Votes for Women! American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot
Votes for Women!Algonquin Books for Young Readers
Trade Hardcover, 978-1-61620-734-2
Paperback, 9781616209889
Kindle E-Book, B01N215U9L
Ages 13 & up/Grades 8 & up, 320 pages
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Buy from: Bookshop, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble

For nearly 150 years, American women did not have the right to vote. On August 18, 1920, they won that right, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified at last. To achieve that victory, some of the fiercest, most passionate women in history marched, protested, and sometimes even broke the law–for more than eight decades.

From Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who founded the suffrage movement at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, to Sojourner Truth and her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, to Alice Paul, arrested and force-fed in prison, this is the story of the American women’s suffrage movement and the private lives that fueled its leaders’ dedication. Votes for Women! explores suffragists’ often powerful, sometimes difficult relationship with the intersecting temperance and abolition campaigns, and includes an unflinching look at some of the uglier moments in women?s fight for the vote.

By turns illuminating, harrowing, and empowering, Votes for Women! paints a vibrant picture of the women whose tireless battle still inspires political, human rights, and social justice activism.


"Spanning multiple centuries, this work may be the most comprehensive account for young readers about the founders, leaders, organizers, and opponents of the American suffragist movement. Conkling takes readers back to a time when giving birth to a girl elicited sighs of pity. Women did not have the right to own property, could not enter into contracts or sign legal documents, could not keep their wages, had limited options for work, and had few legal rights overall. Over half of this thorough account focuses on the first wave of the suffragist movement, exploring the lives–personal and activist–of key players; coverage of the second wave moves faster, as women protest nonviolently, march, picket in silence, and endure unjust prison sentences. From hunger strikes to cruel and deplorable jail conditions, women endured much to get Congress to consider their vote. History buffs won’t be surprised when reading about the multiple occasions in which suffragists would put their needs before others, getting tangled in racial and class tensions with abolitionists and African-Americans who were fighting for similar rights. With black-and-white portraits, newspaper clippings, historical renderings, and photographs interspersed, the well-documented narrative is propelled by diary and autobiography accounts, speeches, newspaper articles, and conventions and court records. Almost a century after women’s right to vote was secured, Conkling delivers a tour de force–fairly neutral, at times infuriating, occasionally graphic, and reminiscent of disturbing news today."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"This is a fascinating account of the bumpy road to women’s suffrage in the U.S…Well-chosen black-and-white archival reproductions and photographs ably support the text, which makes excellent use of primary sources, including excerpts from letters and writings to bring key personalities to life."—Horn Book Magazine, starred review

"Looking for a comprehensive, well-written history of women’s fight for the right to vote? You’ve found it. Conkling draws readers in…this is great for research as well as a good read."—Booklist

"The intense drama of the 72-year battle for women’s suffrage springs vividly to life from the pages of this compulsively readable account. Expertly balancing the human interest focus on individual suffragists with critical contextual information, Conkling gives readers an overview of the movement in all its complexity from the origins of the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 to the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. Influential leaders such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Victoria Claflin Woodhull, and Alice Paul are introduced as well-rounded human beings who each wrestled in their own ways with aligning their desire for women’s suffrage with questions of morality and political strategy over abolition, temperance, and pacifism, among other issues. Covering a time period that included the Civil and First World Wars, not to mention a multitude of shifting alliances among suffragists themselves, could easily become dense or confusing; however, Conkling’s character sketches and lucid explanations make the narrative easy to follow. She highlights the dual fight of racism and sexism that Black women faced and addresses the racism of white suffragists. Well-chosen black-and-white photographs enhance the text. A time line, annotated list of primary sources, bibliography, and index make this useful for research and reports, but the quality of the writing renders it appealing for leisure reading as well. VERDICT Timely and relevant, this is an essential purchase for all collections serving middle and high school students."—School Library Journal

"This comprehensive history chronicles the almost-80-year battle for women’s suffrage. Conkling (Radioactive!) effectively sketches the complex personalities of the women who fought for women’s right to vote, beginning with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and including subsequent leaders Carrie Chapman Catt and the more radical Alice Paul. Throughout, the detailed narrative contextualizes the contributions of the many women (and men) involved, including how women’s rights intersected with the abolition movement and the impacts of the Civil War and WWI. Sidebar biographies and historical photographs help bring figures in the movement to life. Throughout, Conkling skillfully presents the women in their own words, such as Sojourner Truth’s famous speech advocating for women’s rights regardless of race, and Anthony’s rallying cry to the next generation, shortly before her death in 1906: “With such women consecrating their lives, failure is impossible!” From the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls in 1848 to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, this is a commanding and relevant account of sweeping, hard-won social reform and action."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Lively…Defiant…Pulling back the curtain on 100 years of struggle…The women who shaped the American narrative come to life with refreshing attention to detail."—New York Times Book Review

"Young readers will find fascinating, still-relevant lessons about power, persuasion and politics."—Washington Post

"[Votes for Women] gives hope that, no matter how broken the system, no matter much our beliefs seem to divide us, change can happen."—Chicago Tribune