As early as 1848, activists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony began fighting for a woman’s right to vote in the United States. This struggle came to Tucson, Arizona with Frances Willard who at the time was the president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Activists successfully introduced bills “to Extend the Right of Suffrage to Women” in 1881, 1883, and 1885 but the Territorial Legislature defeated them each time.
As Arizona began its bid for statehood in 1891 the issue of women’s suffrage was again discussed, this time during the first Arizona Constitutional Convention. The problem was raised by Josephine Hughes, Frances Munds, Mary J. R. West, and Mable Ann Hakes. Unfortunately, statehood, and as result suffrage, was denied by President Benjamin Harrison. Arizona would not be allowed to pursue statehood again for 10 years. In the meantime, aspiring voters formed the Arizona Suffrage Association with future senator Frances Willard Munds as secretary.
In 1903, it seemed that the work of these suffragettes would finally find success when a Suffrage Bill was passed by both houses of the Arizona Legislature. Despite its success, Governor Alexander Brodie vetoed the bill citing constitutional issues.
The Second Arizona Constitutional Convention in 1910 provided another opportunity. The National Women’s Suffrage Association sent representatives and money to Arizona to encourage the writing of women’s suffrage into the state constitution. This time Governor Brodie objected because he thought it would jeopardize the bid for statehood with President William Taft.
Eventually, Arizona became a state on February 14, 1912, and activists were prepared to ask voters to decide the fate of women voters. The initiative qualified for the ballot on July 5, 1912. By November of that same year, voters (all men) overwhelmingly approved women’s suffrage, and Arizona joined nine other states: Wyoming (1869), Colorado, Utah (1870), Idaho, Washington, California, Oregon, and Kansas (1912). It would be another eight years until the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” would pass on August 26, 1920.
Read About It
Use the document analysis sheet and the photograph analysis sheet to uncover clues about the people that created the documents.
- Women's Suffrage Petition
- Nomination paper for Mrs. Leroy Ikeberry, August 10, 1914
- Nomination paper for Mrs. Rose Krebs, August 7, 1914
- Letter from R. E. Merritt, State Inspector to Mit Sims [sic], August 16, 1919
- Oath of Office of Ethel Hale, August 16, 1919
- Telegram to George W. P. Hunt, from citizens of Globe Arizona, February 27, 1899
- Telegram from Citizens of Globe to George W. P. Hunt 1899
- Handbill Votes for Women
- Speech by Frances Willard Munds written between 1911 and 1912
- The Arizona Equal Campaign Suffrage Committee
- When did the fight for women's suffrage begin in Arizona? When did it end?
- Who fought for and against women’s suffrage?
- How did women work for suffrage?
- Where in Arizona did women work to achieve suffrage?
- Why did women want the right to vote and hold public office?
Visit the websites below to learn more. Based on this new information, have your answers to the questions above changed?