As the centennial of the ratification of the 19th amendment approaches (2020) more and more students of history are going to want to learn about the women’s suffrage movement in the United States.
“The Beehive,” the blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, reports on the Society’s online collection of documents from the The Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women (1894-1920). Yes, there were organizations opposed to women’s suffrage.
Here is a taste of Nancy Heywood’s post:
The records of this organization are now fully digitized and available on the web, thanks to a grant provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act grant as administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.
All pages of this manuscript collection have been digitized and they are presented as sequences of pages linked to the folders listed on the collection guide. Website users may explore any or all administrative records, committee meeting minutes, typescripts of lectures and reports, and various printed items including by-laws, and printed lists of standing committee members from all over the state.
The records date from 1894 to1920. The Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women was formally founded in 1895, but stemmed from a committee formed in 1882. The Association actively recruited members, opposed legislation that would have granted voting rights to women in Massachusetts, and also held events and lectures promoting their cause.
Women working so actively against voting rights for women seems curious and perhaps even incongruous. Some of the reasoning and context for their motivation is found within the organization’s own records. Within the Loose papers, Legislative history section, there is a typescript document of a speech given at a hearing before committee on constitutional amendments in Feb. 1905 which states four reasons for opposing woman suffrage: many women in Massachusetts don’t petition for it, Massachusetts wouldn’t benefit from it; it is a “most inopportune” time to change the Constitution, and suffrage hasn’t proven to be beneficial elsewhere.