Katherine Milhous (1894-1977), an American artist, award-winning illustrator, writer, and women’s suffrage advocate, designed this postcard, which was produced and copyrighted in 1915, when she was just 21 years old. It highlighted the hypocrisy of opposition to voting rights for women, and illustrated the struggle young women faced in a world that offered few professional opportunities.

Those opposed to women’s suffrage claimed that participating in politics would expose women to the sort of immorality and corruption from which they were usually shielded in their traditional role as housewives. This postcard, distributed by the Pennsylvania Limited Equal Suffrage League of Philadelphia, pointed out that earning a living as factory workers, nurses, or domestic servants did not “unsex” women, and neither would voting.

Katherine’s early struggles, and her later success as a graphic artist, were advanced by the many other women advocates for suffrage around the world.  In fact, a copy of this postcard was used by two members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in Pennsylvania — Katherine’s home state — to communicate their success in organizing the town of Yardley to the suffrage cause.

This image serves to remind us to honor those women who came and fought before us, to never stop fighting for full equality, and to exercise our right to vote.

Source: Brown University at John Hay Library