SOCIAL SCIENCES

Recasting the Vote: How Women of Color Transformed the Suffrage Movement

Univ. of North Carolina. Nov. 2020. 376p. ISBN 9781469659329. $32.50. SOC SCI
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Written to coincide with the centennial of the 19th Amendment, this important book reminds us that the familiar stories of women’s suffrage are woefully incomplete. Using archival sources and a plethora of other primary materials, Cahill (history, Pennsylvania State Univ.) builds her narrative around six unheralded female activists of color: Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin, Zitkala-Sa, Laura Cornelius Kellogg, Carrie Williams Clifford, Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, and Nina Otero-Warren. Compiling much more than a collective biography, however, she interweaves their histories with those of better-known suffragists, including Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Mary Church Terrell, and places their activities within the traditional trajectory of the movement from the late 19th century on. In discussing the lives of these six women, Cahill traces their different approaches to suffrage, and explains how they worked with predominantly white organizations but also fought outside them. The most important theme is how the ultimate achievement of suffrage meant different things to different groups, and how women of color needed to continue to fight even after 1920 to earn the right to vote.
VERDICT An essential work; highly recommended for scholars of the period and general readers interested in women’s history.

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