Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, October 22, 2000, pg. 19
Here we are again in the midst of a political campaign season. What was the big political issue 90 years ago? Albion's women banded together in 1912 in their quest for the right to vote. That November, Michigan's male voters (that's all there were back then) voted on an amendment to the Michigan Constitution to allow the Michigan legislature to pass legislation to allow women to vote. Michigan's women had to convince their husbands to let them vote. It involved more than cooking delicious dinners for them as a persuasive measure.
The Albion Suffrage Campaign was launched on Monday, August 27 1912 under the direction of the Albion Equal Suffrage Committee. Headed by Mrs. F. T. Carlton, the group met at the Women's Christian Temperance Building on E. Erie St. The "kick-off" speaker was Albion College professor C. H. Woolbert, head of the English department. He focused upon the methods that Albion women were going to use in their campaign. He encouraged local Albion men to come forward in public and identify with the suffrage movement. Eghast!
One of the local committee's first guest speakers was Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919), who delivered a rousing suffrage speech on September 5. Shaw, of course was the president of the National American Woman's Suffrage Association. She had also attended Albion College from 1873 to 1875. She was introduced here by Mrs. Frank Carlton, president of the local Suffrage committee. In her remarks, Shaw stated, "If women are going to do anything they must have tools, and the ballot which is the greatest tool that man has, should be for women also. The time has come when the ballot is essential for successful homemaking and child raising. Men want modern things but they wish women to be content with all old-fashioned things. Women change the same as men, and should have the same privileges."
Part of the local Committee work involved canvassing the city and polling every male voter as to his intentions. The work also involved distribution of literature for the suffrage cause. The election was held on November 5. The amendment carried in Albion by 137 men votes, and the close statewide outcome was unknown for several weeks.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a very rare photograph showing Suffrage banners hanging in downtown Albion in the fall of 1912. The banner across the top of Superior St. reads, "86,665 WOMEN IN MICH PAY TAXES AMOUNTING TO $3,155,266.42. TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION IS TYRANNY." In front of sisters Margaret and Sarada Dysinger's florist shop at 314 S. Superior St. (present location of a portion of Park's Drug Store) is a banner over the sidewalk that reads, "EQUAL SUFFRAGE HEADQUARTERS."
The Dysinger sisters were big promoters of the Suffrage movement, which had been growing in Albion for many years. Several weeks ago in this column we mentioned that Mary (Peabody) Sheldon-Ismon had explicitly written into the lease with the City that the Sheldon-Ismon building on S. Clinton St. was not to be used as a place of voting. And it hasn't been. Want to know why? If women couldn't vote--then why should men be allowed to vote in her building? No doubt Mary was on the suffrage bandwagon in her day, too.
1912 Suffrage Banners in Albion.
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic