Advocates for women’s rights were active in Ypsilanti before the Civil War. Many of the leading proponents of women’s suffrage before the twentieth century were, like Dr. Helen Walker McAndrew and the Quirk family, veterans of the abolitionist movement. The first attempt to pass women’s suffrage in Michigan was in 1868. Decades of advocacy followed. The Ypsilanti Equal Suffrage Association was formed in June, 1912 by Julia Trowbridge, wife of Daniel Quirk Jr., to support the state-wide male vote on women’s suffrage that November. Among their many activities were public rallies here in Recreation Park. Later that year the Washtenaw Equal Suffrage Association was formed, uniting Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti activists. The Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University) Equal Suffrage Association and Men’s College Equal Suffrage joined the county-wide association as well. The ballot proposal was defeated that year, losing in Washtenaw County by less than 90 votes. Agitation continued and in 1918 Michigan women finally won the right to vote. In 1919, Michigan became the second State to ratify the 19th amendment, prohibiting the restriction of the franchise based on sex.
Click here to listen to an Oral History on Women’s Suffrage Broadcast.
Vertical Files, General Subjects: Ypsilanti Historical Society.