Illini 411: Did U of I students fight for women’s suffrage?

Question courtesy of Erin Miller, MS ’07 IS

Women on the steps to a civic building Visit to legislators, ca. 1910. (Image courtesy of UIAA)
Question courtesy of Erin Miller, MS ’07 IS

A: You betcha—and from way back, too. During the University’s early years—we’re talking 19th century, here—suffrage was one of the most popular debate topics between the women’s and men’s student literary societies, and the women usually won. Later, during the early 20th century, students organized a Woman’s Suffrage Committee and attended speeches by famous suffragettes, including Charlotte Perkins Gilman (who wrote the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” you were supposed to read in high school English class—read it—it’s great!).

Those sorts of activities were happening all over the nation and helped to fuel the march towards women’s suffrage, which was finally achieved on Aug. 18, 1920. And just in the nick of time—1920 was an election year!

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