WOMEN ON THE RAILS:
Nebraska Suffragists and the Railroad
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Nebraska in 1882

Railroads in Nebraska

Victorian Women and the Railroads

Suffrage Activism in Nebraska

The 1881-1882 Suffrage Campaign

Nebraska Suffragists and the Railroad

From March 1881, until November of 1882, Nebraska suffragists traveled the state agitating for passage of a constitutional amendment that would remove the world "male" from the state's voting requirements. Because passage of the amendment was dependent on a popular vote, Nebraska suffragists had to appeal to a diverse (and highly dispersed) male electorate. Although the referendum was defeated, it carried eleven counties and earned the highest percentage of votes cast for suffrage in a popular election up to that point.

Such a result in a state of 452,400 inhabitants (eighty-seven percent of whom were living outside of important cities or towns) spread out over sixty-six counties and 76,000 square miles is a measure of the hard work of Nebraska suffragists. Crucial to the campaign was travel by organizers and guests lecturers to all parts of the state and, in most instances, suffragists relied on the railroad; because Nebraska was in the midst of a growth spurt, with new rail lines and towns springing up, access to parts of the state changed in the midst of the campaign. Using records of suffragist travels, gleaned from newspapers (particularly the campaign's Western Woman's Journal) and their own correspondence, in combination with the records of rail line development in the state, I hope to determine the degree to which suffragists relied on the railroad for campaigning and communication. The 1880s visualization done by the Railroad Project at the CDRH could be a model for this type of project. Also necessary for inclusion are the Western Woman's Journal, and extracts of letters and other newspapers.

Western Woman's Journal, 
Volume I 
Page 
I

An ongoing project created by Leslie Working, January 2007