California women have been voting for US president for 100 years!

“Why We Women Must Vote in November: An Inspirational Story from the California Suffragists” by filmmaker Martha Wheelock

When we women vote for U.S. President this November, we mark the 100th anniversary of California women’s first vote for president, an election when 90 per cent of the rest of American women could NOT vote. While I was researching the story of California suffragists’ victory for the documentary film, California Women Win the Vote, I learned how they won the vote, and why this early suffrage victory made a difference in women’s lives. So, women voters, take heed of the lessons they showed us for this election season.

As we learn some much-needed women’s history, we know that women were not given the right to vote by founding fathers or by beneficent statesmen. Women had to WIN their right to vote in hard-fought campaigns over a 72 year period, beginning in 1848 at Seneca Falls, NY, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton pronounced that women have the right to vote! And Iron-Jawed Angels (from HBO- a must see!) demonstrates what suffragist Alice Paul and the White House pickets underwent to attract support for our suffrage cause –through hunger strikes.


The story of California’s suffrage campaign is less known as an early victory and as the inspiration for the rest of the country. When California women lost their first suffrage referendum in 1896 by 20,000 votes, they were not defeated, but resolute and probably darn mad. They energized the California legislature to place a suffrage amendment on the 1911 ballot. This action meant that the male voters of California would determine whether their mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters should have the right to vote. Think of the challenge that the women faced: to persuade men, who wanted their women at home, caring for their needs and families that women were suitability and importance to the society as voting citizens. An added challenge was that most women did not even know themselves why they should have the right to vote. . .

MORE OF THE ARTICLE    More information about the film.

If you write Martha Wheelock directly,, she will take 25 percent off the DVD with free shipping. Total price is $19.95. Available on the website:

For information about Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

18 responses to “California women have been voting for US president for 100 years!

    Very interesting article by Martha Wheelock about California and women voting history. This article also makes the point. I’ve sent this article to friends.

  2. Patricia Howard

    I’m on pins and needles about this election. Good to have a place to come back to that stays on track. How we won and vote and why it is important today. I visited and found articles that aren’t on the blog. Very interesting. I hope you have other features that are so helpful for the classroom for a teacher like me/

  3. Don’t know who will win this horse race. One thing, though. There hasn’t been as much attention given to women voters than ever in my lifetime. My daughter? Well, this is normal for her. I have to take her aside and remind her that we are witnessing history. And Martha’s article is a reminder.

  4. Yes, and the Catholic element was not for suffrage. A women’s place was in the home.

  5. California women have their act together. Go for it!

  6. I like what you’re up to. Such intelligent reporting. Carry on the good work. My sister subscribes and I’m visiting to see what she’s talking about.

  7. Makes me think twice.

  8. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this article together.

  9. I can’t believe there are so many stories out there, like this, which I hadn’t heard about.

  10. I visit this web page regularly. Classy presentation and solid content.

  11. Inspiring story. What happened afterwards? I suspect the same thing that happened in the UK. People went back to business as usual. But it’s not business as usual any more.

  12. Am surfing your news page from my iphone! Looking forward to all your posts! Carry on the excellent work!

  13. A long long way from John Steinbeck and Grapes of Wrath. Those were strong women back then in the dust bowl. Am not surprised that California women made such a big impact.

  14. Enjoyed reading this piece. I took it to school and told my teacher about this and ended up telling the class about things I had no idea about, like California women made inroads.

  15. It’s time we appreciate what these early activists did for us today and how they continue to lead the way.

  16. Didn’t realize why California women are the way they are. Watched the film trailer. Excellent for schools. Glad to get the word out.

  17. Unique material on an out of the way topic. Am linking your site.

  18. One of these times when I’m proud to be born and raised in California.

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