Views of the Suffragette

Effie Salthouse Commonplace Book

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Effie Salthouse Commonplace Book / COU:4442

Through the first decade of the twentieth century, Effie Salthouse circulated a commonplace book among her friends with an invitation to contribute a sketch or poem. The illustration of a woman whose hair is piled stylishly atop her head evokes the Gibson Girl, an interpretation of the feminine ideal popularized by the day’s newspapers and magazines.  The Gibson Girl was fashionable, confident, and witty.  Though she modeled progressive values such as education and an enterprising spirit, the Gibson Girl did not concern herself with politics.

"Women Voters / Vote Against Wilson..."

"Women Voters" Broadside                                                                              James F. Willard Collection / COU:1730:02:035:001

Many aspects of the Gibson Girl were adopted by suffragists for their own magazines and print campaigns.  Cartoon artists like Nina Allender portrayed activists as young, bright, and feminine.  Attacking stereotypes of the suffragette as man-hating spinster or negligent mother, Allender used illustration to argue feminine qualities like beauty and motherhood would elevate and purify politics.  In a 1916 broadside urging women to vote against Democratic candidates for Congress, and thereby Woodrow Wilson, an Allender suffragette throws her stylish hat into the ring.