Education from LVA

In Most Humble Manner: Women and Politics before 1920

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  • Virginia (Colony), Colonial Papers, Petition, 6 April 1691, Folder 8, No. 17, Record Group 1, Accession 36138, State Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Ruth Fulcher Petition, 1691
  • Petition from “females of the County of Augusta” to the General Assembly. N.d., presented 19 January 1832. Manuscript. RG 78, Virginia General Assembly, Legislative Petitions, Augusta County, State Government Records Collection. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Petition from the women of Augusta
  • A Group of Philadelphia Abolitionists with Lucretia Mott. Philadelphia: F. Gutekunst. Offset lithograph. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., LOC
    Philadelphia Abolitionists with Lucretia Mott
  • The Negro Woman's Appeal
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin. Half-title page. Harriet Beecher Stowe. Boston: John P. Jewett & Company, 1853. Susan B. Anthony Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress, Washington D.C., LOC
    Susan B. Anthony's Uncle Tom's Cabin
  • “Make the slave's case our own.” [ca. 1859]. Susan B. Anthony Papers. Manuscript Division. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., LVA
    Make the Slave's Case Our Own
  • “Woman's holy war. Grand charge on the enemy's works.” Lithograph. New York: Currier and Ives, ca. 1874. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., LOC
    Woman's Holy War
  • Broadside 1900 .A7 BOX. Special Collections. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Appeal of the Women of Staunton
  • Map of Virginia—
    Virginia—“Wet” and “Dry
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In Most Humble Manner:
Women and Politics before 1920

Virginia women were involved in many aspects of public life long before gaining the right to vote in 1920. Women were influential leaders and diplomats in the Powhatan chiefdom. Their voices were heard even without the franchise. In the seventeenth century Lady Frances Berkeley made Green Spring the headquarters for burgesses and councillors who opposed the Crown's policies, and in the eighteenth century Hannah Lee Corbin boldly proposed that women who paid taxes should be allowed to vote.

Women were energetic volunteers and able fund-raisers, sewing clothes for the needy, raising money for orphanages, and supporting female missionaries. They petitioned the General Assembly seeking legislative action, financial aid, and divorce. As early as the 1840 presidential election, they were active in political campaigns and participated in debates on the most important issues of the day—among them slavery, temperance, and education. They penned letters to the governor requesting pardons, appointments to office, and assistance.

It is no coincidence that after women won the vote in 1920, city, county, and state governments in Virginia created or expanded social service agencies, developed public health departments, enlarged educational opportunities, and began to break down the class and racial lines that had divided Virginians.

People Featured in This Unit:

  • Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906)
  • Sojourner Truth (1797–1883)
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902)
  • Lucretia Mott (1793–1880)
  • Anna Whitehead Bodeker (1827–1904)
  • Lila Meade Valentine (1865–1921)
  • Pauline Adams (1874–1957)
  • Elizabeth Bermingham Lacy (1945–)
  • Mary Sue Terry (1947–  )
  • Mary Church Terrell (1863–1954)
  • Maggie Lena Walker (1864–1934)