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Vote for Women!


Woman’s Rights…we take a lot for grated these days. It never occurred to me that Title IX was anything but some government gibberish. What does it mean to a kid, anyway? And how many kids today can tell you what it means? I had no idea it meant I could play sports or there was a time when girls couldn’t, even AFTER we got the right to vote.


Queen Victoria: She ruled huge expanses of the world. Her image was everywhere. People knew everything about her. Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; the first Empress of India of the British Raj; Princess of Hanover and Duchess of Brunswick and Lunenburg; Princess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Duchess in Saxony. Pretty impressive, huh. Other women were not so lucky.

You couldn’t obtain a divorce without an act of parliament until the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857. The first divorce initiated by a woman was only in 1801—and that woman proved her husband slept with her sister (not just the stuff of books!) AND got full custody of her children. Plus this act allowed women to keep control of their money if separated from their husbands.

In 1839 The Custody of Infants Act was passed in England:  This allowed married women of unblemished character to have access to their children after separation or divorce. Access only. Still, if you fought long enough, dirty enough, and had some great proof, it was possible to gain full custody.

Want to go to college? Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman took place after the Civil War, but prior to that, it’d be harder. csl1989l1
There were 3:

Oberlin College (women admitted 1833, African-Americans 1834).
Antioch College. When it opened in 1853, the college had 1 female professor: Rebecca Pennell, who was the first female college professor in the United States to have the same rank and pay as her male colleagues.
Bates College was founded in 1855 by abolitionists and was coeducational from inception.

The first women’s college in England? Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, founded in 1878 by Elizabeth Wordsworth, (great-niece to poet William Wordsworth and daughter of Christopher Wordsworth, Bishop of Lincoln).
In 1874, The London School of Medicine for Women was founded for the medical education of women.
In 1878 The University of London was the first to equity degrees: Women now received on on the same terms as men.

The very first government to give women the right to vote?

During the Swedish age of liberty (1718-1771), tax-paying female members of guilds, (most often widows), were allowed to vote, and stand for election, until

1771 when a new constitution was introduced.
1755: Corsica but it was rescinded upon annexation by France in 1769 (see France’s record of women’s voting below)
1756-1778: Massachusetts, Lydia Taft, Uxbridge, Massachusetts town meeting
1776: New Jersey (rescinded in 1807) What? Damn my state! We could’ve been known for something other than high taxes, garbage, mobsters, jokes!
For more, see the Wiki timeline here

womenOK, OK, really it was New Zealand and Rarotonga (capital of the Cook Islands).

Women in Rarotonga were given the right to vote in 1893, shortly after New Zealand. (England, 1928, America 1920, Spain [a woman could be elected but not vote in a election] before 1933 but only until the Franco Regime then again not until 1976…France? 1944 under the Vichy Nazi puppet government —HUH?)

PLAY: BBC History: Women’s Rights.



  1. I love this topic. Seneca Falls, NY, where the first women’s rights convention took place, isn’t far from where I live and somewhere in the family tree, we’re supposedly related to Susan B. Anthony on my dad’s side (she’s buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery here in Rochester). So women’s rights and the history behind them have always been a pet topic of mine.

    This was an interesting read, Isabel!

  2. Great topic! While researching my post-Civil War book, I’m delving into women’s medical education in 1870 because my heroine, who served as a nurse during the war wants to be a doctor.

  3. Paisley Kirkpatrick says:

    Interesting info. What I find sad is that today with so many rights, not all women appreciate how they got them and don’t use them. I think to be able to vote is one of our most prized rights. It does sound like strong women before us have laid out a lot of opportunities for us.

  4. Isabel Roman says:

    I agree, Paisley. Most people don’t appreciate the fact they can vote, let alone women who were the last ones granted that right. A roommate of mine in college refused to register to vote because she didn’t want to be on a jury. Pft.

    Susan, I found a great site on women in medical school. Let me see if I can find it again. There was something about them being pharamists, too.

  5. Yeah, I always took voting for granted, of course I can vote, I’m over 18! Until one time when I couldn’t. That had to do with my religion instead of my sex, but it sure opened my eyes as to what those strong women had to put up with in order to get us something we now take for granted.

    Of course I fought it–for several years, and it got me interested in history in the first place, but then as I was about to actually get somewhere, my case became moot. Still, a great education in the struggle for women’s rights, or any kind of human rights, really.

    Good post! 1976?? Oh man, I’ll never look at a French man the same way.

  6. Denise Eagan says:

    I have so much respect for these women and all they did for us. They were amazing.

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