Key Topics

Key topics used by, and about, the movement for woman suffrage in Tennessee

19th Amendment

Amendment to U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote in all elections, municipal, state, and federal. Certified August 26, 1920.

Abby Crawford Milton

Chattanooga suffragist with a law degree, president of the TN Equal Suffrage Association in 1920. Spent month of August 1920 in Nashville lobbying for suffrage.

Learn more about Abbey Crawford Milton on the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.

American Equal Rights Association (AERA)

Founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in 1868 to campaign for right to vote regardless of gender or race.

American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA)

Formed in 1869 to work on suffrage through state constitutions (states rights).

Alice Paul

Trained in militant suffrage action on Great Britain. Founds National Women’s Party.

Anne Dallas Dudley

Prominent suffrage leader from Nashville. Helped organize 75 Tennessee suffrage associations. Key to Tennessee suffrage amendment vote.

Learn more about Anne Dallas Dudley on the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.

Carrie Chapman Catt

Suffragist and peace activist who directed the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and founded the League of Women Voters (1920). Succeeded Susan B. Anthony as leader of 3rd generation of suffragists.

Catherine Talty Kenny

Tennessee suffragist and political activist who organized equal suffrage chapters with Anne Dallas Dudley and Abby Crawford Milton. Organized statewide suffrage effort in summer 1920.

Learn more about Catherine Talty Kenny on the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.


A peaceful, legal way of campaigning, often using recognized ‘political’ methods such as petitions.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Convened first women’s rights convention in 1848 and led first generation of movement until 1880s. Died in 1902.


To be granted the vote or the state of having the vote.

Force Feeding

Imprisoned suffragists on hunger strike were sometimes force fed. Being force fed involved a rubber tube being inserted into the throat or nose and liquidized food being poured in.


The right to vote in public elections.

Hunger Strike

Some imprisoned suffragettes went on hunger strike to further raise awareness for their cause.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

African American civil rights and woman suffrage leader from Memphis; later moves to Chicago.

Lide Smith Meriwether

Organizes and becomes president of Memphis Equal Suffrage Association in 1889, first in Tennessee.


Aggressive and violent behavior in pursuit of a political cause, favoring extreme or confrontational campaign methods.

National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA)

Formed in 1869 to work on U.S. constitutional amendment.


An individual who disagrees with war on principle.


A formal written request or application, especially one signed by many people, to a particular individual or group, for example, a government.

Progressive Movement/Era

Spanned 1890s-1920s. Government reform movement sought to eliminate problems caused by industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and political corruption.


The publication of resources and ideas designed to encourage a particular and specific response.

Seneca Falls

First Women’s Rights Convention held at Seneca Falls in 1848.


The right to vote in political elections.


Used in Great Britain, a campaigner for women’s suffrage willing to undertake militant action or to break the law.


Used in the United States, a campaigner for women’s suffrage who believes in constitutional methods of campaigning.

Sue Shelton White

West TN suffragist and leader of TN chapter of National Woman’s Party. Important suffrage lobbyist in summer 1920.

Learn more about Sue Shelton White on the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.

Susan B. Anthony

Succeeded Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1880s as leader of 2nd generation of U.S. suffragists. Responsible for 19th Amendment, but died in 1906 before ratification.

Susan B. Anthony Amendment

First introduced in Congress in 1878, would give women the right to vote. Passes as 19th Amendment in 1920.

Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association (TESA)

TN Equal Suffrage Association formed in Memphis in 1889. 75 local TN chapters by 1914.

Temperance Movement

Social movement from 1820s to 1930s against consumption of alcohol, because of alcohols negative effects on health,  family life, and domestic violence.

Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU)

Founded in 1874. Starts also working for woman suffrage in 1876.