A suffragette cartoon

January 10, 2020 • 11:45 am

Well, I’m not sure the cartoon I found is in favor of women voting, but I saw it as part of an exhibit in our Regenstein Library across the street. One good thing about where I work is that the main library is directly across the street, so I can get any book available within about 10 minutes. As lagniappe, the Collections Department often puts up cool displays of rare and archival material. Today, when I went over to get the book Zorba the Greek (I’ll tell you why later), there was a suffragette exhibit of old materials published before women got the vote in the U.S.

Women’s suffrage didn’t in fact become law in this country until 1920,after the states ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. But the movement began well before that—in the mid 1800s.  This cartoon, from a local Chicago paper, appeared 7 years before women got the right to vote. I put it up because the women are being helped in their cause by CATS. I took pictures through the glass with my iPhone.

The source:

The cartoon (note the caption: “college boys” are perceived as anti-suffrage!)

It’s cats, of course, because d*gs don’t care about women’s rights!

20 thoughts on “A suffragette cartoon

  1. Black cats were seen as familiars to witches. I truly don’t think this cartoon was in favor of women getting the vote. Quite the contrary, I think. I could be wrong.

      1. The cartoon is absolutely pro-suffragette.

        The tip-offs are:

        1) The woman are drawn as having normal features (ie. not exaggerated/ugly/frowning).

        2) The crowds is almost all smiling, not indicating disapproval.

        The women are bringing the cats as symbolic reply to the idea of “loose mice on [them]”.
        That is – “Oh, you’re going to send mice at us? We’ve got the response right here, our cats!”

        I think the dog in upper right is just a humor detail about all the cats in the street. It’s way in the back corner so it isn’t a major part of the message.

    1. I took it in a completely different way. I inferred that some “college boys” had threatened to break up a suffragette march by releasing mice to frighten women – as a sort of disparaging remark about the supposed fragility of women – and that the cartoonist is noting that women (even if they WERE afraid of mice) would not be so easily overcome.

  2. … I went over to get the book Zorba the Greek (I’ll tell you why later) …

    Struck by a sudden passion to learn to dance the Sirtaki, boss?

  3. I took my freshman bio requirement in your building or near it. My prof was a slightly cranky old man (not you, another one) 🙂 who casually mentioned one day that his main life’s work was with the smallpox virus.

    On the final exam there was a question about the work of a scientist. I couldn’t remember if it was scientist A or B. I wrote two side by side columns detailing the work of each, and then when I was the last student in the room I wrote a big X across one of the columns.

    I got an A. To this day I still don’t know if I chose correctly or if the grader had pity on me.

  4. Women’s suffrage didn’t in fact become law in this country until 1920,after the states ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

    Was that before or after the Prohibition amendment? After, if I remember my foreign history correctly. Which says something about the priority the topic was given.
    Then again, WW1 gave Britain both it’s “universal” suffrage and pub licensing hours and Daylight Saving Time, so we’re hardly in a position of pride. Contrast, well, about a 20th of this timeline.
    There was a distinct tendency to “going for” suffrage in the aftermaths of the World Wars. From which one can deduce the presence of a minor world war in Saudi Arabia shortly before 2015. Or something equally upheaving.
    (Prohibition was the 18th amendment ; I had to check.)

    1. Prohibition was the eighteenth amendment, ratified on January 16 1919. What most people don’t know is that, at the time the nineteenth amendment was ratified, only seven states denied all forms of the vote to women. A number of states allowed limited suffrage (women could vote in local elections or primaries but not national or general elections) and some twenty states, mostly in the western US, allowed full suffrage.

        1. When the nineteenth amendment was ratified, prohibition had been under ratification for 1 year and 7 months and in effect for seven months (section 1 of the 18th amendment provided for it to go into effect one year after ratification on 16 January 1919, making the first nationwide dry day 17 January 1920).

          The first three states to ratify the 19th amendment did so on 10 June 1919, 145 days after final approval of the 18th. The process was completed on 18 August 1920 and certified and enacted eight days later on the 26th. Unlike the 18th, it went into effect immediately, meaning that all adult women in the US were eligible to vote in the 1920 presidential election in November. So whether or not prohibition was an issue in the debate on womens’ suffrage prior to 1919, by the time the ratification process began it was a moot point.

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