Winning the West for Women
The Life of Suffragist Emma Smith DeVoe
- PUBLISHED: May 2011
- SUBJECT LISTING: History / Western History, Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 288 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 20 illus.
- ISBN: 9780295990866
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
In 1856, in an opera house in Roseville, Illinois, Susan B. Anthony called for the supporters of woman suffrage to stand. The only person to rise was eight-year-old Emma Smith. And she continued to take a stand for the rest of her life. As a leader in the suffrage movement, Emma Smith DeVoe stumped across the country organizing for the cause, raising money, and helping make the West central to achieving the vote for women.
DeVoe used her feminine style to great advantage in the campaign for the vote. Rather than promoting public rallies, she encouraged women to put their energies toward influencing the votes of their fathers, brothers, and husbands. Known as the still-hunt strategy, this approach was highly successful and helped win the vote for women in Washington State in 1910. Winning the West for Women demonstrates the importance of the West in the national suffrage movement. It reveals the central role played by the National Council of Women Voters, whose members were predominantly western women, in securing the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.
Winning the West for Women also tells a larger story of dissension and discord within the suffrage movement. Though ladylike in her courtship of male support for the cause, DeVoe often clashed with other activists who disagreed with her tactics or doubted her commitment to the movement. This fascinating biography describes the real experiences of women and their relationships as they struggled to win the right to vote.
Watch the book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPLnFiZBHug
Authors & Contributors
Jennifer M. Ross-Nazzal is a historian at the NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.
A Note about Names
List of Abbreviations
1. Moral Reform and Statehood
2. The South Dakota Woman Suffrage Campaign
3. Building a National Reputation
4. The Organization Committee
5. The Northwest Campaigns
6. The Nineteenth Amendment
7. Party Women
Ross-Nazzal has nicely woven DeVoe's story into the politics of both the West and of the suffrage movement, exposing the gritty realities of both.- Angela Firkus, North Dakota History
The book provides vivid glimpses of America in its passage from the 19th into the 20th century. . . . We could use more voices like DeVoe's nowadays.- Judy Lightfoot, Crosscut
This text does vital work in reclaiming the life of Emma Smith DeVoe, giving scholars deeper knowledge of the contradictions and complexities of the suffrage campaign.- Loretta Kensigner, Pacific Northwest Quarterly
Ross-Nazzal argues convincingly that DeVoe made a vital contribution to the woman suffrage movement on both the state and national levels. While concentrating on DeVoe, this study reaffirms the important role western women played in the suffrage struggle.- Kathleen M. Green, The Annals of Iowa
What makes DeVoe's story particularly fascinating is that suffrage leaders, including Susan B. Anthrony, disapproved of DeVoe's insistence on a more feminine approach. Ross-Nazzal correctly notes that not only were suffragists critical of DeVoe's strategy but historians have been as well.- Sunu Kodumthara, Montana The Magazine of Western History
Ross-Nazzal brings the experiences of the movement to life. Her well-researched and closely chronicled account helps illuminate the significant role of women in the West and Midwest in attaining the vote for women.- Lisa R. Lindell, South Dakota History
Ross-Nazzal's study helps us understand her difficult position—determined and resourceful but constrained by financial problems and prevailing gender norms—and appreciate the extent of her impressive accomplishments.- Rebecca Mead, Oregon Historical Quarterly
Winning the West for Women is an intriguing study of the hard work, varying strategies and shifting alliances that were involved in securing the vote for women.- Barbara Lloyd McMichael, The Bellingham Herald
Ross-Nazzal is right to suggest that Emma Smith DeVoe's important role in the women's suffrage struggles of the West has been overlooked and that western women did in fact play a crucial role in winning passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.- Jason McCollom, H-Net
At long last, here is a full account of the life of Emma Smith DeVoe, the powerhouse in engineering the successful woman suffrage campaign for Washington State in 1910. A winning strategist in a minefield of activists and opponents, her story exposes the complications of western politics a century ago.- Karen J. Blair, Central Washington University
This biography tells the insider story of the first wave of feminism, complete with all the back-biting we’ve hungered for.- Melanie Gustafson, University of Vermont