Evanston women voted with their feet Friday when they came by the hundreds to the “Votes for Women” rally at Frances Willard House commemorating the 100th anniversary of the passage of a partial suffrage act in Illinois.
The highlight of the suffrage rally, which also attracted a few men, was Leslie Goddard, former staff member at the Evanston History Center, impersonating Evanston suffragist Catharine Waugh McCulloch. Mrs. McCulloch (1862-1945) wrote the 1893 bill that finally, after 20 years of intense lobbying, became law in June 1913. Ms. Goddard came in white dress and shoes and a frothy hat bedecked in flowers, bows and ribbons like the one Mrs. McCulloch wore in a 1909 photograph.
The rally was situated in the perfect location, at 1730 Chicago Av. on the porch and front lawn of Willard House, once home of Frances E. Willard (1839-98), both president of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and a leading suffragist.
Only one house and a parking lot away stands the Woman’s Club of Evanston, founded by another Evanstonian and suffrage leader, Elizabeth Boynton Harbert (1843-1925).
Mrs. Harbert was only 21 years old when she gained national attention with her first speech on suffrage, given where she grew up, Crawfordsville, Ind.
The Ridgeville Band played throughout the sunny event with apt choices like the “New Woman March” and Souza march, “The Belle of Chicago.”
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl read Evanston’s proclamation declaring June 14, 2013 “100 years of Women Voting Day.” She was followed by Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin reading a county proclamation and State Rep. Robyn Gabel reading a state proclamation.
Both cited inroads by women holding elected positions. U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky also spoke, noting she had just been “talking to Frances” in Washington’s Statuary Hall where Frances Willard was the first woman honored with a statue.
Friday’s rally was organized by the League of Women Voters with its partners: the City of Evanston, Evanston History Center, Frances Willard Historical Association, Woman’s Club of Evanston and YWCA Evanston/North Shore.