Suffrage Showdown: The Awakening of East Tennessee’s Public-Spirited Women

A Virtual Brunch Brown Bag with Dr. Carole Bucy
Saturday, June 26, 2021 - 10:30 am EDT, 9:30 am CDT 

Carole BucyContact: Angie Vicars

Carole BucyThe East Tennessee Historical Society welcomes Carole Bucy to examine the political awakening of East Tennessee women and their influence on public policies related to the needs of women and children, leading to Tennessee’s role in the successful passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. This event will be held via Zoom on Saturday June 26, at 10:30 am EDT.

With the leadership of Knoxville’s Lizzie Crozier French as the model, women throughout the region worked in diverse voluntary associations and interest groups to improve the lives of women in their own communities. After Tennessee’s Women’s Christian Temperance Union achieved statewide prohibition, East Tennessee women took the lead across the state, gathering female activists to remove the legal disabilities of women since Tennessee was behind other states in this area. 

By 1913, the Tennessee Federation of Women’s Clubs had adopted a legislative agenda and began to work on issues related to education, married women’s property rights, and child guardianship. These first steps in the political arena quickly led women to realize that the vote was an essential tool needed to achieve these goals. East Tennessee women then began to organize woman suffrage leagues. Unlike women in the state’s other two grand divisions, many East Tennessee women joined the Congressional Union, led nationally by Alice Paul, rather than Carrie Chapman Catt’s National American Woman Suffrage Association. Lizzie Crozier French was one of the few women who was able to work with both organizations. 

When the ratification of the 19th Amendment came down to one state, Tennessee became the site of the final showdown. It was due to the hard work of the East Tennessee suffragists that the amendment had the votes for ratification. 

The Suffrage Showdown program is free. We ask participants to email to register. We will email the Zoom link prior to the program.

Carole Bucy is a professor of history at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee. She also currently holds the honorary position of Davidson County Historian.

This program is one in a series of Zoom Brown Bag programs and Saturday lectures to be offered this spring and summer, sponsored by the Albers Family Foundation in memory of Harriet Z. Albers and by Gentry-Griffey Funeral Home in Knoxville. The East Tennessee Historical Society is privileged to share regional history with our members and the public.