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SHSI Des Moines. Iowa Women's Suffrage Collection.

June 5, 1916 was judgment day for the suffrage amendment. Thanks to the hard work of the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association and its able leaders, Mary Safford (1912 - 1913) and Flora Dunlap (1913 - 1916), the Iowa General Assembly had finally passed a proposed constitutional amendment in two consecutive sessions. Now it would be up to the people.

The women of the state (and some men) mobilized in full force to convince voting men to check ‘yes’ on a special ballot. Clubs spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, on campaign literature, lecturers, and another state automobile tour.

The IESA’s 1915 plan for the months leading up to the election called for fundraising, “directly through collections at meetings or solicitations of contributions; indirectly through food sales, bazaars, banquets, suffrage plays, entertainments or by any other method that fits the community.”

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SHSI Des Moines. Iowa Women's Suffrage Collection.

 

 

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IWA. Iowa Suffrage Memorial Commission records.

Between 1910 and 1916, nineteen out of twenty-six suffrage referenda in the United States were defeated. The track record in the forty years before that was even worse.

Iowa suffragists knew they had a fight ahead of them - especially in light of vigorous anti-suffrage campaigns organizing around the referendum. Suffrage supporters viewed their biggest foes as immigrants, rural voters, and the liquor industry.