Iowa Suffrage

Like the national suffrage movement, the fight for the right to vote in Iowa was a long, difficult battle. Although women in Iowa enjoyed more rights than in many other states, suffragists faced fierce opposition when it came to the right to vote. 

Iowa Suffrage Movement

The state’s rural landscape led Iowa suffragists to rely heavily on grassroots campaign methods to spread the idea of suffrage. Small suffrage clubs worked in tandem with the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association to circulate petitions, draft newspaper articles, give lectures, hand out flyers and later on, hold one of the first suffrage parades in the nation.

The 1908 suffrage parade in Boone was one of the first suffrage parades in the nation and proved to be a turning point in the history of the Iowa suffrage movement.

Learn the reasons why suffragists used the colors purple, white and gold to represent their movement.

What happened in the first election that women nationwide were able to vote in? Why didn’t more women turn out to vote?

In June 1916, four years before the 19th Amendment was ratified, Iowa men voted down a constitutional amendment that would allow women in the state the right to vote.

Carrie Chapman Catt

Central to the fight for women’s suffrage in the U.S. was an Iowan, Carrie Chapman Catt. She devoted most of her life to the expansion of women’s rights nationwide and around the world, and is recognized as one of the key leaders of the American women’s suffrage movement. Her political strategies and organizational skills led to the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Carrie Chapman Catt said she became a suffragist at age 13 when she noticed her mother wasn’t going to town with her father to vote.

Carrie Chapman Catt fought for women’s equality even during her time as a student at what is now Iowa State University.

What happened in the first election that women nationwide were able to vote in? Why didn’t more women turn out to vote?

In June 1916, four years before the 19th Amendment was ratified, Iowa men voted down a constitutional amendment that would allow women in the state the right to vote.

Iowa Suffragists

Learn about some Iowa women who were prominent leaders in the Iowa suffrage movement.

As pioneer suffragist, Mary Jane Coggeshall helped launch the suffrage movement in Iowa and helped mentor Carrie Chapman Catt.

Sue Wilson Brown dedicated her life to improving the lives of African Americans and served as president of the Des Moines League of Colored Women Voters.

Anna Lawther worked to build support for the suffrage movement during World War I.

Before she became involved in the suffrage movement, Flora Dunlap was a settlement house worker, but was perhaps best known for directing the 1916 suffrage referendum campaign.

Unitarian ministers and lifelong friends, Gordon and Safford served as presidents of the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association.

As a longtime women’s rights advocate, Martha Callanan used her wealth to further suffrage work in the state, most notably launching a woman suffrage newspaper.

While Amelia Bloomer is best known for the style of dress that shares her name, she also served as the first woman president of the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association.