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Black Women’s Suffrage in Wisconsin

This page is in progress.

Researching African Americans in the suffrage movement in Wisconsin can be a challenge. Whether due to records not being kept, not being uncovered, or being destroyed, the history of African American women can be harder to come by. Below you will find some resources about African American women in the suffrage movement and tips for finding more. You may find some more general resources regarding Black men’s suffrage in Wisconsin or Black women’s suffrage outside Wisconsin as well, which are included to provide helpful context and because of the lack of resources about Black women’s suffrage in Wisconsin more specifically.

For more on researching this topic outside of Wisconsin, see:

Found a great resource that’s not included here? Please let me know (karla.strand@wisc.edu) so I can add it! 

General Search Tips

  • In this time period, the common term used for African Americans was “colored.” While this term is no longer used, searching it in historical newspaper databases may yield more relevant primary resources.
  • When searching for a particular organization or individual, you may need to put quotation marks around the name, depending on the database you are searching. For example, searching “Political Equality League” will often search for this exact term as opposed to Political Equality League, which will expand your search to include items with any or all of the words.
  • When searching for particular women, remember that during this time period, most women went by Miss if they were not married or Mrs. In the latter case, they may have used Mrs. with their own name or Mrs. with their husband’s name. This means that you can search for “Carrie Horton” or “Mrs. Carrie Horton” but that you should also search for “Oscar Horton” or “Mrs. Oscar Horton” if you know the husband’s name. This may yield results you didn’t get from only searching the woman’s name.

Newspapers

  • BadgerLink, Wisconsin’s free online library, gives Wisconsin citizens with a library card access to the Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers database which provides some access to newspapers back to the 1800s. Users can also access Newspapers.com Library Edition here for papers from around the country.
  • Chronicling America provides free access to selected digitized historic newspaper pages from 1789-1963. The database is produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Library of Congress (LC) and state projects. The site is a long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers with descriptive information and select digitization of historic pages. Several million pages are added each year and it is updated continuously.
  • Searching historical newspapers can often yield the best materials about African American women’s suffrage. If you can’t find your local paper’s archives online, check with your local library or historical society.
  • The Chicago Defender is a paper to try when searching Wisconsin movements. This African American paper had a regular column dedicated to happenings in Wisconsin. UW-Madison has access to this paper (and other Black newspapers) via ProQuest Historical Newspapers databases (you must be affiliated with UW-Madison or visit a UW-Madison library with valid ID to access).
  • Copies of the Wisconsin Citizen, the paper of the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association, can be accessed at the Wisconsin Historical Society Library in Madison.
  • Also available via UW-Madison:

Online Resources

Primary Resources

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