“Stamping for Suffrage” by Kenneth Florey

by Kenneth Florey

Given past practice, it is highly likely that the US Postal Service will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the federal amendment granting women the right to vote. Doubtless it will issue at least one postage stamp honoring “Votes for Women,” if not, more probably, a “souvenir sheet,” containing a variety of stamps picturing different elements of the movement.

In 1948, for example, the post office printed a stamp honoring the “one hundred years of progress of women” featuring images of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Carrie Chapman Catt. In 1970, the PO distributed an issue for the 50th anniversary of the suffrage amendment picturing a “votes for women” touring car that was so popular during the campaign. And in 1995, it honored the 75th anniversary with a very colorful design featuring a large group of suffragists in front of the Capitol Building. Its souvenir sheets celebrating the major events of the different decades of the 20th century included a stamp delineating a woman voting.

PAST HISTORY OF THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE HONORING SUFFRAGE ACTIVISTS

The Post Office has not neglected individual suffragists either. There have been stamps honoring Susan B. Anthony (twice), Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Blackwell, Abigail Adams, Dr. Mary Walker, Julia Ward Howe, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Belva Lockwood, and Alice Paul. Still yet to be pictured are such notables as Harriot Stanton Blatch, Anna Howard Shaw, and Inez Milholland, the suffrage martyr. Victoria Woodhull, the first woman ever to run for President (1872), has not been graced with a stamp either, although her period notoriety, particularly her stance on “free love,” could preclude her from ever appearing.

But again, I suspect that in 2020 we will see a souvenir sheet picturing either famous events from the suffrage movement or famous suffragists, perhaps a combination of both. The reason why I believe in the possibility of multiple stamps is that the PO in its current budget crisis has not been bashful in printing many different series to attract stamp collectors. If cartoon characters, famous chefs, baseball players, jazz musicians, Olympic athletes, early TV memories, and Gulf Coast lighthouses can be honored with multiple issues as they have been, surely the centennial celebration of women’s right to vote should attain at least equal if not greater recognition.

Check out Kenneth Florey’s website (WomanSuffrageMemorabilia.com) and his book, “American Woman Suffrage Postcards: A Study and Catalog” (McFarland Books).

Keep in touch with us at Suffrage Centennials.