The map above shows the state of Women’s Suffrage in North America just 100 years ago. Amazingly, the majority of women in the United States still did not have the right to vote.
By mid-1917, the majority of Canadian provinces offered full suffrage to women, with the exceptions being Quebec and the Atlantic provinces (note Newfoundland would not join Canada until 1949).
However, in the United States the only states offering women the full right to vote were out West. Eastern, Southern, and Mid-Western states did not for the most part.
In 1917, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Ohio did offer Presidential suffrage, meaning women could vote for the President, but were restricted from voting in other elections (e.g. House of Representatives, Senate, State elections and/or municipal ones).
Arkansas on the other hand, allowed women to vote in primary, but not general elections.
The full title of the map is ‘Votes for Women a Success: North America Proves It‘. and was published by the National Woman Suffrage Publishing Co. in August 1917.
The message below the map reads: “The Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba extended full suffrage to their women in 1916. Ontario gave them full suffrage in March, 1917.”
Then the final message, which as a Canadian, made me laugh: “How Long Will the Republic of the United States lag behind the Monarchy of Canada?”
While many US States would grant women the right to vote in the years following the publication of this map (see 1919 Women’s Suffrage Victory Map), full women’s suffrage would not be realised in the United States until 1920 with the ratification of The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
It states that: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
Despite its passage, women of color, including Blacks and Native Americans, still faced defacto voting rights restrictions well into the 1960s in many states. It should also be noted that the voting age at the time was restricted to those 21 and over and not 18 and over like today.
At the Federal (national) level, Canada granted limited female franchise in 1917, followed by full women’s suffrage (for most women) in 1918. However, at the provincial level, Quebec was the last holdout, only granting women the right to vote in provincial elections in 1940!
And similar to the United States, women’s suffrage had some caveats in Canada too. Asian women (and men) could not vote in Canadian elections until after WW2. Indigenous women (and men) living on reserves could not vote in elections until 1960. But, Blacks women (and men) did not have any formal exclusion from voting in Federal elections after 1918, although they may still have faced informal ones.
And if you’re curious about Mexico, it only offered women the vote in 1947 and only at the municipal level. It did not offer full female suffrage until 1953.
To learn more about women’s suffrage in the United States and Canada have a look at the following books:
- Votes for Women: The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited
- Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment (Turning Points in History)
- Century of Struggle: The Woman’s Rights Movement in the United States
- Sisters: The Lives of America’s Suffragists
- The Woman Suffrage Movement in Canada: Second Edition
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David Cooke says
The women of Washington Territory were granted suffrage in the 1880s. They promptly enacted alcohol prohibition. The error was corrected (temporarily) when Washington reached statehood, in 1889.