This photo, brought to my attention by Richard Elsom, shows an 1896 meeting of Suffragist leaders: standing (l to r) Ida Husted Harper, Selena Solomons, Carrie Chapman Catt, Annie Bidwell, (seated) Lucy Anthony, Dr. Anna H. Shaw, Susan B. Anthony, Ellen Clark Sargent, and Mary Hay.
Although prominent in the women’s rights movement, most of these names are no longer familiar to us, but here in Chico we know Annie Bidwell, and everyone knows Susan B. Anthony, leader in the movement for women’s suffrage.
The photo was taken at the 3rd annual Women’s Congress of the Pacific Coast, held in San Francisco in May, 1896. The foremost issue at the convention was the vote, and the delegates rejoiced that the California Republican Convention had just endorsed women’s suffrage at their convention in Sacramento. The San Francisco Call newspaper, which gave the Women’s Congress extensive coverage, also endorsed votes for women.
Susan B. Anthony was a forceful and popular speaker. She believed that women’s votes could clean up politics.
The women felt that they were making great progress in getting public opinion on their side and thought that it would not be long before women in California would be voting in elections. Alas, it would be another 15 years before the state of California acknowledged women’s right to vote.
Other items addressed at these Women’s Congresses were prohibition of alcohol (a major issue), public education, especially the benefits of kindergarten, uplift of minority women (Chinese, Japanese, Indians), and dress reform. Annie’s had a comment on divided skirts for riding.
Why she “owed it as a duty to her children” when she didn’t have any is a puzzle, but it may have been a matter of setting a healthy example for all. Here is a picture of Annie in her “bifurcated garments” riding astride.