Suffragist was the term used for someone who was in the movement to gain the vote for women, whether that someone was a woman or a man. The term suffragette was originally a disparaging term coined by the British press to lampoon women in the suffrage movement in England. Over time, US women adopted the term suffragette, and both terms became acceptable.

Women suffragists were depicted in all manner of disparaging ways in the main press as women who were masculine, could not find husbands, and incapable of keeping house, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority were married with families. In contrast, suffrage newspapers like The Woman's Journal portrayed women as the hard working, professional, rational, ground-breaking persons that many of them were. They chronicled women's accomplishments in the arts, business, government, the club movement, sciences, medicine, and law.

A favorite argument of the "Antis" (anti-suffragists - those opposed to woman suffrage) was that voting would cause women to neglect their home. Using a cookbook for a fundraising project must have appealed to the suffragists' sense of irony in answering this senseless charge, as well as serving to add to the movement’s coffer.

The recipes below are copied as they appear, without temperature or baking times, in The Woman Suffrage Cookbook published by Hattie A. Burr in 1886. (I have not been adventurous enough to try any of the recipes myself).


Many arguments against granting women the right to vote centered around the consequences to the home should women take time from their "domestic sphere" to drop a ballot in a ballot box. This was an argument used against women who dared to attempt anything outside the proscribed "domestic sphere" traditionally assigned to women. Newspaperman Horace Greeley, who coined the directive "Go west young man," lamented in his New York Tribune how granting women the right to vote would only aggravate the deplorable lack of adequate cooks in the country.

This proscribed sphere of women’s action was so entrenched that many women themselves believed their sphere of action was soley domestic.

So for all the women who have had to face the ridiculous admonishment that a woman’s place is solely in the home, this gingerbread recipe is for you. It was contributed to The Woman Suffrage Cookbook by Emily A. Fifield.

"Two-thirds cup butter, one cup sugar, one cup milk, one cup molasses, two eggs, four cups flour, one teaspoonful ginger, one teaspoonful soda in the molasses, two teaspoonfuls cream of tartar in the flour."


Life on the lecture circuit accorded nothing resembling glamour for its speakers. Speaking for the cause was grueling work, and the lecturer was often faced with all sorts of unexpected situations. (See Rebels on the Road for travel experiences.) Here, Elizabeth Cady Stanton gives this account of the food fare she faced while on her tour of duty during the Kansas campaign. The governor to whom she refers was Kansas ex-Governor Charles Robinson.

"For three months we labored diligently, day after day, enduring all manner of discomforts in traveling, eating, and sleeping. As there were no roads or guideposts, we often lost our way. In going through canons and fording streams it was often so dark that the Governor was obliged to walk ahead to find the way, taking off his coat so that I could see his white shirt and slowly drive after him. Though seemingly calm and cool, I had a great dread of these night adventures, as I was in constant fear of being upset on some hill and rolled into the water. The Governor often complimented me on my courage, when I was fully aware of being tempest-tossed with anxiety. I am naturally very timid, but, being silent under strong emotions of either pleasure or pain, I am credited with being courageous in the hour of danger.

"For days, sometimes, we could find nothing at a public table that we could eat. Then passing through a little settlement we could buy dried herring, crackers, gum arabic, and slippery elm; the latter, we were told, was very nutritious. We frequently sat down to a table with bacon floating in grease, coffee without milk, sweetened with sorghum, and bread or hot biscuit, green with soda, while vegetables and fruit were seldom seen."

Given this fare, even this recipe from Mrs. Mary F. Curtis for Rebel Soup might seem appealing.

"Heat one quart of milk to the boiling point, add one cracker rolled fine; to one cup of tomatoes add one-fourth teaspoonful soda, stir, and while foaming add it to the boiling milk; put butter, salt, and pepper in the dish, and pour the soup on them."


It wasn't until 1916 that a woman was elected to Congress. Jeanette Rankin was elected to the House of Representatives two years after she led the successful campaign that won women the vote in her home state of Montana.

To appreciate the enormous effort that went into financing this movement, consider that it was thirty years between the time this recipe from Miss M. A. Hill was published in The Woman Suffrage Cookbook to raise money for the cause and Rankin's victory celebration. It would be another expensive four years after Rankin's election before the passage of the federal amendment secured the vote for all women in the country.

"Five pounds flour, six eggs, two pounds sugar, one pint yeast, three-fourths pound butter, one quart sweet milk, three-fourths pound lard, six nutmegs. Take about three pounds of the flour, and about one-third of the sugar, and stir up with the yeast and two-thirds of the milk, to rise over night, or until it begins to fall on the top; then add the rest of the ingredients and bake in loaves about the same as you would bread."


Keeping a home in the 19th Century was hard work. The domestic sphere of women included nursing sick family members at home. Until the advent of modern washing machines, it also included the making of soap for the labor intensive exercise of doing the laundry. Cookbooks of the era would include recipes for the sick as well as for making soap. Contrary to the popular myths about suffrage women, many of them were married with families and oversaw these domestic duties of their households.

Lucy Stone, by marriage a member of the Blackwell clan, was considered a model homemaker among family members, and often had nieces sent to her with the hope that some of her domestic ability might be imparted to them. In addition to editing The Woman's Journal, she also kept her own garden. Stone, a major leader in the suffrage movement, contributed her recipe for soft soap - a task that could take weeks.

"Twelve pounds of grease, and twelve pounds of crude potash will make a barrel of soft soap. Melt the grease. Dissolve the potash. Pour the grease hot into the barrel, and when the potash is cool, pour it into the hot grease; stir it a few minutes, then fill the barrel with hot water, stirring well from time to time, as the water is put in. It is well to stir it occasionally for a few weeks, but this is not essential. The older the soap, the better for use."