Book Review: The Woman's Hour

On her Back in the Stacks blog, Cataloging Specialist Jan Hardy reviews "The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote" by Elaine Weiss

"The Woman’s Hour" (New York: Viking, 2018) begins with three women speeding by rail towards Nashville to lobby and campaign – Carrie Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association; Josephine Pearson, a formidable “Anti;” and Sue White, a young Tennessee activist for the more radical National Women’s Party. All three women were passionate and forceful in their own ways. Weiss explains the strategies and philosophies of both major “Suff” parties and how they mobilized to raise money, gain votes and keep politicians’ loyalties. She also examines how the “Antis” used dirty tricks such as plying politicians with free liquor and using bribes, intimidation, and even fake emergency calls from family to get them out of town.

Antis also invoked “states’ rights” and the threat of Black women voting white men out of office, “destroying” Southern “civilization” already weakened by the Civil War and Reconstruction. While all of the early suffragists began as abolitionists, some did abandon racial equality in the fight for women’s rights. Weiss details unflinchingly how, when faced with either expediency or a difficult route, suffragists took the easier way by assuring Southern men that if women could vote, black male and female voters would still be in the minority.

Read more on the Back in the Stacks Blog.

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