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The Fifth Star

Ohio’s Fight for Women’s Right to Vote

Explore Women's History, Recent Releases, Regional Interest, U.S. History, Women’s Studies


How Ohio’s women were essential to the national women’s suffrage movement

As battles over voting rights continue to be a major issue throughout the United States, Jamie Capuzza looks back at the story of Ohio—the fifth state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment— and its key role in the national women’s suffrage movement. From 1850 through 1920, Ohio’s contributions were significant: Ohioans were the first to petition a government for women’s enfranchisement, they formed the nation’s first state-level women’s rights organization, and Ohio hosted two of the earliest national women’s rights conventions.

Many of the movement’s early leaders were Ohioans, including Frances Barker Gage, a movement leader since the 1850s; Victoria Claflin Woodhull, the first woman to run for the US presidency; and Harriet Taylor Upton, president of the Ohio Women’s Suffrage Association. Also among the national leadership were African Americans with Ohio connections.

Capuzza draws on suffrage convention proceedings, state congressional reports, local media, and personal letters and diaries of Ohio reformers, creating a vivid portrait of perseverance and determination.

Author Jamie C. Capuzza is a professor in the Department of Literature and Communication Arts and directs the Gender and Sexuality Studies program at the University of Mount Union in Ohio. Her coedited volume, Transgender Communication Studies: Histories, Trends, and Trajectories, has won three national awards.