Votes for Women

Advocating for Women

Jeannette Rankin, April 2, 1917/tiles/non-collection/P/PN2015_03_0002a.xml Courtesy of the Montana Historical Society, Helena
This photo shows Jeannette Rankin just before her swearing-in to the 65th Congress. On the morning of April 2, 1917, she addressed a crowd from the balcony of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in Washington, D.C., accompanied by prominent suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt. Once she took her seat in the House, Rankin’s work for women’s suffrage continued in earnest, most notably her push to establish the House Committee on Woman Suffrage.

Jeannette Rankin, Visitor’s Gallery Pass, June 6, 1917/tiles/non-collection/2/2006_184_000.xml Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
In June of 1917, Jeannette Rankin issued this gallery pass to fellow suffragist Alice White on the day of a possible vote on a suffrage amendment. The vote did not materialize, but the continued delays in addressing the issue strengthened the argument for the formation of the House Committee on Woman Suffrage.

Approval for the formation of the committee passed on September 24, 1917—by a large margin—and Jeannette Rankin became the minority’s Ranking Member. The panel's first hearing took place on January 3, 1918, to discuss the introduction of a federal amendment giving women the right to vote, with phrasing supported by NAWSA: “The rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged. . .on account of sex.” On January 10, a resolution calling for the submission of a suffrage amendment to the states for ratification was introduced, and Rankin opened the debate. Recalling President Wilson’s speech to marshal support for military action in World War I, Rankin set forth the challenge, “How shall we explain to them the meaning of democracy if the same Congress that voted to make the world safe for democracy refuses to give this small measure of democracy to the women of our country?”

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