Skip to content


Who had the power to vote?

After securing local voting rights in 1891, area suffragettes worked to expand those rights—even as others continued their efforts to keep women from voting.

In 1907 the Reverend Eliza Curtis Everton of LeRoy voiced support for the pro-suffrage movement in Illinois.

All legal reforms must come through legislation. It is, therefore, necessary, in order that she [women] may continue her work in the evolution of the human race that she be permitted a voice in legislation. Slowly but surely the world is being brought to recognize this fact, and to feel that the time is at hand when she must stand side by side with her brother in all things that are for the welfare of humanity.
— Rev. Eliza Curtis Everton, Bloomington Pantagraph, December 13, 1907

Opposition efforts continued on the national and state level.

In 1909 the Illinois organization of the National Association Opposed to Woman’s Suffrage printed and distributed 20,000 leaflets describing how suffrage would “break down the relations between men and women in the home,” claiming that it would “lessen the influence of the intelligent and true, and increase the influence of the ignorant and vicious.”

Listen to an audio clip of this story...

The headquarters of the National Association Opposed to Woman’s Suffrage in New York City.

These leaflets were printed and distributed by the National Association Opposed to Woman’s Suffrage.

Pamphlets like these were printed by the National Association Opposed to Woman's Suffrage.

The inside of a pamphlet printed by the National Association Opposed to Woman's Suffrage.

On April 13, 1909 a chartered train originating from Chicago stopped in Bloomington on its way to Springfield.

Its occupants were Illinois suffrage leaders on their way to convince the Illinois legislature to enact women’s suffrage.

Several spoke to the gathered crowd, including Ellen J. Everton of LeRoy, who along with Bloomington’s Luella McKennan and Barbara Lennon, then boarded the train to Springfield. There they would address the Illinois legislature on “the greatest issue before the American people today.”

"Votes for Women" Button, circa 1913

Many in the crowd wore “Votes for Women” buttons like this one.


The following month the Illinois Senate failed to pass the bill by one vote.

Two years later in 1911, the Senate passed the bill, but the House did not.

This Bloomington Pantagraph headline, from May 21, 1909, reads "Suffrage Bill Dead. Lacked One Vote of Constitutional Majority in the Senate."

Credit: Bloomington Pantagraph, May 21, 1909

Woman's Suit, circa 1912

>View this object in Matterport

The clothing show here was typical of the era in which women worked to attain the right to vote.


On June 11, 1913 the women of Bloomington held their breaths to see if the Illinois legislature would once more kill the women’s suffrage bill.

The bill was passed in the Illinois House by a vote of 83 to 58.

Illinois women could now vote for most state offices. The exceptions were for Illinois senators, representatives, and governor.

This headline reads "House Passes Suffrage Bill. The Much Discussed Measure Went Thru Wednesday by Vote of 83 to 58. The Senate has Acted."

On June 27, 1913 Governor Edward Dunne signed the bill that granted women the right to vote in Illinois. Present at the signing were Mrs. Frank Antoinette Funk (center) and Bert H. McCann (far left) — both from Bloomington.

Illinois is First State to Ratify Suffrage Amendment.

Credit: Bloomington Pantagraph, June 11, 1919.

Bloomington Pantagraph, June 5, 1919.

After their 1913 success, area suffrage supporters believed the passage of the 19th Amendment was in sight.

On June 4, 1919 the 19th Amendment, originally written by Susan B. Anthony and first introduced to Congress in 1878, was passed by the U.S. House and Senate, and then sent to the states for ratification.

Illinois was the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment, which went into effect in 1920.

Reflection Questions

Why did it take so long for women to get full voting rights?

What words here would explain why?

Previous: 1898 Next: 1917