First Wave of Feminism

Time Period
1848  - 1920
The first women’s rights convention was held in July 1848 at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, N.Y. Organized by abolitionists Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the gathering pushed for women to have equal rights as men -- including allowing married women to own their own property and keep their own wages. But the most controversial was the right to vote.

After seven decades, the women’s suffrage movement gained an ally in President Woodrow Wilson, who in 1918 acknowledged his support for the right to vote after seeing the work women did during World War I. The next year, Congress approved the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, and it was signed into law in 1920.

Among other issues for early feminists: better wages (forming the National Women’s Trade Union League in 1903) and birth control (Margaret Sanger opened the first U.S. birth-control clinic in New York in 1916).

Interactive Timeline(s)
Prominent Religious Events and People in American History
Baptist Religious Events and People in American History
Catholic Religious Events and People in American History

Seneca Falls Convention- Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony- Wikimedia Commons

Lucretia Mott portrait- Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-42559

Suffragist parade, New York City- Library of Congress, LC-B201-3643-12

Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives receiving a deputation of female Suffragists, 1871- Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-2023

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