Woman Suffrage Handkerchief Set | Artifact Spotlight

A paper box of linen handkerchiefs stating "Votes for Women" and supporting the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

  • Artifact: Woman Suffrage Felt Pennant
  • Date: Early 1900s
  • Museum Location: State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines, IA.


Leo Landis, State Curator, State Historical Society of Iowa: This artifact is a box, but inside the box are a set of six handkerchiefs made out of linen. The box is a light paper box, and it says “Votes for Women,” and “Handkerchiefs manufactured and sold for the benefit of the cause.” The cause being women's suffrage. So it's one where a local group of women could have commissioned these, and said we're selling handkerchiefs to support our suffrage group.

Handkerchiefs were generally an item used by men so it might have been something that a woman could have bought and given as a gift, or that man to show his support of women's suffrage might have bought, as well. And could have had on his table to show a friend that he was supportive of women's suffrage.

The cause of suffrage and prohibition, or as they called it, temperance, were two things that were aligned together in United States and Iowa history. The idea was that if women were given the right to vote most women would support prohibition of alcohol. That's one of the things that when we think about suffrage we don't always connect it to the idea that was also popular at the time, which was the prohibition of alcohol. So a lot of people who were supportive of women's suffrage were also active in what was known as the temperance movement, or the movement to prohibit alcohol.


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