Timeline of the Woman Suffrage Campaign in Virginia

Virginia women first organized associations to fight for their voting rights in the years after the Civil War, but they were short-lived. The women who founded the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia in 1909 and the Virginia branch of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage in 1915 were more successful and achieved the right to vote in 1920 with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Follow our timeline to learn more about the campaign for woman suffrage in Virginia.


We’ve been blogging about the fight for woman suffrage at The UncommonWealth: Voices from the Library of Virginia. Check out our ongoing posts below.


a card inviting people to come hear two speeches by Equal Suffrage League president Lila Meade Valentine
A card advertising speeches by Equal Suffrage League president Lila Meade Valentine. Equal Suffrage League of Virginia Records, Library of Virginia.

The Equal Suffrage League of Virginia was founded in 1909 to “secure the suffrage for women on equal terms with men.” Read about the League’s work HERE.


African American women weren’t welcomed by suffrage organizations in Virginia, but they still advocated for voting rights. Read more about their experiences HERE.

Faculty at Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute in Ettrick took a photograph to document their voter registration. Courtesy of Virginia State University.

clipping from the Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia opposing the proposed 19th Amendment
In September 1919, the Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution against the 19th Amendment. Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, 1919 special session.

Virginia politicians did not approve of a suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which they feared would allow federal interference in the state’s elections. Read about the resolution they passed in 1919 against the proposed amendment HERE.


Virginia’s General Assembly voted against ratifying the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. Read why HERE.

newspaper clipping regarding the Virginia House of Delegates' vote against the nineteenth amendment
Virginia’s House of Delegates votes against the 19th Amendment, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Feb. 13, 1920

newspaper clipping regarding Virginia General Assembly approval of the Machinery Bill so women could register to vote
Virginia’s General Assembly approves the Machinery Bill so women can register to vote, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Mar. 13, 1920.

Virginia suffragists achieved a victory when the General Assembly approved a bill that allowed them to register to vote even if the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified after the registration deadline had passed in Virginia. Read about their success HERE.


The Library of Virginia holds records of the Equal Suffrage League. Learn more about the records and how to transcribe documents to make them keyword searchable HERE.

Equal Suffrage League of Virginia letterhead
Equal Suffrage League letterhead. Equal Suffrage League of Virginia Records, Library of Virginia.


front page of the third issue of the Virginia Suffrage News
Virginia Suffrage News was a short-lived publication of the Equal Suffrage League. Equal Suffrage League of Virginia Records, Library of Virginia.

The Equal Suffrage League of Virginia briefly published its own monthly newspaper. Read all about the Virginia Suffrage News HERE.