The Impact of the School

The School and New Hampshire

The School was regarded as a huge success by participants, media, and onlookers. At the end of the NH School, the participants voted unanimously to hold another program the following year. They anticipated an even larger group then, “when the women of the State realize that the purpose of the undertaking is to crystalize their thought and to afford an opportunity for consideration before enrolling in a political party" (CSM  7/18/1919). There they would "demonstrate to their husbands, brothers and sons just how the cities, towns, counties, State and Nation should be run" (Boston Globe 7/13/1919). Professor James Richardson of Dartmouth College, who attended the School, pledged support for the next year and offered the use of the Dartmouth campus. The New Hampshire (6/9/1920 and 9/29/1920) indicates that a second school was held for two days at NHC the week of August 17th-20th, 1920, soon before the first presidential election for women. There, “[t]he new voters received with interest the explanation of the important factors of a political campaign and afterwards were advised as to the most sagacious methods of voting” (The New Hampshire, 9/29/1920).

Beyond New Hampshire

The suffragists and leaders who were involved with the original School resolved to replicate it around the country. “[T]he movement for citizenship training by colleges and women’s organizations together received a tremendous impulse” from the School at NH College (American Review of Reviews, 1921). The League of Women Voters, which was the reincarnation of NAWSA beginning in 1919,  immediately began holding similar schools “through universities, colleges, normal, high and primary schools” (ARR, 1921). Universities from Massachusetts to Oklahoma to Utah held their own versions. The University of Missouri even mandated a citizenship course for all freshmen, and the universities of Virginia and Iowa put women on their extension faculty to teach citizenship to women around their states. Private colleges in several states, including many in Iowa, held similar programs; the South Carolina all female College of Rock Hill required citizenship as part of its curriculum. In sessions at the University of Minnesota, women were so interested that for one lecture they needed to find a venue to hold 800 people (The Woman Citizen 12/20/1919, 620). Maine held its first School in Lewiston at Bates College in August of 1920. Speakers included Nancy Schoonmaker and Mrs. Maude Park Wood of NAWSA (CSM 7/14/1920). Yale University held a similar School on October 24th, 1921, which was taught entirely by Yale professors, including former President William Howard Taft (ARR, 1921).

In the end, hundreds of similar programs took place all over the country and the League of Women Voters held several schools to train leaders to hold their own local schools. The League had a plan for every state as well as a correspondence course for Alaska. The League wrote: “No state shall feel that it has approached training for citizenship unless it shall hold one citizenship school in each county and additional schools in such townships and wards as will reach every election precinct" (ARR, 1921). The School for Citizenship at NH College, brainchild of Portsmouth resident Mary Ines Wood, affected women throughout the country.

Ratification of the 19th Amendment in New Hampshire

On September 8-10, 1919, two months after the School, the NH state government met in a special session to consider the suffrage amendment to the federal Constitution. Two women involved with the School spoke for and against the amendment. Mary I. Wood, convener and parliamentarian of the School, gave an impassioned argument for woman suffrage. Mrs. Frank S. Streeter, who had presented on child welfare at the School, spoke in opposition to women's right to vote (as did three other speakers). Yet, Mrs. Wood's position won out. The Granite states, “A joint resolution, ratifying the amendment on the part of the state of New Hampshire, was passed in the House by a roll-call vote of 212 to 142 and in the Senate by 14 to 10.” With that vote, NH became the second New England state to ratify the amendment. The Granite’s editorial from the end of the year reflected on that special session:

"It placed the state of New Hampshire on the right side of one of the great questions of the day and gave her action an influence comparable in importance with that vote of hers which ratified finally the first Constitution of the United States of America. The right of women to vote, always evident, but long denied, soon will be granted to them in full measure throughout the nation, and it is gratifying to our sense of state pride that New Hampshire is recorded among the first, rather than among the last, of the states to ratify the Federal suffrage amendment. It is fitting that this should be so, for, taken as a group, there is no constituency of women in this country or in the world more worthy of the ballot or more capable of using it intelligently and to good purpose than the women of New Hampshire. With them holding the balance of political power we shall expect to see the demagogue and the partisan less influential than in the past and more consideration given to those leaders who believe in good causes and who have the courage of their convictions."

On August 18, 1920, Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, becoming the 36th and confirming state of the required three fourths. On August 26th, 1920, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the ratification just in time for women around the country, and in New Hampshire, to vote in the 1920 general election. They have participated ever since.