Paper and Pamphlets

Although suffragists were fascinated by the buttons, ribbons, china, postcards, sheet music, and other memorabilia that the movement produced, they still relied primarily on printed matter such as pamphlets, broadsides, posters, and booklets to broadcast their messages.  People who are interested in suffrage artifacts should consider collecting both areas of memorabilia, 3-D material as well as paper, for one informs the other.  Buttons, ribbons, and postcards give us an excellent feel for how the suffragists themselves regarded the movement, what designs and what colors fascinated them.  Pamphlet material, in addition to providing historical and ideological information in its own right, sets the context for other types of memorabilia.  It gives us insight into the rallies for which buttons and ribbons were produced, it sets forth the arguments for suffrage that memorabilia buttressed, and it provides valuable information as to when an item was produced, how much it cost, and how widely it was distributed. The items pictured below are but a random sampling of the types of material that are available.

Woman’s Declaration of Rights   At the huge 4th of July Celebration at Independence Hall in Philadelphia to commemorate the 100th year of American Independence, the organizing committee of the Centennial festivities did not schedule a single woman speaker.  When the National Woman Suffrage Association asked General Hawley, chair of the Centennial Commission, for permission to distribute their Declaration of Rights for Women, they were refused on the grounds that it would cause too much attention.  They also requested a large number of admission tickets to the event, which was also refused, although Hawley ultimately did agree to give the Association five tickets.  On the day of the celebration, Susan B. Anthony marched up to the platform and gave the startled chair, Senator Thomas Ferry of Michigan, a copy of the Declaration.  Expecting to be arrested, Anthony and her entourage marched out of the Hall, passing out hundreds of additional copies to the audience.  Once outside, Anthony saw a crowd, and, while one of her delegation held an umbrella over her head, she read the Declaration, passing out additional copies once she was done. The Declaration dealt with such issues as taxation without representation for women, the right to be tried by one’s peers, the right for women’s self-government, lack of equal codes for men and women.

Organizational Invitation for the American Woman Suffrage Association    In 1869, there was a fracture in the American Equal Rights Association, caused in part by the 15th Amendment.  Some suffragists supported the “Negro Franchise” even though it did not also include votes for women, fearing that by pushing the latter issue, the former would also go down to defeat.  Two new organizations were formed in that year, the American Woman Association led by Lucy Stone, whose members were dedicated to achieving the ballot through a national amendment, and the more militant National Woman Suffrage Associated, headed by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, which sought a broader range of rights for women and which believed in a state-by-state approach to attain ballot rights.  It was not until 1890 that the two groups merged to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association.  The item pictured here is an invitation sent out to supporters of suffrage to attend an organizing Convention to establish the AWSA.  On the back is a pencilled note from Julia Ward Howe, who was one of the leading founders of the Association, to a Mr. Weiss asking that he pay attention to the suggestions outlined in the flier.

George Francis Train   was an eccentric businessman who was in large part responsible for establishing the Union Pacific Railroad and the Credit Mobilier, which was later rocked by scandal. In 1872, he defended Victoria Woodhull on a charge of obscenity for printing news of the affair between the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher and the wife of his friend, Theodore Tilton, and he was jailed for his efforts.  A supporter of woman suffrage, he was the chief financial backer in January of 1868 for the paper The Revolution, which was headed up by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.  When he was imprisoned in England for supporting the Irish rebels, his financial contributions to the paper began to diminish, stopping altogether in May of 1869, and it began to fall into debt, ceasing publication in 1872.  Train’s quixotic personality is said to have come to the attention of Jules Verne, who may have drawn on him to create his own character, Phileas Fogg of Around the World in 80 Days.  Train ran for President in 1872 as an independent candidate, supporting, among other issues, woman suffrage.  The campaign letter sheet, shown here above, lists suffrage as part of his platform, perhaps the first such published support from any male candidate running for President. Pictured here also are a small campaign card with an attached photo (an unusually earlier example of this type of presidential item), a “ticket” to attend one of his many rallies, with his platform on the back, including a statement about suffrage, and a satirical trade card.







Belva Lockwood Lecture Promotion    This piece of promotional literature for Belva Lockwood not only advertises the lectures that she is prepared to give, but also is a notice for her appearance at the Normal School in Kutztown, Pennsylvania on September 25, 1891 speaking on “Social and Political Life in Washington.”  The rear of the piece includes a series of endorsements, all dealing with her prowess as a public speaker. Other topics that she was prepared to lecture about include “Is Marriage a Failure?,” “Women in the Professions,” and “”The Tendency of Parties and of Governments.”  It is interesting that while Lockwood gained national attention as the candidate for President of the Equal Rights Party in both 1884 and 1888, no mention is made of her political background.  What is emphasized instead is her legal background and her service as a delegate to the International Peace Congress that was held in 1890.


History of Woman Suffrage Broadside   The History of Woman Suffrage was conceived of by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in 1876, when they realized that many member of the original suffrage movement were advancing in age and that it was necessary to preserve a record of the activities of the movement for future generations.  Originally conceived as a smaller project, it eventually expanded into six volumes, published between 1881 and 1922, and a total of over 8,000 pages.  The early volumes chronicled the history of the movement, the historical causes of the condition of women, including the role of religion, and reminiscences of important suffrage leaders.  The later volumes dealt with both the activities of the national organization as well as a state-by-state record of suffrage news. The last two volumes were edited by Ida Husted Harper after Anthony’s death in 1906 and were published in 1922. The item on the left is an announcement that Volume I is ready for sale and seeks agents for its distribution. Its price of $5.00 for the standard edition was high for the period, which perhaps accounts for the fact that most surviving copies volumes today are library copies.

Proceedings of the Woman’s Rights Conventions of 1848   The original proceedings of the first Woman’s Rights Convention were published after the Seneca Falls gathering in a document that is extremely rare today. The proceedings included a list of the attendees both men and women who signed the declaration of sentiments that was adopted unanimously at the Convention. Reprints were later made, this one from 1870 incorporating the proceedings from a similar convention in Rochester, also held in 1848, along with a transcript of the address that Elizabeth Cady Stanton gave at both conventions. The back page of the pamphlet contains an ad for bound volumes of the first five volumes of Anthony and Stanton’s paper, The Revolution, at $10 for the set,  Each volume contained a 6 months run of the paper.

Susan B. Anthony Trial Proceedings      In November of 1872, Susan B. Anthony, accompanied by 14 other women, cast a ballot in her home city of Rochester, New York.  She was arrested on November 28, along with the other women and the voting inspectors who had registered them. All were released on payment of $500 bail, which Anthony refused to pay, so her attorney paid for her. When Anthony was finally brought to trial, the  judge, Ward Hunt, read a statement declaring her guilty and directed the jury to return a verdict of guilty without hearing any testimony. Hunt fined Anthony, but she refused to pay.  He also refused to enforce his own punishment, making it impossible for her to bring her case to the Supreme Court.  Anthony later had 3,000 copies of the trial transcript shown to the left bound up and distributed at large, primarily to libraries.

Early Poem on Woman’s Rights   It was not long after the 1848 Woman’s Rights Convention to place at Seneca Falls that anti-suffrage sheet music, cartoons, and broadsides appeared.  This 7 page response to suffrage entitled “A Poem on Woman’s Rights” was written by Alvin Bennett and published in Homer, New York in 1855. Its dedication is “To all those who advocate the theory of woman’s equality with the man, in matters pertaining to governance.” The poem, attempting to eulogize women, argues that women should enjoy their rights, but that the natural rights of women are distinguished from those of men, and do not enter the sphere of politics. It goes on to cite the Bible and God’s plan in its criticism of any attempt by those who seek to change what the poet considers to be the ordained gendered structure of society.

Woman’s Rights Almanac   This Woman’s Rights Almanac for 1858 contained “facts, statistics, arguments, records of progress, and proofs of the need of it.” It was published anonymously in Worcester, Massachusetts, although Lucy Stone and the Reverend Thomas Wentworth Higginson may have been involved in its production.  The almanac contained date on women in the workforce and the status of suffrage laws in 1857.  There are no other known woman’s rights almanacs, although the genre of the household almanac itself was quite popular throughout the remainder of the century and into the next. For activists, suffrage calendars with supportive quotations for every day of the year eventually came forth to fill the void after this 1858 effort.

Biography of Victoria Woodhull   This small size biography of Victoria Woodhull, candidate for President in 1872, was written by Theodore Tilton at Woodhull’s urging to defend her at her mother’s accusations of “scandalous acts” in a recent court action.  Because it mentions Woodhull’s candidacy and because it also outlines her stances on various political issues such as the gold standard and the “free love” doctrine, it technically also serves as a campaign biography.  Much of the material for this piece was supplied by Woodhull’s then husband, Colonel Blood.  In its attempt to whitewash the career of Woodhull, this pamphlet became a subject of extreme controversy. Both Lucretia Mott and Julia Ward Howe, for example, were outraged by its “absurdities” and saw it as an unethical attempt to defend the morally indefensible.

National Convention Programs   One of the more interesting suffrage publications are National Convention Programs, which can provide a wealth of information not readily found elsewhere.  The program to the far left, for example, is from the National Woman Suffrage Association’s Convention in 1887, three years before the group joined with its counterpart, the American Woman Suffrage Association.  Susan B. Anthony gave the opening address as well as one other along with concluding remarks.  Isabella Beecher Hooker, sister to Harriet Beecher Stowe and founder of the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association, spoke on “The Constitutional Rights of Women in the United States.” Also having roles in the Convention were May Wright Sewall, the Rev. Olympia Brown, and Clara B. Colby. The 1917 Convention was held in Washington, D.C. at the Polis Theatre. Anna Howard Shaw was the Honorary President (Carrie Chapman Catt was the President).  This later program is far more detailed than its 4-page predecessor.  It contains a lengthy list of Council members, special announcements, lists of committee chairs, where one could go to get delegate’s supplies (presumably badges and other credentials), along with a lengthy and detailed convention program.  This particular example contains the owner’s hand-written notes.  Several  programs, unlike this particular example, come with the latest suffrage Cinderella stamp affixed to the cover.

Women’s Political Union of New Jersey Campaign Year Book   Even though the WPUNJ was the smaller of the two major New Jersey suffrage groups, it was the most prolific in terms of the production of memorabilia, both paper and 3-D.  The cover image of this year book portrays an allegorical image of Justice that is found also on the Union’s stationery, blotters, and Cinderella stamps.  Consisting of 44 pages, it contains a wealth of information about the group, including its history, a poem about the symbolism of the colors of purple, green, and white, a listing of its branches, including addresses and names of officers, a discussion of a forthcoming suffrage parade, an explanation of its official colors, some of its activities during the year, and a discussion of militant methods, as well as a list of contributors.

CWSA Connecticut Pageant and Parade Program for 1914   This program put out by the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association for the Pageant and Parade that were held in Hartford on May 2, 1914 is one of the most comprehensive suffrage programs ever published, its content going far beyond a description of the events of the day.  It contains voluminous portraits and information about the various heads of the different parade groups, an essay on the financial costs of war and how the money could be put to better use, a list of all of the members of the Connecticut Men’s League for Women Suffrage, a discussion and map of the present status of suffrage in the United States, and portraits of the major officers of the CWSA.  The President of the Association was Mrs. Thomas Hepburn, mother of the actress, and the first photo in the program shown above, that of her with her three children, may be the earliest published image of Katharine Hepburn, the actress, who was but 7 at the time.

Emmeline Pankhurst Program   Emmeline Pankhurst, the founder of the militant Women’s Social and Political Union in England made several trips to the United States, where she participated in lecture tours.  All reports indicate that she was generally enthusiastically received, and did not at all give off the aura of a violent militant that many had come to expect.  The pamphlet pictured here is a verbatim report of a speech delivered on November 13,1913 at Parson’s Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut.  The event was sponsored by the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association, who had adopted the official colors of the WSPU, purple, green, and white. While undoubtedly much of Pankhurst’s presentation was part of a stump speech, there are enough specific references to the condition of women in Connecticut to add a layer of originality here. There are, then, probably thoughts of Mrs. Pankhurst that are not found in any source outside this pamphlet.

Banner-Suffrage Program Parade   The program to the left is from the “Banner-Parade for Woman Suffrage” that was held in New York City on Saturday, October 23rd, 1915, just prior to the State referendum on the franchise that went down to defeat.  According to newspaper reports, approximately 20,000 participants marched up Fifth Avenue that day in support of the cause.  The parade was led off by the band of the “National Woman’s Suffrage Association,” led by Carrie Chapman Catt.  Other bands and suffrage groups participating include the “Greater New York Woman’s Suffrage Party,” “The Business Men’s League,” and the “Scandinavia Suffrage Committee.” Harriot Stanton Blatch’s Women’s Political Union was to form separately at East Houston Street and join up later with the other marchers at Twenty-second Street.  What was interesting about this program is that from the cover it is obvious that it was published by Blatch’s WPU, as it shows a photograph of two of the prominent members of her group wearing sashes.  Catt and Blatch were not the best of friends, differing over strategy among other things. Catt tried to minimize WPU participation in this parade, not wishing for her group to be identified with the WPU at all, hence the “two parades.”  This program gives the erroneous impression that the parade was a joint venture, not one in which WPU participation was restricted.

Women’s Oversea Hospitals Report    The Women’s Oversea Hospitals was part of an effort by the National American Woman Suffrage Association to aid in the War cause.  At their Annual Convention in December of 1917, the delegates agreed to take part in an effort to raise $125,000 to support a hospital in France for one year.  The first group of women surgeons and physicians left for France on February 17th of the next year to establish a hospital for refugees in a devastated area. Several other groups of women were later established at different bases, including the Women’s Apparel Association. Suffragists from other countries, including Scotland and Canada.  Although the American women often received a cordial welcome from the soldiers that they wanted to help, US Army regulations at the time debarred women surgeons, whatever their skills, and they refused to women nurses both authority over enlisted men and permission to act as their helpers.  The French accepted all-women units, not because they were any less sexist, but because their need for surgeons was greater.  This report is one of the most complete discussions of the WOH ever published.

Mother Goose as a Suffragette    Suffragist activists, often imaged as dedicated, austere, and humorless, could be quite playful at times, especially when they satirized their opposition.  This 35-page booklet, published by the Woman Suffrage Party of New York with the assistance of The Brooklyn Eagle in 1912, is an example.  It takes traditional “Mother Goose Rhymes” and gives them a suffrage twist, such as “Jack and Jill/ Have Equal will/ And equal strength and mind./  But when it comes to Equal Rights/ Poor Jill trails far behind.”  Each poem is illustrated, including one in which Theodore Roosevelt, dressed in his Rough Rider uniform and walking his tiny pet moose on a leash, is seen convincing an “old woman” to go to the ballot booth.  It’s unclear as to whether or not this booklet was ever intended for children or whether it simply was a method of providing interesting political commentary to a national issue.

Pamphlet and Memorabilia Price List   Many of the larger suffrage organizations and a few of the smaller ones maintained stores that sold suffrage related materials, including pamphlets, broadsides, buttons, and sashes.  These stores could be free standing, albeit sometimes temporary in conjunction with an event, or they could be incorporated as part of headquarters.  Several, such as the National American Woman Suffrage Association, issued catalogs, which priced items both for the individual suffragist and in bulk quantities for other activist groups.  The catalog to the left was probably issued in 1915 as a supplement to a larger catalog that also appeared in that year. It advertised a variety of pamphlets, “cabinet size booklets,” flyers, ushers’ sashes, stationary, votes for women glove purses, postcards, buttons, flags, pins, and Christmas cards. The standard “Votes for Women” pin sold for a penny each and 75 cents for 100.  The Michigan Equal Suffrage Association also printed its own full-scale catalog.  Other groups, such as the Women’s Political Union of New Jersey, incorporated their sales offerings within other literature that they published.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton Speech    Although Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were iconic leaders of the American suffrage movement and spoke extensively throughout the country, very few of their actual speeches were printed up.  In fact, one biographer asserts that no complete text of any Anthony address was ever published, although this is not entirely true.  This is why this pamphlet, which contains the address of Stanton on behalf of universal suffrage particularly significant.  It was printed in 1867 on behalf of the American Equal Rights Association before it was to split two years later into the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association, In it, Stanton urges that delegates to the upcoming Constitutional Convention in New York be selected without regard to gender as to better represent the wishes of all people, not just men.

The Trial of the Suffragette Leaders   The Woman’s Press was set up by Frederick Pethick Lawrence in England as the publishing arm of the Women’s Social and Political Union, although the Press never did any actual printing itself.  This pamphlet is one of its products, and it deals with the trial of Emmeline Pankhurst, her daughter, Christabel, and “General” Flora Drummond, all of the WSPU, in 1908 as part of an organized protest to “Rush the House of Commons” on October 12.  The original warrant related to a handbill that the three were associated with that called “upon and [incited] the public to do a certain wrongful and illegal act.”  The pamphlet, in addition to providing background to the arrest, included a transcript of the trial itself. The rear of the pamphlet contained a list of items for sale including both pamphlets and other literature as well as badges, scarves, ribbons, and postcards.

Menu for Released Prisoners of November 1911   Among collectors of ephemera, early menus have always been an appreciated item.  The one pictured to the left has especial significance for the suffrage historian.  It is from a welcome dinner given at the Connaught Rooms in Kingsway for released prisoners from the Deputation of November 1911. While Mrs. Pethick Lawrence of the WSPU led the usual deputation from the Caxton Hall to Parliament Square, other women, armed with stones and hammers supplied to them at the WSPU shop, went singly to smash windows at Government offices and businesses.  Ultimately, 220 women and 3 men were arrested for their acts of violence. Twenty women who had caused more than 5 pounds worth of damage were given prison sentences that exceeded 2 months.  This dinner was given in commemoration of their actions.  Most of the 20, including Olive Wharry, Grace Stuart, Mrs. Francis Rowe, Vera Wentworth, Ethel Slade, and Margaret Wallis were able to attend. Emmeline Pankhurst declared that “the argument of the broken pane of glass is the most valuable argument in modern politics.” However, the act of window breaking did cause many women to abandon the WSPU.

If any of you have additional contributions for this page, I would be happy to publish them. Please contact me by clicking on the following email form: Ken FloreyMy forthcoming book, Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia: An Illustrated Historical Study, which will be published by McFarland Press in 2013, will not have a section on paper and pamphlets per se, although it will discuss such areas as art posters, poster stamps, postcards, and sheet music.


10 thoughts on “Paper and Pamphlets

  1. I have 3 original US “Votes for women” handbills. They measure approx 8″ x 10″ and have been framed together for several years. (They belonged to my mother).

    Would you be able to give me an estimate of their value – both alone and as a group? I would very much appreciate it as it would help us to settle the estate. (I haven’t been successful finding this information online.)

    Thank you.

    • It is difficult to set a value on your specific handbills without knowing a little more about them. In general, however, handbills are not worth very much, perhaps about 20-30 dollars each. And they are not easy to sell even at this level. The problem is that there are hundred of varieties available, and some varieties were issued in quantities of 100,000 or more. Most contain essentially the same arguments, so there is nothing distinctive about them. You indicate that these are framed. Are they glued down in any way? If so, that fact would lower their value considerably. Occasionally a handbill might be controversial or might advertise a suffrage meeting. In that case, it could be worth a little more. At any rate, if you are settling an estate, the handbills that you have probably should not be a significant determining factor. U.S. andbills are probably the most inexpensive of all suffrage memorabilia.

  2. Hi
    I have a The Suffragette newspaper Friday 13th June 1913 in mint condition
    Please can you tell me its approximate value and where I might be able to sell it
    Kind Regards

    • Jackie
      We have already discussed this privately, but I wanted to give everyone a heads up. The issue you describe contains a front page story on the death of Emily Wilding Davison, who was killed by the King’s horse at Derby day. It was reprinted from a copy in the British Museum that has been widely circulated. Most copies in existence today are the reproduction, which yours is.

  3. As I have seen others post above, I’m doing the same. I have a, “Do You Know?” pamphlet by Carrie Chapman Catt. It has been in a drawer for years and I’d love to find someone who would enjoy it. Any ideas how much the value would be? Or where I would begin to figure this out?

    • I generally try to avoid giving values to objects on this site, but your question does involve a generic aspect that might be helpful to explore. Suffrage pamphlets are relatively common and, for the most part, have a value of $25-35, although some, depending on content and rarity, can go higher. If there is nothing particularly unusual about your pamphlet, and it sounds from your description that there isn’t, I would place it in that range. If you are seeking to sell it, perhaps eBay would be a good source. Sometimes Antiquarian Book and Manuscript dealers do charge much higher prices for material of this sort, but most are unwilling to pay much to acquire such pieces.

  4. Hello,
    I’m trying to view a copy of an 1887 broadside: To The Women of New Jersey, with no luck at all. Do you know where I can do so?

    • I am sorry, but I do not have a broadside from New Jersey that is this early, and I don’t know who might. I assume that you have checked with the State Library, the State Historical Society and local historical societies. I do hope that the proposed Women’s Museum in Washington gets off the ground. There is great need for a building to archive such material.

  5. I’m writing a musical play about the British Suffragettes. I need a pamhlet and its contents to copy for the stage. This pamphlet should be dated around 1911-12. If you can email me the pamphlet, I will include your name in the program and credits for the play. I intend to enter it in competitions for musicals.
    Thank you,
    Ruth Wire 541-482-7742

    • I wish you the best of luck with your venture. I do have some English pamphlets, but I think your best bet would be to contact Elizabeth Crawford, who deals in English suffrage history and let her know specifically what you would like. Her email address is elizabeth.crawford2017@outlook,com

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