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IWA. Cary Club records.

1890 - 1915

From 1890 to 1915, Iowans witnessed a changing of the guard in the suffrage movement as early leaders aged or died. In many cases, younger women brought fresh hope and ideas to the cause.

By this time, many women’s clubs were discussing and debating suffrage. In 1894, Iowa women were granted partial suffrage to vote on bond issues and questions of tax increases for schools or municipalities, but, nationally, women were making slow gains.

In 1908, Boone, Iowa hosted one of the first suffrage parades in the nation.

Jennifer Riggs (Cosson) wrote several essays and speeches while at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. She argued publicly for suffrage, but did so within the context of 1890s social mores.

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SHSI Iowa City. Gilbert Haugen papers.

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IWA. Jennifer Riggs Cosson papers.

Cosson was eloquent in her defense of the rights of women to be involved in society and in politics, but was not always comfortable with militant methods such as parades or picketing. She also was not sure that women had enough education to handle the responsibilities that came with voting.

In 1909, her husband, Iowa Senator George Cosson, supported a bill to give women the vote. The bill was quickly killed.