Women organize for the vote in 1913

Even though the argument of women’s apathy at the polling place was false, organizers felt it best to form local groups to get the word out.

JSSP Keith Norman Column Sig
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Some women in Jamestown organized for the battle for access to the ballot box in October 1913.

The meeting was held at the Glaspell residence in Jamestown with 24 ladies in attendance.

Aiding the group was Dr. Mary McCoy of Duluth, Minnesota, who had helped organize the Duluth and Minnesota suffrage groups.

“She gave an interesting talk upon the subject of equal suffrage,” wrote The Jamestown Alert in its Oct. 2, 1913, edition. “… called attention to many new developments that indicate the strengthening of the movement throughout the country.”

Women's lack of interest in voting was often quoted as a reason not to allow women access to the ballot box back in those days.


The group gathered in Jamestown heard statistics that women had a higher percentage of voter turnout than men in states like California and Illinois, which had granted women limited suffrage.

Even though the argument of women’s apathy at the polling place was false, organizers felt it best to form local groups to get the word out.

“The need of women organizing clubs and indicating by their efforts that they desire the ballot was apparent,” wrote the Alert.

North Dakota women had limited suffrage allowing them to vote on school issues since the state constitution was passed in 1889.

In 1912 — for the first time — a major American political party supported women’s suffrage when Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Party, better known as the Bull Moose Party, added the woman’s right to vote as a plank in its platform.

In 1913, women held their biggest protest parade in a procession down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

The Jamestown Suffrage Club likely supported those efforts until the final passage of women’s right to vote with the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920.

In the 1920 presidential election, 38% of eligible women voted compared to 68% of men. The vote of women was still considered a factor in the election of President Warren Harding.


Author Keith Norman can be reached at

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