Votes for Women a Success!

Votes for Women a Success [:] The Map Proves It[.] New York: National Woman Suffrage Publishing Company, [ca. 1914-15.]
Small broadside, 10 ¼”h x 7 ¼”w at sheet edge. Gently toned, minor chipping at upper left, folded in four at one time.

An unrecorded handbill issued during the nationwide campaign for the 19th Amendment. With a simple-but-effective persuasive map of the status of women’s voting rights across the country, making effective use of color to suggest that states denying women the vote are mired in darkness and ignorance.

By 1900 only four states (beginning with Wyoming in 1869) had granted women the vote, and the suffrage effort was flagging. But a new generation of leaders revitalized the movement, introducing new tactics such as maps showing the progress of suffrage at the state level. The maps were designed to convey the logic, even inevitability, of the extension of suffrage. They were “used in billboards, posters, parade floats, pageants, silent films, window cards, newspaper ads and articles,” and this use of persuasive cartography has been called “the most extensive use of a single iconic map image for persuasive purposes in the United States.” (Mode 1193)

Offered here is a very rare example of the genre, a handbill titled Votes for Women a Success. It features a small outline map of United States, with each state shaded according to the suffrage status granted to its women: generally speaking, full suffrage (white) in the western states; partial suffrage (gray) in the Midwest, New England and pockets of the South and no suffrage (black) elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. This version of the handbill was intended for national consumption and features the exhortation, “Would any of these States have adopted EQUAL SUFFRAGE if it had been a failure just across the Border [i.e., in Canada]?”

Not in OCLC or Persuasive Maps: The PJ Mode Map Collection.