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Card Advertising a Lila Meade Valentine Suffrage Lecture, 1914


Richmond native Lila Meade Valentine was born in 1865 and devoted much of her life to advocating education and health-care reform and woman suffrage. In 1909, Valentine cofounded the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia (ESL) and was elected the organization's first president. Shortly after its founding, the ESL joined forces with the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), which succeeded two suffrage groups that had been formed late in the nineteenth century, the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association. The NAWSA was the most mainstream and nationally prominent prosuffrage group. In an effort to educate Virginia's citizens and legislators about woman suffrage, ESL members went door-to-door passing out leaflets and giving speeches on the subject. Common techniques used to attract women to their cause included giving speeches across the state, often from decorated automobiles, renting booths at fairs, and distributing “Votes for Women” buttons. By 1919, the league had attracted 30,000 members.

In spite of the ESL's tireless efforts, the Virginia General Assembly failed to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment, which in 1920 granted all women in the United States, including women in Virginia the right to vote. It was not until 1952 that the Virginia General Assembly officially adopted the amendment. After the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified and women gained the franchise, the league was reorganized as the League of Women Voters of Virginia.

Citation: Card Advertising a Lila Meade Valentine Suffrage Lecture in Norfolk, April 24, 1914.Equal Suffrage League of Virginia. Records, 1909–1935. Accession 22002, Organization Records, Library of Virginia


Social Studies: VS.1, VS.9, VUS.1, VUS.8
Art: 4.1, 5.1
English: 4.7, 5.7

Suggested Questions

Artistic Expression: Design a more graphic-based card for this event that you feel would be more likely to encourage participation. Be sure to use era-appropriate words and symbolism.

In Their Shoes: Research the ESL and write a letter as if you were a member encouraging one of your friends to join.

Analyze: Though we know her and she was usually referred to as Lila Meade Valentine, the card advertising her suffrage speech bills her as Mrs. B.B. Valentine. Why do you think, considering the times, that in this instance Valentine was referred to by her married name? What might that have signaled to the public?


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