Women's Suffrage Movement in Piedmont
To publicize their Cause as widely as possible, suffragists produced pin-back buttons, pennants and posters. They created postcards, playing cards and shopping bags. They used electric signs, 8-foot tall billboards and lantern slides at night to flash their message. They distributed over three million pieces of literature and over 90,000 “Votes for Women” buttons in Southern California alone.
Learning from earlier elections, suffrage leaders anticipated strong opposition by saloon and business interests in the cities who feared prohibition so they concentrated their forces on the rural districts. Speakers, organizers, automobile tours and press material were sent to reach distant voters in the remote corners of the great state. Women in every county organized clubs and associations to win the support of prominent men, newspaper editors, business and clergymen as well as individual voters.
On Election Day, October 10, 1911, the measure was soundly defeated in the San Francisco Bay Area and just barely passed in Los Angeles. Disheartened and disappointed, suffragists began to plan yet another campaign when late reports from the rural counties began to swing the vote in their favor.
When the long count was finally completed several days later, Equal Suffrage had passed by only 3,587 votes – an average majority of one vote in each precinct in the state. The final count was 125,037 to 121,450, making California the 6th state in the nation to give women the right to vote.
The right to vote in California not only allowed women to participate in the democratic process, but also led to women being elected into office. In 1918, Grace S. Dorris, Esto B. Broughton, Anna L. Saylor, and Elizabeth Hughes were the first four women to be elected to the California State Assembly; these women were among the first to hold distinguishable roles in state government advocating for women's rights.
California's women's suffrage campaign inspired other states to join the movement. Nearly a decade after women won the right to vote in California, women were granted this right in all states at the federal level with the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution on August 26, 1920. Today, this day is known as Women’s Equality Day. Suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony played pivotal roles in this movement successfully giving female voters the right to a ballot.
Oakland Tribune - Sun - Jun. 10, 1973
San Francisco Chronicle - Mon - Jul. 20, 1908
Twelve auxiliary groups sprang up around the country, including in California, where a group of prominent suffragists with political clout formed the California Silk Culture Association.
Led by Elise Wiehe Hittell, wife of state senator and eminent California historian Theodore H. Hittell, the association’s members included Laura de Force Gordon, co-founder of the California Woman Suffrage Association, journalist, and the second female lawyer admitted to the state bar; Ellen Clark Sargent, treasurer of the National Woman Suffrage Association and wife of U.S. Senator Aaron Sargent; and Windsor’s Sarah Myers Latimer, a co-founder of the Sonoma Country Woman Suffrage Association and wife of California Superior Court Judge Lorenzo Latimer.
Winning Equal Suffrage in California: Reports of Committees of the College by College Equal Suffrage League of Northern California,Publication date 1913
The San Francisco Call - Mon - Oct. 2, 1911
The Evening Times Star - Fri - Sep. 22, 1911
The San Francisco Call - Sun - Jun. 11 - 1911
San Francisco Chronicle - Mon - Oct. 9, 1911
The San Francisco Examiner - Sun - Sep. 24, 1911
The San Francisco Call - Sun - Aug. 15, 1909
The San Francisco Call - Fri - Sep. 15, 1911