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Spotlight on the Archives: Stoneman Aids Other Women in First Votes

Kate Stoneman

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We know Kate Stoneman was an advocate and dedicated her life to securing the right to vote for women.
An article from the Albany Morning Express on April 15, 1880 describes a group of women heading to vote in the city of Albany’s charter election. At the time, women were able to vote and serve on school boards. In 1880, Stoneman assisted in forming the Women’s Suffrage Society of Albany.

Express article

School suffrage was one of several types of limited voting rights for women that could be passed in the New York state legislature without having to go through the lengthy process of amending the state constitution. Because women were traditionally in charge of caring for children, school suffrage was relatively easy to get passed; yet everyone realized that it was a step on the “slippery slope to full enfranchisement,” according to a Biographical Sketch of Kate Stoneman by Sue Boland. 
So, when women made their way to vote in the school elections, even though they were allowed, they faced intimidation, verbal abuse, and threats of violence, twenty-five to thirty women voted in Albany's charter election on that day in April. Kate Stoneman was at the polls before they opened and became the first woman to vote in Albany.
38 years later, in 1918, at age 77, she continued her work as a poll watcher. She stressed how different things were when she was a young woman:
 “  . . . there were only seven occupations open to women, all more or less connected with the pursuits of women, housekeeping, sewing, cooking, tailoring, domestic nursing, teaching in ‘dame' schools, and shop work.”
   I cannot quite realize that this is the same world then and now. It is as though the minds of the universe had been taken out to air, and had imbibed some new germs which have universally taken seed . . .. we have metamorphosed into a series of communities in which equality between sexes is an undisputed matter of fact.”
Stoneman was characteristically modest and is recorded as saying, “I have done my bit, and yet it was only just a bit.”

Kate Stoneman Logo w Transpaprent Background

Please join us for the 30th annual Kate Stoneman Day on March 27, 2024.