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Votes for Women!

Woman Suffrage Movement Inspires Hooked Rugs

By: Norma Press
Updated December 14, 2018

Window Sign, 20" x 11", #4- and 6-cut wool on linen. Adapted from a window poster published by the Americanization Society, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1919. Michigan women were enfranchised in 1918, but it took additional effort to convince women to register. Hooked by Norma Press, Geneva, New York, 2017.

Inspiration for hooked rugs comes in unexpected places. New York State celebrated its centennial of woman suffrage in 2017, and museum exhibits and special events throughout the state marked that landmark accomplishment. These exhibits showed that suffragists used powerful images as well as words to reach their goal of Votes for Women. Their powerful images inspired me to hook a series of suffrage-themed rugs and mats.

Suffragists in North America (and suffragettes in Europe) created hundreds of items to promote their cause. In the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, the Votes for Women message was used on magazines, banners, badges, posters, window signs, postcards, playing cards, mirrors, ribbons, sashes, jewelry, umbrellas—you name it! Images of these artifacts are readily available on the Internet.

What I find compelling about these images is that they represent the hopes and dreams of so many women. Some items are simple and homemade while others are complex and commercially produced. Many show artistic sensibilities in their design and graphics. Universally, they reflect the courage and daring of the determined women who created them.

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