Timeline of women's suffrage in Rhode Island

This is a timeline of women's suffrage in Rhode Island. Women's suffrage in Rhode Island started with women's rights activities, such as convention planning and publications of women's rights journals. The first women's suffrage group in Rhode Island was founded in 1868. A women's suffrage amendment was decided by referendum on April 6, 1887, but it failed by a large amount. Finally, in 1917, Rhode Island women gained the right to vote in presidential elections. On January 6, 1920, Rhode Island became the twenty-fourth state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment.

Suffrage workers visit the Rhode Island governor at state house to urge early ratification of 19th Amendment, July 15, 1919

19th century

Rhode Island Women Address of Elizabeth Buffum Chace Before the Rhode Island Woman Suffrage Association in October 1891




  • Anna W. Spencer publishes The Pioneer and Woman's Advocate.[2]







  • Three women run unsuccessfully for school committee office: Elizabeth Churchill, Sarah Doyle, and Rhoda Peckham.[2]


  • Three women are elected to the Providence School Committee: Anna E. Aldrich, Elizabeth C. Hicks and Abby D. Slocum.[2]




  • A women's suffrage amendment bill is introduced by Representative Edward L. Freeman in the General Assembly.[5]


  • The women's suffrage amendment passes both houses of the General Assembly. It has to pass one more time to be valid.[5]


  • The women's suffrage amendment again passes both houses and will now go out for a voter referendum.[5]
  • April 6: The election for the amendment is held, but it fails.[6]
  • August 11: The New England Woman Suffrage Association (NEWSA) held a conference in the Casino Theatre in Newport.[7]



  • A "special appeal" goes before the general assembly for women in Rhode Island to vote in presidential elections.[8]


  • Jeanette S. French speaks at a hearing in the senate of the general assembly.[8]


  • A commission to revise the state constitution is appointed by the governor.[8]
  • May 11: Suffragists present their objections to the Constitutional Committee.[8]

20th century

Woman suffrage gathering at the Newport Marble House of Alva Belmont on September 12, 1909



  • Suffragists in Rhode Island get the endorsement of the State Central Trades and Labor Unions.[9]




  • Cora Mitchell forms the Newport County Woman Suffrage League.[12]




  • A branch of the Rhode Island Association in Opposition to Woman Suffrage is formed in Newport.[14]


  • The Rhode Island Women's Suffrage Party is created.[3]
  • Bertha G. Higgins convinces the Rhode Island Union of Colored Women's Clubs to endorse women's suffrage.[15]



  • The Rhode Island Women's Suffrage Party, RIWSA, and the Rhode Island College Equal Suffrage League merge to form the Rhode Island Equal Suffrage Association.[3]
  • September 15: Rhode Island suffragists, Ingeborg Kindstedt and Maria Kindberg, accompany Sara Bard Field on a cross country trip by car.[17]


  • Wife of Governor Charles Warren Lippitt, Margaret Farnum Lippitt, testifies against women's presidential suffrage at the Senate General Assembly.[18]


"Women of Rhode Island You Can Vote for the Next President" 1917 broadside
  • February 17: A luncheon at the Naragansett Hotel is held in honor of Carrie Chapman Catt.[19]
  • March 6: The Congressional Union of Providence, Rhode Island is formed.[17]
  • The Rhode Island Union of Colored Women's Clubs endorses a federal suffrage amendment.[20]


  • February 8: Another presidential suffrage bill is introduced.[21]
  • April 11: The presidential bill passes the general assembly Senate.[21]
  • April 17: The presidential suffrage bill passes both houses.[21]
  • April 18: Governor Robert Livingston Beeckman signs the presidential suffrage bill.[21]




  • Rhode Island abolishes the requirement of property-owning being tied to suffrage.[23]

See also


  1. Stevens, Elizabeth C. "The Struggle for Woman Suffrage in Rhode Island". EnCompass. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  2. DeSimone, Russell (3 July 2020). "Rhode Island's Long Quest for Women's Suffrage". Small State Big History. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  3. Manning, Lucinda (2001). "Records of the League of Women Voters of Rhode Island". Rhode Island Historical Society Manuscripts Division. revised by Kim Nusco. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  4. "Elizabeth Buffum Chace, Inducted 2002". Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  5. Anthony & Harper 1902, p. 909.
  6. Anthony & Harper 1902, p. 911.
  7. "Newport Woman Suffrage Association". Newport Mercury. 1887-08-06. p. 1. Retrieved 2020-10-01 via Newspapers.com.
  8. Anthony & Harper 1902, p. 912.
  9. Harper 1922, p. 565.
  10. Harper 1922, p. 565-566.
  11. "Died". The New York Age. 1914-07-09. p. 8. Retrieved 2020-10-03 via Newspapers.com.
  12. Harper 1922, p. 577.
  13. Harper 1922, p. 567.
  14. "Opposed to Suffrage". Newport Daily News. 1912-10-11. p. 5. Retrieved 2020-10-01 via Newspapers.com.
  15. Miller, Elisa (2018). "Biographical Sketch of Bertha G. Higgins". Biographical Database of Black Woman Suffragists via Alexander Street.
  16. "America's Suffragette Movement began with a Tea Party". Boston Tea Party Ships. Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  17. DeSimone, Russell (11 January 2020). "Rhode Island's Two Unheralded Suffragists". Small State Big History. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  18. "Suffrage Timeline". Lippit House Project. Retrieved 2020-09-30.
  19. Harper 1922, p. 570.
  20. "Resolution of the R.I. Union Colored Women's Clubs Supporting the Federal Woman Suffrage Amendment". DocsTeach. Retrieved 2020-09-29.
  21. Harper 1922, p. 576.
  22. "Rhode Island and the 19th Amendment". U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  23. "Suffrage Timeline". Lippit House Project. Retrieved 2020-09-30.