Pleasanton Weekly

News - August 5, 2011

Museum recognizes 100 years of voting for California women

Rights were given here nine years before the 19th Amendment was ratified

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

State Sen. Ellen M. Corbett (D-San Leandro) addressed the crowd at the Museum On Main on Tuesday evening at the launch of its new California Women's Suffrage Centennial exhibit celebrating state women gaining the vote in 1911.

The exhibit, which runs through Sept. 25, explores the 40-plus-year struggle to bring women the right to vote and to hold public office.

"Of course I wanted to be here!" Corbett said.

The traveling exhibit is enhanced with local additions about what was happening in Pleasanton during that time. Photos of women show Henriette Kroeger feeding chickens at her family farm and hop pickers in Pleasanton fields.

The Pleasanton area did not vote for women's suffrage in 1911 and the exhibit attributes this to the fact that it was often perceived to be associated with the temperance movement, and wine and hops were important to the local economy.

California, although nine years ahead of the 19th Amendment passed in 1920, was not the first state to vote for Women's Suffrage. Five other states were first:

* Wyoming -- 1869

* Utah -- 1870

* Colorado -- 1893

* Idaho -- 1896

* Washington -- 1910

Local resident and wealthy philanthropist Phoebe Apperson Hearst, widow of a U.S. senator, did not support the suffrage movement at first although she changed her mind and did work for it on the national level.

"I felt convinced then that women would unite in favoring certain work tending towards the betterment of conditions affecting women and children particularly, which men heretofore could never be relied upon to favor when it came to the test of the ballot," she wrote in a letter in 1913. "I must add, however, that, while I am a suffragist, I have no sympathy whatever with the tactics of the militant suffragette."

A large photo of Hearst is displayed next to a table set for tea. The sign reads:

"Suffrage teas adapted a familiar style of female socializing and fund-raising to political organization. People were accustomed to women hosting tea parties for charity, church, and other worthy causes. It appeared more feminine than marches or picketing, and it gave suffragists good opportunities to bring their message to the public."

The Museum On Main is located at 603 Main St. For more information, visit www.museumonmain.org.

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