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“An Economical Woman” Issued by The New York
State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, 1909

CONTENT WARNING

Materials in the Library of Virginia’s collections contain historical terms, phrases, and images that are offensive to modern readers. These include demeaning and dehumanizing references to race, ethnicity, and nationality; enslaved or free status; physical and mental ability; and gender and sexual orientation. 

Context

The New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NYSAOWS) was one of the most active anti-suffrage groups in the state of New York. There were several auxiliaries of the group throughout New York. NYSAOWS would receive requests for information, advice or assistance from women in other states, including Virginia. Other anti- suffrage groups around the country would use material published by NYSAOWS to rally women in their states around the ideals of the anti- suffrage movement.

Formed in April 1895, this group consisted of prominent women who fought against and were opposed to the cause of women's suffrage. They gave speeches, handed out materials, distributed pamphlets, and also published a journal. NYSAOWS members believed that women participating in politics would be "disruptive of everything pertaining to home life." They also felt that women's roles as mothers and caregivers meant they did not have to do "further service" as citizens. The members also believed that a majority of people were on their side and all they had to do was advocate for women to “recognize the vital need for a division of the world's work between men and women”. In 1896, NYSAOWS believed that only 10% of women actually wanted the vote. NYSAOWS also used tactics such as associating women's suffrage with "support for socialist causes”. Although not based in Virginia, materials published by this organization was widely circulated throughout the commonwealth. 

Standards

USII.4

Suggested Questions

Preview Activity

Look at It: Look at the title. What does it tell you about the group who wrote the broadside? List three ideas you have about the women who may be the topic(s) of this broadside.

Post Activities

Analyze: Look at the title. What does it tell you about the group who wrote the broadside? Why do you think this title was chosen? How is the title reflected in the arguments expressed in the broadside?

Up for Debate: In small groups, prepare a brief statement in which you take a side and present why your group is in favor of or is opposed to the suffrage movement.

Social Media Spin: Using hashtags and memes, convert the messages of this broadside into short, social media-style messages that may have been used had the technology existed at the time.

Artistic Exploration: Create a placard that an anti-suffragist may have carried, sharing the views from the "Economical Woman."