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Equal Suffrage League of Virginia. Buttons, ribbons, and name badges promoting woman suffrage, 1909-1922.
The Equal Suffrage League of Virginia was formed in 1909 by a small group of Richmond activists. The league elected reformer Lila Meade Valentine as its president and included writers Ellen Glasgow and Mary Johnston, artists Adele Clark and Nora Houston, and physician Kate Waller Barrett among its members. Within its first few months, the league joined with the National American Woman Suffrage Association and began a campaign to inform the citizens of the commonwealth about the suffrage issue. By canvasing house-to-house, distributing leaflets, and speaking publicly, the Equal Suffrage League sought to educate Virginia's citizens and legislators and win their support for woman suffrage. Virginia suffragists employed a variety of campaign techniques to enlist women to their cause: making speeches across the state (often from decorated automobiles), renting booths at fairs, and distributing "Votes for Women" buttons. By 1919, the league claimed twenty thousand members.
The Equal Suffrage League of Virginia Collection was donated to the Library of Virginia in 1942 by Ida Mae Thompson, a Charlotte County native who served as the office secretary at the Equal Suffrage League headquarters in Richmond. Thompson had brought her skills as a typist, manager, and tireless organizer to the league in 1913. After the organization disbanded, she continued her secretarial duties with the new League of Women Voters of Virginia. Later, as clerk for the Work Projects Administration's Virginia Historical Records Survey, Thompson gathered information on Equal Suffrage League chapters across the state. The assembled questionnaires, organizational records, membership lists, publications, buttons, ribbons, badges, and correspondence comprise the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia collection.
Location: Equal Suffrage League of Virginia Papers, ca. 1909-1935, Acc. 22002