Women’s suffrage in Nebraska was a long battle, and in the weeks leading up to the centennial of 19th Amendment on August 26th, we’re going to explore some of the ins and outs of our state’s history throughout the suffrage movement.

National women’s suffrage movements began in 1848, but when progress in this nation-wide campaign slowed, many switched gears to target individual state governments, fighting for the ratification of suffrage on a state-by-state basis. In Nebraska, interest in the women’s suffrage movement dated as early as 1855, before the territory had even become a state. Interest was sparked when Amelia Bloomer (of female trouser fame) spoke that year at the Douglas House Hotel. Both Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton would come to speak in Omaha in the 1860’s, and many parades, conventions, and events were held in support of the movement.[1]

Amelia Bloomer. Image courtesy of the National Women’s History Museum, https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/amelia-bloomer

This wave of interest culminated in the early 1880s when Erasmus M. Correll of Hebron, Nebraska (Thayer County) introduced a bill to the Nebraska House of Representatives that would open the question of women’s suffrage up to a state-wide vote. Correll founded the Lincoln-based Western Women’s Journal to support the initiative, and more nationally-known speakers came to Omaha to attend conventions held by the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association.

Erasmus Correll. Image courtesy of Thayer County Museum, accessed https://www.jstor.org/stable/23533583?seq=5#metadata_info_tab_contents

When the vote was put to the [all-male] electorate in November of 1882, it was soundly defeated 25,756 to 50,693.[2]

In the years following this defeat, many proponents of women’s suffrage focused their attention on other causes, such as temperance. It wouldn’t be until the 1910s that many of Nebraska’s iconic female suffragists would take the stage

And because this year is an election year, you can show your appreciation to the men and women who fought for decades for voting equality by making sure you’re registered to vote! https://vote.gov/

[1] National Parks Service. Nebraska and the 19th Amendment, https://www.nps.gov/articles/nebraska-and-the-19th-amendment.htm

[2] History Nebraska. Woman Suffrage, https://history.nebraska.gov/publications/woman-suffrage-0

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