The 19th Amendment guarantees American women the right to vote. Achieving this milestone required a lengthy and difficult struggle; victory took decades of agitation. Beginning in the mid-19th century, woman suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what many Americans considered radical change.
First introduced in Congress in 1878, a woman suffrage amendment was continuously proposed for the next 41 years until it passed both houses of Congress in 1919 and was ratified by the states in 1920. The campaign for woman suffrage was long, difficult, and sometimes dramatic, yet ratification did not ensure full enfranchisement. Many women remained unable to vote long into the 20th century because of discriminatory laws.
Explore photographs, textual, and other records related to suffrage in the National Archives Catalog.
Explore teaching and learning resources for the Women's Suffrage, including primary sources, online tools, lesson plans, and multimedia on DocsTeach.org, our online tool for teaching with documents.
- Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment, Primary Source Set
- DocsTeach: Women’s Suffrage
- DocsTeach: Petitions & Letters in Support of Women's Suffrage
- DocsTeach: Photos of Women's Suffrage Protests & Activities
- DocsTeach: Women of Color in the Suffrage Movement
- DocsTeach: The Anti-Suffrage Movement
- DocsTeach: Passage & Ratification of the 19th Amendment
Research at the National Archives: Suffrage
While many resources are available online for research, there are many more records to discover in National Archives’ research rooms across the country. The following records have been described at the Series and File Unit level, but have not yet been digitized. This list is not exhaustive; please consult our Catalog to browse more records, and contact the Reference Unit listed in each description for more information.
- The Committee on Woman Suffrage was created in 1917 and continued to exist until 1927, when it was abolished during the 70th Congress. The resolution to establish the committee gave it jurisdiction over all proposed legislation touching the subject of woman suffrage, a subject that had been in the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee. Committee Papers, 1919 - 1920: This series contains the committee papers for the Committee on Woman Suffrage from the 66th Congress.
- Petitions of the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections, 3/10/1871 - 1946. The records of the committee include woman suffrage, voting rights, direct election of Senators, and campaign financing.
Articles, Blog Posts, and Other Resources:
- Woman’s Place in America: Congress and Woman Suffrage
- A Petition for Universal Suffrage
- 19th Amendment
- The Making of Women’s Equality Day: NARAtions blog
- Putting the “Rat” in Ratification – Tennessee’s role in the 19th amendment: Pieces of History blog
- The Women of World War I in photographs: The Unwritten Record blog
- Taking a Stand for Voting Rights: Prologue Magazine