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Woman's Rights in Virginia, 1909-1920

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Author: Erickson, Alice Matthews, 1935-
Advisor: Sherman, Richard B.
Issued Date: 1975
Subjects: Women's rights--Virginia
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/18822
Description: The idea for this study originated with the question, what was the woman's rights movement like in Virginia? The results of the subsequent investigation are embodied in this paper which delineates the extent to which Virginia women participated in the woman movement, explores the "woman on a pedestal" attitude as it affected the suffrage cause in the Commonwealth, and examines the reasons behind the rejection of the Nineteenth Amendment by the Virginia General Assembly. The investigation was limited to the years between 1909 and 1920 for several reasons. The first effective suffrage organization in the state was formed in 1909 and enlisted thousands of Virginia women in the campaign for woman suffrage and related reforms. In the years following 1909 woman suffrage became a major issue in the nation and in Virginia. This study concludes with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment and the winning of suffrage in 1920 because it represented the end of an era. Suffrage was the rallying cry and this point had been won. The effects and results of enfranchisement are properly the object of a new investigation. Virginia women did depart from tradition when they entered the political arena. They were led by Lila Meade Valentine of Richmond, and were white, middle class women who believed in the gentility which was their heritage and who conducted themselves accordingly. Opposition did come from those who considered that "a woman's place is in the home," but the real difficulty in the legislature came from the prospect of enfranchising Negro women and from the desire on the part of the Democratic party leadership to retain a small, controlled electorate. The General Assembly of Virginia rejected the Nineteenth Amendment, but with the national ratification Virginia women were given equal suffrage. They had both won and lost.
Degree: Masters of Arts in History


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