This year many of us are celebrating the centenary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. And so I’m doing some research on how the WLCB was–and was not–involved in the suffrage movement.

If you search for “suffrage” in the WLCB minutes, it appears very infrequently, giving one the impression that the Club members either didn’t care or opposed the franchise outright. We also noticed that the Club met while the National American Woman Suffrage Association was holding its 1906 convention less than a mile up the street–this particular convention was especially significant because Susan B. Anthony would give her last public address there–and no mention of the convention, or NAWSA, or anything relating to suffrage was included in the minutes for that entire year.

Further research, however, brought the WLCB suffragettes out of the woodwork. It’s become clear that the Club secretary, Lydia Crane, sought to minimize their influence by avoiding reference to them in the minutes whenever possible. The power of the secretary should never be underestimated!

We now believe that several members likely attended the NAWSA meeting in Baltimore; Club member Emily Lantz recounted details from the event 20 years after the fact in the Baltimore Sun. Others wrote in favor of suffrage, marched, and demonstrated.

One of the most interesting suffragist members of the Club was Corinne Robert Redgrave, who worked with producer Charles Frohman in NYC and also acted in and directed plays in Baltimore after moving here in the early 1900s. One of the plays in which she appeared, “How the Vote Was Won,” got a vivid (and not wholly positive) write-up in the Baltimore Evening Sun on Nov. 8, 1910.

The play was performed in the Belvedere ballroom and makes mention of “abandoned eggs and ill tomatoes” suffered by suffragettes on Court House Plaza. The writer seems to think women’s suffrage a rather silly conceit, but history tells the tale. Enjoy!

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