Jennings, Linda Deziah

Titles by this author

The Washington Equal Suffrage Association organized its first convention in 1895. Though attempts were made to place the suffrage issue on political party platforms in 1896, they were not successful. In 1897, a bill was signed by the Governor to place on the ballot a measure to strike out "male" from the suffrage clause of the state constitution, but the following year the ballot measure was defeated.

The disappointment of these defeats was doubly bitter to Washington suffragists because in the past, Washington women had won but then lost, twice, the right to vote. They first gained suffrage in 1883, enfranchised by the territorial legislature. For three and a half years, women voted in state elections, in larger proportion than men. But in 1887, at the trial of Harland, henchman of Tacoma "boss" gambler Harry Morgan, the defense challenged the right of women to act as jurors, a right that legally depended upon their right to vote, on the grounds that the bill granting them suffrage had been improperly titled. Defeated in the lower court, Harland appealed to the higher court, and won. The legislature, one chosen by the votes of both men and women, drafted a new suffrage law in 1888, but that same year the Washington Territorial Supreme Court held in Bloomer vs. Todd that the U.S. Congress only authorized territories to enfranchise male citizens, not "citizens" as the authorizing act read. Mrs. Bloomer could not be persuaded to appeal her case to the U.S. Supreme Court, and so Washington women not only lost the right to vote, but the opportunity to vote for members of the state constitutional convention, and as a result, suffrage was left out of the Washington State Constitution, enacted in 1889, the year Washington was admitted to the Union.

After the defeats of the 1890's, the Washington Equal Suffrage Association was inactive for several years, until Emma Smith De Voe, a nationally known organizer who had worked under Susan B. Anthony, moved to Washington from Illinois in 1906. She was elected president of the Association from 1907 - 1909, and during that time worked with state senator George F. Cotterill in drafting a new suffrage amendment. Renting a house in Olympia, DeVoe spent her days quietly but steadily gaining the support of legislators, and with no violent opposition raging, the Legislature passed the resolution to send the measure to the voters. Over the next twenty months, DeVoe, the Association, and suffrage supporters statewide campaigned for votes. As recounted in The History of Woman Suffrage, "The campaign was unique in its methods . . . Big demonstrations, parades and large meetings of all kinds were avoided . . .The result was that the real strength was never revealed to the enemy. The opposition was not antagonized and did not awake until election day, when it was too late."

In the midst of the campaign, while homemakers canvassed neighbors and shopkeepers, leaflets reading "Why Washington Women Want the Ballot" were distributed, and newspapers, unions, and clergy were tapped for support, the Association published Washington Women's Cook Book (1909). Compiled by suffragists and edited by Linda Jennings of LaConner, the cookbook was a collection of traditional and novel recipes, sprinkled throughout with quotes in support of a woman's right to vote. It presented vegetarian recipes, sailor's recipes (for sea birds, porpoises, and salt water bread), camp recipes and packing lists for women mountaineers, as well as the usual roasts, breads, household hints and beauty tips. It also contained the account, "How Washington Women Lost the Ballot," and as a charity cookbook, served the dual purpose of raising money and raising awareness.

Suffrage won a landslide victory in the election of November 8, 1910, winning by a majority of nearly 2 to 1. The Washington Equal Suffrage Association met for the final time in 1911, to settle bills and to formerly disband, eventually re-forming as the League of Women Voters. In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified by all the states, granting women the right to vote in all government elections.


  • Buhle, Mari Jo and Paul, The Concise History of Woman Suffrage; Selections from the Classic Work of Stanton, Anthony, Gage, and Harper. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1978.
  • Jennings, Linda Deziah, Washington Women's Cook Book. Published by The Washington Equal Suffrage Association. Seattle: Trade Register Print, 1909.
  • Kaplan, Shirlie, Ed., Pots and Politics. An Historical Cookbook from the Suffragists to the Equal Rights Amendment. Tacoma, WA: Washington State Women's Political Caucus, 1976.

Written by Anne-Marie Rachman