Major Department



College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2018

Honors Major Advisor

Alyssa Park

Thesis Mentor

Landon Storrs


For many Iowa women, partial suffrage became an apt way to circumvent both the political and societal attitudes that hindered the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association's larger attempts to establish full enfranchisement in the 19th century. During a time when the Iowa Legislature had continuously rebuffed bills aimed at equal suffrage, partial was a feasible win. And by limiting the scope of female voting to school, bond, and tax issues, partial suffrage could be marketed as a safe option to those who opposed the involvement of women in politics. School and municipal suffrage also existed as an important trial run in the movement towards full enfranchisement, and illustrated the capability of women voters in the state. many women were perceived as being indifferent to the suffrage cause, school and municipal suffrage demonstrated that Iowa women did want the ballot, and would exercise their voting rights with enthusiasm and care. Additionally, partial suffrage successfully navigated Victorian gender norms in a way that dismantled many popular anti-suffragist arguments. In framing school and municipal issues as an extension of the domestic realm, partial suffrage was able to appeal to women who had been apathetic towards the question of suffrage or favored indirect influence. Reports on municipal and school issues helped change the perception of suffrage in the state, illustrating the domesticity, morality, and reliability of female voters. Being able to vote in school and municipal issues gave many Iowa women a desire for expanded voting rights and brought a new generation of suffragists into the larger fight for full and equal suffrage rights.


partial suffrage, iowa women's suffrage

Total Pages

36 pages


Copyright © 2018 Katherine Boyd