Cover image for African American women in the struggle for the vote, 1850-1920
African American women in the struggle for the vote, 1850-1920
Terborg-Penn, Rosalyn.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Bloomington : Indiana University Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xii, 192 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Revisiting the question of race in the woman suffrage movement -- African American women in the first generation of woman suffragists : 1850-1869 -- African American woman suffragists finding their own voices : 1870s and 1880s -- Suffrage strategies and ideas : African American women leaders respond during "the nadir" -- Mobilizing to win the vote : African American women's organizations -- Anti-black woman suffrage tactics and African American women's responses -- African American women as voters and candidates -- The nineteenth amendment and its meaning for African American women.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JK1896 .T47 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Rosalyn Terborg-Penn draws from original documents to take a comprehensive look at the African American women who fought for the right to vote. She analyzes the women's own stories, and examines why they joined and how they participated in the U.S. women's suffrage movement.

Not all African American women suffragists were from elite circles. Terborg-Penn finds representation by working-class and professional women, from all parts of the nation, Some employed radical, others conservative, means to gain the right to vote. Black women, however, were unified in working to use the ballot to improve not only their own status, but the lives of black people in their communities.

Following the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, state governments in the South enacted policies which disfranchised African American women. Many white suffragists closed their eyes to these discriminatory acts. Terborg-Penn shows how every political and racial effort to keep African American women disfranchised met with their active resistance until black women finally achieved full citizenship.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Rarely has a short book accomplished so much as Terborg-Penn's seminal work. With the utmost attention to detail Terborg-Penn examines the contributions of black suffragist stalwarts, such as Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, and Mary Church Terrell, who played a pivotal role in the enfranchisement of women in American politics. She goes much further, however, by also examining the contributions of lesser-known but equally influential contributors such as Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Adella Hunt Logan, Maria L. Baldwin, Christia Adair, and Annie Simms Banks. Terborg-Penn also delves into the role played by organizations such as the National Association of Colored Women, Rhode Island League of Colored Women, and the Chicago Black Suffragists. The book is intellectually stimulating, academically sound, and seemingly a labor of love by the author. After reading the book one comes away with a renewed sense of reverence and respect for the African American female precursors to the women's liberation movement in general and African American women's suffrage in particular. It undoubtedly will become the definitive work on African American women's involvement in the mainstream woman suffrage movement and specifically on black women's struggle for the vote. All levels. R. Stewart SUNY College at Buffalo