Crenshaw House & Equal Suffrage League, Richmond, Slideshow

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ESL's Widening Scope.


The ESL, however, also understood the specific environment in which it was operating in Virginia and sought to use that environment to its advantage. This flier addresses why mothers should have the vote. Many organizations used traditional gender roles to oppose a federal suffrage amendment, so the ESL opted to use those roles to help their case. Why, the ESL asked, should a mother not have the ability to influence the conditions in which her children are raised?
   The ESL held weekly meetings beginning December 2, 1909, to discuss topics that could be influenced by the vote including labor conditions, public health, and city planning. It formed a Legislative Committee whose job was to track General Assembly social welfare bills that the league would want to support or oppose, such as those impacting the inspection of the milk supply.
   Political involvement came to be seen as a necessary and natural complement to its cause. In 1913, the ESL expanded its official slate to include working for passage of progressive reforms as well as suffrage. That year, it passed resolutions endorsing equal pay for equal work, university education for women, equal guardianship of women, an 8-hour work day, and the abolition of child labor.
   Through the education of its own members, the ESL moved to promote women’s status and public welfare, and in this way encouraged Virginia women to extend their sphere into politics, progressive reform, and eventually feminism.
  
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