The 2019-2020 Georgia History Festival theme, “Women’s Suffrage at 100: The 19th Amendment and Georgia History,” focuses on exploring the legacy of women’s suffrage in Georgia and the United States in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the struggle to pass the 19th Amendment, in which women won the right to vote. Throughout the Festival, the Collection Highlights Blog will share materials from GHS collections that present varying perspectives, opinions, and efforts related to the women’s suffrage movement and its legacy in Georgia.
This letter, from May 1917, was sent from Anna Howard Shaw, former president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, to Savannah suffragette and journalist Jane Judge. Written after the United States’ entry into World War I, Ms. Shaw’s letter informs Ms. Judge that she had been “conscripted” by the Council of National Defense and appointed chairman of the Woman’s Committee for War Work. As chairman she had been assigned the task of coordinating the relief work completed by women’s organizations throughout the country.
The war brought with it a pressing need for volunteers and women’s groups filled that need. While equal suffrage remained a concern for many, the immediate needs of the war took precedence. By the end of the conflict, women had joined in the war effort in various and important ways. They had provided relief, worked in munitions factories, ran farms and provided food for troops, served as nurses with the Red Cross, drove supply trucks, and even joined the Navy. Women had proven they were capable of taking on the responsibilities of citizenship and that they deserved all of the rights that go along with it.