Woman's Who's Who of America, 1914-15/A Suffrage Referendum


In preparing the data-sheet for Woman's Who's Who of America, the editor realized that a very large proportion of the women interrogated would be interested, one way or the other, in the suffrage question, which loomed conspicuously above the horizon of public interest. Since then the question has reached deeper interest. More States have granted the franchise to women, a new National party has put a woman-suffrage plank in its platform, and women themselves have become more and more active, some in the propaganda for, and others in opposition to, the further extension of the franchise to women.

So far as it was possible to do so, Woman's Who's Who of America has in this volume given expression to the individual views of the women, represented in it, on the suffrage question. Most of those interrogated made answer to the inquiry in regard to their stand on suffrage, but many did not. Some frankly declared themselves to be undecided, many ignored the question entirely, and several wrote letters asking that nothing be said about their suffrage views, for personal or business reasons. One said: "I'm in favor of it, but don't put that in, for my husband forbids it." This is the only Woman-Afraid-of-Her-Husband disclosed in the entire editorial correspondence.

In a few cases the record on the suffrage question was changed in the proof on submission, two or three striking out favorable reference and noting as their reason for doing so the actions of the English militants, and as many others changing "against" to "for" as a result of change of convictions.

Space did not permit the printing of elaboration of views in regard to the suffrage which many expressed, some quite vehemently, on each side of the proposition. Some of those opposed evidently expect dire results from woman suffrage, and one is recorded as opposed to woman suffrage "on Scriptural grounds." Many of those who favor woman suffrage have at the same time disclaimed any sympathy with militancy, although the attitude of a few is expressed by the Western woman who records herself as favoring woman suffrage and being "militant if necessary." Another, a Wyoming woman, tells the editor: "I've voted every election for thirty years and haven't been corrupted yet." Several of those interrogated express themselves as in favor of limiting the franchise for men and women alike on educational or property qualifications.

It occurred to the editor that an analysis might be made of the data on the subject as printed in the book which might be informing upon the question as to whether the women of the country really desire the franchise, and with that object in view he has carefully scanned the pages to find out how many are for and how many are against woman suffrage.

In tabulating the results, nothing has been taken into consideration except the record as printed. Those have been recorded as for suffrage who have either said so in those words, or have mentioned their membership in purely suffrage organizations. In this classification the calculation has not included women who have recorded themselves as members of the Progressive or Prohibition parties without further reference to suffrage views, for though those parties have declared for suffrage for women, there are a few cases in which members of those parties have declared themselves as opposed or neutral on the suffrage question. Socialists have been counted on the suffragist side. Those who have declared themselves as against woman suffrage, or as members of anti-suffrage organizations, or who propose to confine the franchise to school or municipal questions, or to taxpaying women, have been counted in the opposition to suffrage. On the other hand, those who believe in restricted suffrage for men and women alike have been counted in favor. In other words, the record, as made up, is of those for or against equal suffrage, eliminating sex as a discriminating qualification.

The editor has compiled these figures from the printed record, even ignoring his personal knowledge, in those cases where no record has been printed, of the views of several of those who have been left out of the calculation. Those counted for woman suffrage aggregate 4787; those opposed, 773; those who have neglected to record themselves, including a very few who have gone on record as neutral, number 4084. The latter number is not made up of women entirely indifferent to the question. Some are, but among the others are some who would give little information on any subject not professional, and some others who gave no data for this book, whose sketches have been written from personal memoranda which the editor has been privately collecting for the past four years for another purpose.

As to the bearing of the figures disclosed by this analysis, it is not intended to comment here, but perhaps it is pertinent to state that not more than a hundred names, all told, of those used in the book, have been included solely for their prominence as exponents of either side of the suffrage question.