Historical Perspective: Suffragists Served Time for the Right to Vote

Women’s rights activist Lucy Burns sits in the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia. Burns, of New York City, worked with Alice Paul to establish the first permanent headquarters for women’s suffrage work in Washington, D.C. She served more time in jail than any other suffragist in America for organizing and picketing at protests. She was arrested and sentenced on the following occasions: June 1917, sentenced to three days; September 1917, 60 days; Nov. 10, 1917, six months; and January 1919, three-day and five-day sentences. She served four prison terms in England, as well. 

Burns was a speaker for the “Prison Special” tour, during which suffragists traveled the country to share their experiences as political prisoners. Three months after the tour concluded in March 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment. It was officially ratified in August 1920, granting all American women the right to vote. (Photo via Library of Congress)

Source: Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom: American Women Win the Vote, 1920