Votes for Women: A 1910 article by Missouri Hanna, called Mother of Journalism in Washington State

  • By Lorraine McConaghy, Ph.D., Editor
  • Posted 3/05/2007
  • Essay 8107

On November 8, 1910, the male voters of Washington state went to the polls, and voted nearly 2-1 to amend the state constitution, extending the right to vote to Washington women. This 1910 article on the successful statewide campaign for woman suffrage was written by Missouri Hanna (1856-1926), often known as "Mrs. T. B. Hanna," who was known as Washington's "Mother of Journalism" and was an articulate, powerful voice for women's rights. The article is excerpted from Votes for Women, a newspaper published by Hanna from 1909-1912. Both Votes For Women and her other newspaper, The New Citizen, can be found within the collections of Seattle's  Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI). The article was excerpted by MOHAI historian Lorraine McConaghy, Ph.D., as was the brief biography of Mrs. Hanna that follows it.

Votes for Women! 

by Mrs. M. T. B. Hanna, Editor and Proprietor, Votes for Women, Vol. 1, No 11, December 1910.

The Great Victory in Washington!

To every sane, calm-thinking human being there is great cause for congratulations upon the success of the women of Washington at the election of November 8, 1910.  And yet when one thinks of it, it does seem strange that there should have to be any struggle or fight for all which is so palpably right.  Our forefathers fought in order to obtain representation.  Today women are blamed by many for doing the same thing.  But let us remember that the coming of the freedom of women, in all that the word means, can no more be stopped, than can the constant come and go of the seasons.  The freedom of every human being is not a "privilege," but a right, and that which is right will BE in spite of everything.  It is hard to overcome ignorance and prejudice, but most nobly have the women of Washington won this last battle against these two forces ... . The great work done by this journal, Votes for Women, was not lost, though it was a labor of love. This paper is the only one wholly devoted to the cause of Equal Suffrage published on the Pacific Coast.  Its editor, without funds and with a terrible illness in her family, has worked and sacrificed much during the campaign in order to make the paper a success and a living power for the enfranchisement of women.  And certainly Votes For Women truly represented the cause in the Northwest.  It carried the news far and wide, from month to month, and was the banner bearer ... .

Here in Seattle, some day soon, we shall erect two statues -- one to the pioneer woman of 1850 and the other to the pioneer woman of 1910 ... . Men like to say, My father fought at Bunker Hill or Gettysburg.  Soon they will be glad to remember that their mothers or their wives or their sisters fought in Washington in the great battle of November 8, 1910 ... .

Washington women certainly won out by unique methods, mounting one of the most spectacular suffrage campaigns ever yet instituted by any of the states.  It would take much space to describe in detail the methods employed by the women of the state to spread the gospel of equal suffrage.  To interest the voters in our behalf; to get the women interested in the amendment and doing other propaganda work.  Among ideas carried into effect was the bill boarding of the entire state with great suffrage posters, 7x10 feet, reading, “Give our women a square deal by voting for the amendment at the top of the ballot.”  Our motto:  Don’t be afraid to get the cause talked of.

From putting up over the state the posters of Votes for Women, and the effective cartoons on each issue of this journal, to the gaily decorated booths at state and county fairs, and using every pretext to keep in the limelight of the press.  Handing out suffrage literature at many public meetings; the stringing of big yellow VOTES FOR WOMEN banners across busy thoroughfares, appeals on theatre programs, use of curtains in the moving picture theaters, stereopticon shows on the street, big suffrage floats in public parades, traveling and speaking from decorated automobiles, strewing literature on ferry boats, steamers and streetcars, and putting streamers bearing the words VOTES FOR WOMEN on race horses!

Edited and excerpted, Mrs. M. T. B. Hanna, Editor and Proprietor, Votes for Women, Vol. 1, No 11, December 1910.

Brief Biography of Mrs. "Missouri" T. B. Hanna

Mrs. M. T. B. Hanna was Washington Territory’s first newspaper publisher, and an articulate, powerful voice for women’s rights.  Born in 1856, in Arkansas, she married J. C .Hanna, and the couple moved to Spokane in 1882, where Hanna became a prosperous merchant.  Soon widowed, Mrs. Hanna raised her children as a single mother and moved in 1904 to Edmonds to found the Edmonds Review.  In 1909, she founded the suffrage magazine Votes for Women followed by The New Citizen, after Washington women successfully received the franchise.  After 1912, Mrs. Hanna wrote for various periodicals and newspapers, including the Edmonds Review-Tribune.  An active member of the Washington State Press Association, and founder of the Snohomish County Press Association, Mrs. Hanna was dubbed the “mother of journalism” in Washington State.

Edited and Excerpted from:  Lloyd Spencer and Lancaster Pollard, A History of the State of Washington, Vol. 4 (New York:  American Historical Society, 1937), pp 776-777.

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