Victory in California -- 1911

From Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz -- Online Notes For The Book

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This Note reflects my research into the suffrage movement in California, the successful 1911 campaign, and the key players who participated in it.

The California Suffrage Campaign Generally

The WOMAN LAWYER Bibliographic Note: Suffrage History Sources (Historiography) has the main sources I used as background to Foltz’s suffrage activities. For other useful historical background material, see WOMEN AND THE LAW: THE SOCIAL-HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE (D. Kelly Weisberg ed., 1982); WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES: A DOCUMENTARY HISTORY (Winston Langley and Vivian Fox eds., 1994); KERMIT HALL, WOMEN, LAW AND THE CONSTITUTION: MAJOR HISTORICAL INTERPRETATIONS (1987).

Sherry J. Katz discusses the impact of socialism on California women’s suffrage in Redefining ‘The Political’: Socialist Women and Party Politics in California, 1900-1920, in WE HAVE COME TO STAY, AMERICAN WOMEN AND POLITICAL PARTIES, 1886-1960 (Melanie Gustafson, Kristie Miller & Elisabeth I. Perry eds., 1999); see also Katz, Frances Nacke Noel and Sister Movements: Socialism, Feminism, and Trade Unionism in Los Angeles, 1909-1916, 67 CAL. HIST. 180, 181-89 (Sept. 1988). Mary Jo Buhle describes Los Angeles as “the only major city in the nation where [women’s political traditions] thrived among Socialist women.” WOMEN AND AMERICAN SOCIALISM, 1870-1929, at 119. These traditions, rooted in the Nineteenth Century women’s movement, included separate women’s clubs, suffrage as a main goal, and a history of ties to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Bellamy Nationalism, and the Populists.

The 1911 Campaign

On the successful 1911 campaign, two sources are especially important: GULLETT, BECOMING CITIZENS, and REBECCA MEAD, HOW THE VOTE WAS WON: WOMAN SUFFRAGE IN THE WESTERN UNITED STATES 1868-1914 (2004). In a chapter entitled, "The Western Zephyr and the 1911 California Campaign", Mead examines how suffrage organizers mobilized cross-class coalitions, mass media, and direct action tactics to create an “ambitious mass campaign.” See Susan Englander, Class Conflict and Class Coalition in the California Woman Suffrage Movement, 1907-1912 (1992) (unpublished Ph.D thesis, Stanford University); Linda Van Ingen, The Limits of State Suffrage for California Women Candidates in the Progressive Era, 73 PAC. HIST. REV. 1, 21-48 (2004); MAE SILVER AND SUE CAZALY, THE SIXTH STAR: IMAGES AND MEMORABILIA OF CALIFORNIA WOMEN’S POLITICAL HISTORY 1868-1915 (2000); Jane Apostol, Why Women Should Not Have the Vote: Anti-Suffrage Views in the Southland in 1911, 70 S. CAL. HIST. Q. 29 (1988); Ronald Schaffer, The Problem of Consciousness in the Woman’s Suffrage Movement: A California Perspective, 45 PAC. HIST. REV. 469 (1976), reprinted in 19 HISTORY OF WOMEN IN THE UNITED STATES 367, 382-91 (Nancy F. Cott ed., 1994) (discussing especially the tactics developed to win suffrage after the 1896 defeat). Schaffer's important article uses biographical data to illustrate the range of views and experience among the suffragist). A contemporary account is SELINA SOLOMONS, HOW WE WON THE VOTE IN CALIFORNIA: A TRUE STORY OF THE CAMPAIGN OF 1911 (1912) (mentioning Foltz at pages 38 and 66, and the Votes for Women Club throughout); see also HARR WAGNER, CALIFORNIA HISTORY 211 (1933) (crediting Clara Foltz completely with the 1911 victory).

Coffin and Edson

For more information on Lillian Coffin, see GULLETT, BECOMING CITIZENS: at 164, 166-67, 172, 177-78, 181 (2000); MEAD, HOW THE VOTE WAS WON, at 124, 126-32, 134, 142 (2004); MAE SILVER & SUE CAZALY, THE SIXTH STAR: IMAGES AND MEMORABILIA 54-55, 94 (2000). For a description of Governor Gillett’s broken promise, see Ida Husted Harper, 6 HWS, at 40-42.

For more information on Katherine Edson, a detailed and documented account of her activities is in Jaqueline R. Braitman, Katherine Philips Edson: A Progressive Feminist in California’s Era of Reform (1988) (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles); “A California Stateswoman: The Public Career of Katherine Phillips Edson,” 65 CAL. HIST. 82 (1986); Norris Hundley Jr., Katherine Phillips Edson and the Fight for the California Minimum Wage, 1912-1923, 29 PAC. HIST. REV. 3, 271-85 (1960); Judith Raftery, Los Angeles Clubwomen and Progressive Reform, in CALIFORNIA PROGRESSIVISM REVISITED 144, 158-64 (William Deverell & Tom Sitton eds., 1994) (discussing Edson, and Caroline Seymour Severance); Mrs. Charles Farwell Edson, Practical Idealist, CAL. OUTLOOK, Dec. 2, 1911; Woman’s Influence on State Legislation: An Address by Mrs. Charles Farwell Edson Before Los Angeles City Club, CAL. OUTLOOK, June 14, 1913.

On Edson’s major role in gaining suffrage, see GULLETT, BECOMING CITIZENS, at 188-92; KEVIN STARR, INVENTING THE DREAM: CALIFORNIA THROUGH THE PROGRESSIVE ERA at 259 (1985). The Katherine Edson Papers, found in UCLA’s Special Collections, has correspondence between her and other prominent (male) Progressives, and some letters showing her antagonism toward Foltz. Most notably, Edson opposed Foltz’s appointment as Assistant Attorney General in the strongest terms in a letter to Meyer Lissner, referring to Foltz and her brother Sam Shortridge as “caricatures.” July 12, 1921 (box 1, folder 10). The letter indicated that Foltz was being seriously considered for the post.

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