Organization: Women and Social Movements in the United States
Editors: Thomas L. Dublin & Kathryn Kish Sklar
Submitted by Lisa Hendrickson
In 2015, historians Thomas L. Dublin & Kathryn Kish Sklar began the huge project of creating an online database chronicling women across the country who participated in the Woman Suffrage Movement primarily concentrating on the period 1890-1920. Their aim was to create an in depth and inclusive collection of biographies of women suffrage activists including white and black suffragists, as well as mainstream and militant suffragists.
How was it possible to create this monumental project with limited staff and budget? Thomas Dublin decided that crowd sourcing the information was the way to go. Initially, he created the lists of suffragists by state to be included in the project by culling through state reports published in The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922). Next, volunteers including faculty, students, and history buffs were recruited to research and write the biographical sketches. Additional volunteers signed on to serve as state coordinators, who edited and managed the biography submissions for their state’s list, then sending the completed biographies to Thomas Dublin. Since the project began in 2015, the team has already received 1700 completed profiles from 48 states and the District of Columbia.
Currently the list for New Jersey includes the names of 140 active suffragists. Some of the prominent names on the New Jersey list include Mina Van Winkle a leading suffrage activist, Reverend Florence Randolph an African American minister, Esther Odgen a suffrage publisher, and Melinda Scott a militant activist. Alice Paul, one of the most prominent and militant supporters of the suffrage movement in the United States was born and raised in Mount Laurel, NJ. Her birthplace, Paulsdale, is a National Historic landmark and serves as a center of learning on the women’s movement then and now. New Jersey was a very active state in the suffrage movement. Large groups of suffrage supporters were very active in Plainfield, Patterson, Newark, Hoboken, Jersey City, Vineland, and Camden. They organized fund raisers, held marches, gave speeches, and protested publicly–working for years on the passage of the 19th Amendment granting universal suffrage for women. These groups partnered with several larger, well established groups from New York to organize local New Jersey branches of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the Equal Suffrage League, and the Women’s Political Union.
The database will initially launch in February or March of 2019 and will be freely accessible by the public. The goal is to have the 3000+ biographies live by September 2020 to celebrate the woman suffrage centennial. The information will be organized into three distinct sections. One section features the biographies of approximately 300 African American suffragists; a second section features the names and stories of approximately 400 militant suffragists; and the last section consists of the names of approximately 2800 mainstream suffrage supporters, organized by state. Each biography is approximately 500 words in length and focuses on the highlights of each woman’s life and her suffrage involvement. Photographs of the women will be attached when available.