New York City Suffrage Parade, October 23, 1915
1915 was a pivotal year for the woman suffrage movement in New York State. After years of struggle there was a glimmer of hope that the New York State Legislature would hold a referendum on the adoption of an amendment to the New York State Constitution giving women in New York the right to vote. If the referendum failed it could not be proposed again for two years.
On October 23, 1915, under a clear blue sky, facing a biting, cold wind, thousands took to the streets, marching up Fifth Avenue from Washington Square to 59th Street. The sheer number of marchers carrying their placards and banners gave the strong statement that the demand for woman suffrage was growing, and could not be denied.
The New York Times reported over 25,000 marchers and 250,000 spectators made the day a spectacular celebration. White clad suffragists held their banners high. One woman recalled how, at 6pm the shop-girls, stenographers and clerks came off duty and joined the march, carrying it far into the night, “in the windy darkness, singing as they went.”
The referendum failed that November, and New York women would have to wait two more years for the vote. But the tide had turned, and victory was almost within their grasp.
Photographs courtesy of the Library of Congress. One above right shows women carrying a ballot box.