Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Women’s Suffrage, An Upward Battle to Victory

In 1848, 68 women came together to sign one of the most important documents in United States History. These 68 women, and 32 men, gathered at Seneca Falls to take a stand for basic civil right that were being infringed upon. This “Declaration of Sentiments” became the bases for the women’s rights movement, outlining the many points of the agenda which they believed were most important, the chief concern being the women’s right to vote. Two women spearheaded this movement, and became two of the most important figures in United States history. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton together formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, which served to fight for women’s right to vote becoming an official amendment of the Constitution. In this way, they believed, they were securing all civil rights for every American citizen. As the struggle continued, and later became a victory, the women’s suffrage movement became one of the most important news stories for American journalists and the general public alike. As part of a list of top news stories of the 20th century, compiled by Newseum, women’s suffrage ranked as number seven on the general public’s list.
The media took a hold of this new and powerful movement and splashed it across every newspaper’s front page. The women’s movement was headline news, and reporters were using the big story as a way to draw in more readership. While watching a short documentary on the women’s suffrage, provided by Newseuam, there were a number of sources that were cited throughout the documentary. Sources such as National archives, the Library of Congress, the Susan B. Anthony House, and Sewall-Belmont House were used for intriguing information for the viewers. Also, Ms. Magazine and numerous historians were used to give information about the movement, as it was during the time. It was said that newspapers from coast to coast were covering the story and following every foot foreword. The Susan B. Anthony House, especially, provided Newseum with records of Anthony’s historical conviction along with various pictures and videos taken at the time. The power of the press was apparent during the women’s movement and showed just how influential the media can be in society.
During this time, journalism depicted what was going on in the world, as women journalists began to report on the movement from their own view. Many “special interest” newspapers began to circulate. Historians, who have studied these special interests newspapers of the time, argue that often these papers are established when rightful coverage of a story is not being given special attention. In this way, the women were able to get their voices heard. For example, when the Seneca Falls meeting was announced, the local newspaper only made one single announcement of the meeting. Therefore, it was up to many of the women involved in the movement to work harder to make their voices hear through various special interest newspapers that often times did not get as much circulation as other media outlets.
Although, at the moment there is not particular movement that can come close to comparing with the Women’s Suffrage movement of the 20th century, there are, however, stories that do not get the coverage they deserve. Therefore, it is the duty of modern journalists to search out the stories that deserve a voice. Often times, there are people who need to be heard and have no means of telling their stories. Much like the women of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, there are women around the world who need to be heard today. There is abuse, neglect, homelessness, and destitution even now, and this is where many of the hardships of women come to subsist. For this reason, it is of utmost importance for journalists to furnish society with the accurate information.

Soloman, Martha. "The Role of the Suffrage Press". St. George's University of Medicine. 04/24/09 .
Goldstein-LeVande , Meredith. "Introduction". History-Rochester. 04/24/09 .


  1. I liked your post,I did one on womens suffrage as well. What really shocked me when looking at the press coverage of the Seneca Falls meeting was how dismissive the press was of it. All of the article were very brief, only a few paragraphs, and many were outright mocking the men and women involved. I also really liked how at the end of your post you mention how there are still many womens rights issues around the world that need to be addressed by the media. it's sad that in 2009 there are so many places in the world where women still have such few rights.

  2. Even though you said that the lack of coverage at Seneca Falls prompted other news sources to sprout and that eventually there were places where women's voices could be heard, I have to say that I think the media failed during this time; at least in terms of mainstream media. Niche media outlets normally succeed in accurate coverage of issues affecting their particular community but the mainstream media seemed to downplay the importance of the Women's Suffrage Movement.
    I would’ve liked it if you had referenced actual articles written at the time. Sometimes analyzing things as simple as words or phrases used can show how balanced the reporting and editing actually was. Headlines can be another good clue to how the administration is running things and what their biases may be.
    I was curious, did the documentary agree with your theory that the coverage of Seneca Falls and the Women’s Suffrage Movement were examples of the power of the press? How much do you think the mainstream media of today follows the mainstream media of yesteryear?
    All in all, I liked your writing style but would’ve liked to see more examples.