Illinois Women Gain (Partial) Suffrage

Suffrage suit

Two piece brown “suffragette suit” with a raised diagonal stripe pattern. The long skirt has three buttons at the bottom back. 1912. MCHS object 2005-305-0036-FIC. Can you spot the “suffragette suit” in any of the other pictures in this online exhibition?

In 1913, the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association moved its headquarters from Chicago to the state’s center of government in Springfield, to better lobby legislators for equal suffrage. The strategy worked: in June 1913 the Illinois legislature passed the Magill Bill (Senate bill 63) granting women partial suffrage.

Women in Illinois could now vote for all of the positions proposed back in 1909 (presidential electors, state board of equalization members, appellate court clerk, county collector, county surveyor, board of assessors members, board of review members, and all city officers) – except city police magistrates. They could also vote on county and municipal propositions, but not for county treasurer.

Women were barred by the Illinois constitution from voting for governor, state legislators, and United States senators and representatives.

Illinois women voted in their first election on November 7, 1916. Separate ballot boxes were provided for men and women.