Perry Howland, town of Williamson historian, and Sue-Jane Evans, exhibits chairman for Williamson-Pultneyville Historical Society, recently took their exhibit and student activities materials to Williamson Middle School to participate in the districtwide Learning Fair.
Perry and Sue-Jane were kept busy all afternoon sharing the story of women’s equality activism in Williamson in the early part of the 20th century leading up to the successful vote on the proposition to amend the New York State Constitution. This change to the State Constitution gave women full voting rights in New York in 1917.
New York state was the first state east of the Mississippi River to grant full voting rights to women. Many states in the far west had granted full voting rights to women in the latter half of the 19th century to help them qualify for statehood. The number of registered voters was one measure of a territory’s readiness for statehood.
The successful effort here in New York state was seen as a springboard for the National Women’s Suffrage movement, which was successful in gaining ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.
Even though there was a very strong and well-organized women’s equality and suffrage organization in every town here in Wayne County, the New York proposition was defeated in every town except Savannah, where it passed with a good margin.