Text by Jennifer Harlan
Introduction by Veronica Chambers, Jennifer Harlan and Jennifer Schuessler
Aug. 20, 2020
On May 18, 1915, crowds streamed into the Polo Grounds in Manhattan to watch the New York Giants take on the Chicago Cubs. But beyond the diamond, a bigger contest was brewing.
The state of New York was gearing up to hold a referendum, putting the question of women’s suffrage to its (all-male) electorate. Supporters of the cause organized a “suffrage day” game, luring potential voters with the offer of a piece of chocolate cake with every ticket purchased at their headquarters. They festooned the stadium with yellow banners and printed baseball-themed fliers, with exhortations like “Fans, Fair Play” and “Make a Home Run for Suffrage.”
Everybody, The New York Times noted, “had a ‘lovely’ time.” But the festive mood would fizzle out come November: The men of New York rejected the suffrage measure, and its women would have to work another two years for the right to vote.
Votes for women was a demand that was both radical and all-American. And the nearly century-long history of how women won that right is as colorful and kaleidoscopic as it is complicated and almost impossible to sum up.