Suffrage – Geneva

Geneva Political Equality Club (1897-1918)

Open to men and women, the Geneva Political Equality Club was a forum to discuss local and public questions, and educate people about women’s rights.

Club Activities

  • Monthly meetings held from November to April – committee reports, music, and a featured speaker. Afternoon meetings were added in the mid-1900s.
  • Piazza Party Annual – For several years, Elizabeth and Anne Miller hosted an annual party on the piazza at their Lochland home (now part of the Lochland School) as a fundraiser for the club. The parties featured music and a well-known speaker
  • Speakers brought to Geneva on behalf of the Club:
    • Susan B. Anthony (1899)
    • Alice Stone Blackwell (1905)
    • Harriot Stanton Blatch (several times)
    • Carrie Chapman Catt (1903)
    • Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1902 and 1903)
    • Florence Kelly (1904 and 1910)
    • Emmeline Pankhurst (1909)
    • Sylvia Pankhurst (1911)
  • Elizabeth Smith Miller Study Club (1907-1910) – a club for students 16 years old and older to “study noble lives in a pleasant and informal way.”
  • Miller prize – annual essay contest for high school juniors and seniors in Geneva, Phelps and Gorham
  • Standing Committees (1897-1910) – Industrial, School Suffrage, Press, Work Among Young People, Distribution of Literature, Enrollment and Peace.
  • In 1910 afternoon meetings stopped, the study club was disbanded, and the industrial and peace committees were discontinued. The sole focus of the Club became suffrage and more modern advocacy methods were adopted (open air meetings, marching in parades, house to house canvassing and a wider distribution of literature).
  • The Club spawned at least 4 other clubs: Phelps – 1898, Clifton Springs – 1905, Gorham – 1913, William Smith College– 1914
  • With Phelps PEC, the Club formed the Ontario County Political Equality Club in 1902
  • Became the largest club in New York State

Individual Women

Many Geneva women were active in the suffrage movement. Unfortunately, for a vast majority only their names will be known. Biographies where created for the following women:

Elizabeth Smith Miller and Anne Fitzhugh Miller

  • Elizabeth Smith 1822-1911, Anne Fitzhugh 1856-1912
  • The Millers were active in the political arena as a mother-daughter team.
  • Their connections within the women’s rights movement brought the NYSWSA conventions, and national and international speakers to Geneva
  • With other community members, the Millers established the Geneva Political Equality Club in 1897
  • Elizabeth served as Honorary President of the Club until her death in 1911 and Anne was president from 1898 to 1911.

Rhoda Palmer

  • 1816-1919
  • Though she never officially joined the Quakers Palmer regularly attended the Junius Monthly Meeting. It’s through her Quaker ties that she learned about the women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls being held in July 1848. Palmer and her father were among the over 300 people who attended the convention and Palmer was one of the signers of the Declaration of Sentiments.
  • At the age of 102 Palmer voted for the first time in 1918

New York State Woman Suffrage Association Conventions Held in Geneva

  • 29th Annual Convention (Nov. 3-6, 1897)
  • Held at Collins Music Hall (Nov. 3) and Smith Opera House (Nov. 4-6)
  • Featured speakers Susan B. Anthony and Anna Howard Shaw
  • The convention led to the formation of the Geneva Political Equality Club
  • Held at the First Baptist Church
  • Featured speakers – Harriot Stanton Blatch, Rose Schneidmann, and Anna Howard Shaw

Geneva Daily Times 1915 – Suffrage Edition