Explore posts on people and organizations!

This section introduces readers to both champions and opponents of suffrage extension. This may mean little more than the bare bones story of an individual or organization, although at least one bibliographic reference is included. As with other posts, we limit contributions to 500 words, a length sufficient we hope to introduce the subject without pretending to be comprehensive. We have begun with better-known contributors to campaigns. We welcome additions. If readers have special family or other knowledge about participants, we would be particularly happy to include it as part of the recovery to which this site is dedicated.

From One Feminist Wave to the Next: Laura Emma Marshall Jamieson (1882-1964)

by Veronica Strong-Boag

The Suffrage and the Second Wave Women’s Movements have often been regarded as distinct. In fact, feminism never disappeared. Laura Marshall Jamieson, who joined BC’s Political Equality League before World War One and the Women’s Committee of the New Democratic Party a half a century later, exemplifies its persistence.

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A Class Act: Grace Hartman (1918-1993)

by Veronica Strong-Boag

In 2001, sociologist Meg Luxton reminded us that Canadian feminism has always been a “Class Act”. In doing so, she highlighted a core aspect of intersectional theory that is only too readily forgotten in North America, albeit perhaps less so in monarchial Canada than in republican USA. In fact, class (or rank) is a central feature of most societies, a key determinant of opportunity and well-being, and a factor that sometimes overshadows race, sexuality, and gender.

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From London Suffragette to Vancouver Suffragist: Helena Rose Gutteridge (1879-1960)

by Veronica Strong-Boag

Much like today’s women’s movements, the suffrage cause drew great strength from a world-wide constituency. Pioneers such as Britain’s Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928), the USA’s Harriot Stanton Blatch (1856-1940), and Canada’s Nellie L. McClung (1872-1951) toured well beyond their own nations and their words encouraged global sympathies. Women of all stations in life carried political loyalties with them as visitors and emigrants to other lands. Helena Rose Gutteridge was just such a dedicated transplant from London to the far flung shores of the British Empire in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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For Racial and Women’s Equality: the Politics of Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823-1893)

by Veronica Strong-Boag

Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Black abolitionist, publisher, teacher, and suffragist, embodied feminism’s early potential for challenging ignorance and creating partnerships among justice seekers. Her columns in the Ontario newspaper, the Provincial Freeman, and contributions to the Colored Women’s Progressive Franchise Association in the U.S. carved out space for diverse voices in the construction of a broader democracy. Contemporaries were urged to embrace multiple campaigns, to fight slavery, segregation, and the oppression of women, and to widen the franchise.

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Notes on The Women’s Forum, Yangon, Myanmar, December 6 -7, 2013

by Kathy Mezei

The Women’s Forum was held in Yangon, Myanmar, December 6 and 7, 2013, an event unimaginable a couple of years ago. Drawing 400 participants from 27 countries, the Forum was located at the midtown Chatrium, a now bustling 5 star hotel facing the scenic Kandawgi Lake, where 4 or 5 years ago, you could count the number of foreigners and tourists on one hand, with the occasional German or French tour group. This was a strikingly glamorous and incongruous event, sponsored by the French Embassy (which has been active in Myanmar for a number of years),* organized, for some odd reason, by a Yangon Modeling Agency (which explains the lineup of beautifully made up and costumed Burmese women who seemed flummoxed by our queries at the registration desk), and “partnered” by corporations such as PepsiCo, Total, ACCOR, BNP Paribas, L’Oréal.

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Suffrage Voiceless Speeches

by Alison Strobel

Oratory was a common mode of expression deployed in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century US woman suffrage campaign, but during these years, women who spoke in public were thought to violate gender norms. By contrast, women who presented voiceless speeches, i.e. silently held or displayed placards that contained messages promoting their political agenda, were able to maintain social decorum while publically challenging gender norms. “A silent suffragist,” Jean Baker (2002) explains, would simply “stand in a shop window with a series of simple suffrage messages … displayed one-by-one to crowds who stopped to watch” (p. 167).

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‘Leading Compromise’: US Women Senators Confront the Political Impasse in October 2013

by Veronica Strong-Boag

Since the suffrage crusades, both scholars and popular observers have debated whether women would make a difference to ‘old boy’ agendas. Given many women’s subsequent identification with partisan politics, the discipline imposed by party whips and other pressures to toe the line, not to mention the multiple loyalties (of class, race, etc.) they share with other groups, and not always with one another, skepticism is understandable. There are nonetheless enough instances of political ‘sisterhoods’ that cross party lines to hearten the hopeful.

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Woman suffrage, eugenics, and eugenic feminism in Canada

by Cecily Devereux

The relationship of suffragism to the eugenics movement is certainly one of the most complicated and contentious aspects of the achievement of the vote for women in Canada. Many of the principles and people associated with suffragism are also associated with the ideas of the science of “race improvement” that had been named “eugenics” by Francis Galton in 1883. Galton (1822-1911), a half-cousin of Charles Darwin and a British scholar and explorer across a range of areas of study, was also a “proto-geneticist” whose writing on making “better” humans through controlled breeding provided the ground for a movement not only in Britain and the British Empire but, through the first quarter of the twentieth century, in many countries around the world. It is thus possible to make reference to a “eugenics movement” that is both nationally specific in its development and global in its spread.

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The Daughter of the Red Land—Madame Yan Li

by Huai Bao

A veteran of twenty-five years in Canada, a professor, novelist, literary prize winner, recipient of many awards and grants, and a finalist for Books in Canada’s First Novel Award, Madame Yan Li (1955-) is certainly not an ordinary woman. She has been called the “Jane Eyre of China” by readers and fans due to her inspirational life experiences—a “dreams-come-true” process of struggling for self-actualization (Zhao, 2012). Her novels also offer points of entry for understanding the relationship between female immigrants and Canadian feminism and between immigrants and the promise of Canadian democracy.

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