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Women's Suffrage Centennial Celebration: Women's Vote in California

Suffragist Oral History Project

Sara Bard Field, Poet and Suffragist (1883-1974)

Articles & More

October 10, 1911: A Suffrage Cliffhanger In California - Ms. Magazine

  • How California became the sixth equal-suffrage state. 

Never A Fight of Woman Against Man: What Textbooks Don't Say about Women's Suffrage - History Teacher

  • The article discusses the history of the women's suffrage movement in the U.S. from the late 1840s through 1920. It includes teachings in American history textbooks, women's opposition to their own suffrage, and the suffrage movement's general perspective on man-woman relationships.

Lifting as We Climb: Black Women's Battle for the Ballot Box - Evette Dionne (Book Review)

  • Learning about the hazy history of the 19th amendment in a women's and gender studies course in grad school.

Women in America: The Other Fifty Percent - Christina Bache Fidan

  • The inclusion and empowerment of women in the political arena is of utmost importance to achieving a government that is truly "by the people, for the people.

HERstory in California

In 1871, Ellen R. Van Valkenburg sued Santa Cruz County Clerk Albert Brown after he refused to include her name in the Great Register of voters. She argued that under the 14th Amendment, "many American women like herself were granted citizenship, and therefore, the rights of citizenship which included voting." California’s District Court ruled against her but she decided to appeal. The following year, the Supreme Court of California supported the lower court, again denying her and other women the right to vote.

Read further about California's struggle for suffrage

In 1911, despite poor results in the San Francisco area, the Equal Suffrage Amendment passed by 3,587 votes thanks to support from rural areas of the state. San Francisco then became the most populous city where women could vote. 

A Brief History of the 1911 Campaign 

California Woman Suffrage 1870 - 1911

A ten-panel exhibition of Women's Suffrage Movement as seen in California. 

"Album of San Francisco" International Museum of Women

 

Women's Journal - Women's Heritage Museum, Palo Alto

Historical Documents

Historical Essay - Mae Silver

Organizers of the 1911 Amendment 8 campaign gathered in San Francisco for a publicity shot.
 

Documents: Women Get the Right to Vote

California Constitutional Convention Working Papers
Petitions for Women’s Suffrage to the California Constitutional Convention (1879)

 

Secretary of State Records: Equality Tea (1910)