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How Western New York played a part in the women's suffrage movement

Posted at 6:01 PM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 18:01:14-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — August 18th, 2020 marks 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment allowing women to vote. That accomplishment didn't come without a fight. It was a battle led by women like Susan B. Anthony, and in Western New York - Mary Talbert.

“Lots of these women were really dedicating their lives to get women to vote, realizing hey it may not be done in my lifetime, but at some point women are going to have equality,” said Anthony Greco, exhibit curator for the Buffalo History Museum.

The first Women's Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls in 1848, and the suffrage movement took off from there.

“You start to see in 1913 and 1914 you have large parades where you have 100,000 people lining the streets of Buffalo,” Greco said. But the movement didn't come without opposition.

"It wasn't just men who were trying to deny women the right to vote, a lot of women didn't feel they should have the vote either,” Greco said, “They didn't want to contribute to the uneducated electorate because women hadn't been traditionally educated the same way as men.”

Some also said the movement would lead to socialism and extreme feminism. But Western New York women continued to fight, bringing their beliefs to the gates of the White House.

“These women from Buffalo... These six women... the Buffalo Six we call them, left their jobs in Buffalo and went down to D.C. to protest in front of the White House and in many instances were arrested time and time again,” Greco said.

They were imprisoned, went on hunger strikes, and were even force fed to ensure women would have the right to vote.

“Right after the ratification New York forms this league of women voters in 1919. Largely what it sought to do was to educate women on how to vote, the issues of the day,” said Greco, “After 20 years women started to turn out in greater numbers than men in elections. That's a number that continues to this day and will certainly continue in November.”