Local Efforts

Woman Suffrage Party

In 1916, the Woman Suffrage Party (WSP) of Chemung County was formed in Elmira with the goal to secure the vote for women of New York by state or national legislation. Membership was open to anyone in favor of women’s voting rights who signed an enrollment slip and paid 25 cents in dues. Members of the deliberately non-partisan organization distributed pro-suffrage literature, spoke at local organizations, sold Liberty Bonds, and participated in the state’s military census to promote their cause. On election day, November 6, 1917, 111 members of the WSP worked in some capacity at the polls. While the amendment was defeated by 859 votes in the county, it passed statewide.

Woman Suffrage Party of Chemung County membership card

How did the Woman Suffrage Party of Chemung County promote their cause?

  • Distributed over 60,000 fliers and leaflets promoting the 1917 suffrage amendment

  • Held 56 meetings of the WSP leading up to election day

  • Lectured at local churches, clubs, and factories to promote their cause

  • Conducted street meetings at the corner of State and Water Streets

  • Participated in nine market days at which members distributed literature and sold flowers, fruit jellies, and cakes to raise money for their efforts

  • Set up a booth at the Chemung County Fair for five days where they handed out soft drinks and 5,000 pieces of pro-suffrage literature

  • Hosted recitals, concerts, lectures, luncheons, and card parties to encourage support and fundraise

  • Brought in foreign-language speakers for lectures at immigrant churches

  • Marched in a parade through Elmira on November 3 to promote women’s suffrage

  • Sold $8,000 in Liberty Bonds

  • Went door-to-door to hundreds of homes as volunteer military census takers

Census and Inventory of the Military Resources of the State of New York

In 1917, the state conducted a systematic review of the war resources of each county. Every person in the county from the ages of 16 to 50 were to be interviewed between June 11 and June 24. Some 80 percent of the door-to-door census work was done by women. Suffragists used the census as an opportunity to put a personal face on their movement and to promote the passage of the state amendment.

Census and Inventory of the Military Resources of the State of New York certificate issued to census taker Mrs. Charles Ide, 1917.