Week 10 of 52: Strong Woman

For week 10 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks the theme was “Strong Woman.” I come from a long line of whom I would consider “strong women.” I have been intrigued by the various articles and podcasts that have been written lately concerning the centennial anniversary of passing the 19th Amendment (Women’s Right to Vote) that was ratified in August 1920.

In Extreme Genes Podcast episode 313, Gena Philibert-Ortega talked about the Women’s Right to Vote. She summed up the 19th Amendment saying that it prohibited the government from denying the right to vote of any US citizen on the basis of Sex.

Interestingly, the first Presidential election that Women had the right to vote in was the election in which my 10th cousin, twice removed, Warren G. Harding, won. According to Gena Philibert-Ortega in the podcast interview, not all women wanted the right to vote. They felt that their place was in the home and not in politics and only about 35% of all women voted in that first Presidential election in which they were eligible. She said that women worried that their vote might cancel out their husband’s vote and they could be perceived as becoming more manly. Some women didn’t want to interfere as, historically, when a man and woman married, they became one where the man was in charge of such matters and they didn’t want to lose their place as the caretaker of the home and family.

In an article in the FGS Forum authored by Gena Philibert-Ortega, she listed in a Women’s Suffrage Timeline that in 1917 New York women received complete suffrage.1 That is three years before the 19th Amendment. I was very curious if some of the women in my family were registered to vote, so I visited the Grosvenor Room to see if I could find them listed in the List of Registered Voters.

I didn’t have much time (and the Grosvenor Room does not have a complete collection), but I did find some of my direct-line ancestors listed in the early 1920’s as registered voters:

City of Buffalo, New York, Official List of Registered Voters City of Buffalo, 1923, Wards 14-20.
City of Buffalo, New York, Official List of Registered Voters City of Buffalo, 1923, Wards 14-20: Ward 16, District 4, page 43, 1986 Bailey Avenue, Inez Larkin, Ernest V. Larkin, Ella M. Whittaker, and Charles A. Whittaker.

It’s makes me happy to see my female ancestors listed and proud of them for being progressive. The next time I visit the Grosvenor Room, I want to check all of the voter registered lists for my ancestors that lived in Buffalo (and create a list of all of the years that they have for a locality guide). To fill in any gaps of missing years/wards that the Grosvenor Room might have, I would also like to visit the Buffalo History Museum as I know that they also have some of these voter lists.

Sources

  1. Gena Philibert-Ortega, “Votes for Women: Finding Your Female Ancestors in Voting Records,” Forum (Federation of Genealogical Societies) v. 32, no. 1, (Spring 2020): 7-11 (specifically 9).

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