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11.2.3 Mmes. L.H. Coffin, J. Pinther, Jr. and Hanna Kane with California Equal Suffrage banner, Oakland

Three women march in Oakland, California, in 1908. One woman carries a California Equal Suffrage banner. A crowd of women and men are visible behind the three woman marchers.
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Photographic Print

Taken in August, 1908, more than three years before women in California won the right to vote, but also more than 30 years after women’s suffrage became a priority for some women in the state, this photograph shows how women worked to get the public’s attention about the importance of voting. The photograph documents what has been reported to be the first parade of suffragists in California, staged outside a Republican Party convention in Oakland. The California Equal Suffrage Association led this parade. Based on the dress and racial composition of the women in the foreground and in the background of the photograph, who do you think belonged to this organization? While marching in public is more common in today’s society, it was much less common — and much more controversial — in the early 1900s. Why do you think they would use these tactics to advocate for suffrage?

Taken in August, 1908, more than three years before women in California won the right to vote, but also more than 30 years after women’s suffrage became a priority for women in the state, this photograph shows how women worked to get the public’s attention about the importance of voting. The photograph documents what has been reported to be the first parade of suffragists in California, staged outside a Republican Party convention in Oakland. The California Equal Suffrage Association, an umbrella organization of clubwomen and working women, led this parade. 


Ask your students to observe and analyze the people and the setting of the picture. They may wish to start with the following questions: Based on the dress and racial composition of the women in the foreground and in the background of the photograph, who do you think belonged to this organization? While marching in public is more common in today’s society, it was much less common and much more controversial in the early 1900s. Why do you think they would use these tactics to advocate for suffrage? An understanding of the radical methods that suffragists used to get attention will be important for students to understand the historical context of the movements.