EVERETT — Women fighting for the right to vote hung a large banner across Hewitt Avenue more than a century ago, to remind men what to look for on the ballot.
“Vote for Amendment, Article VI: It Means Votes for Women,” it read.
It was placed by the Everett Suffrage Club, near its offices in the Commerce Building along that street.
Those who lived in Everett likely had a large role in winning the vote for women in Washington state in 1910. Since then, Everett has elected the first woman to the mayor’s office. Others have carried on national organizations that started during the movement, and have began local chapters.
The League of Women Voters was created on Feb. 14, 1920. The Snohomish County chapter celebrates that date each year, and is hosting a luncheon next month for women mayors. It’s the last annual party before the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States, enacted Aug. 18, 1920.
The founders didn’t associate with one party or endorse candidates. Instead they supported causes that aligned with their morals, said Karen Madsen, the local group’s president.
“From the get-go they were women who were looking for ways to make our country a better place,” she said. “Some of those ideas end up being called progressive or liberal. We think of them as ideas to help enhance democracy.”
The local chapter focuses on education and getting people to vote. They go to high schools and spend National Voter Registration Day in libraries, said Pat Fogarty-Cramer, the chapter’s past president.
“We have folks out in almost every library in the county that day,” she said.
Fogarty-Cramer believes the chapter started in 1957. There are now about 170 members and anyone older than 16 can join.
The group doesn’t talk about Democrats or Republicans. While there can be disagreements, the women haven’t seen people get angry.
“Just check your party credentials at the door,” Fogarty-Cramer said.
President-elect Vicki Roberts-Gassler is in charge of the centennial celebration.
“We’re still in the planning stages, but we’re hoping to make a splash,” she said.
They might join the Edmonds Fourth of July parade and wear all white, the color suffragists wore to campaign.
Mayor Cassie Franklin, of Everett, plans to attend the luncheon in a couple of weeks. Franklin was elected in 2017.
She didn’t see many women in leadership roles growing up, she said. She’s happy that’s changing, so her daughter and other young women have positive role models.
More women also have been represented in politics lately — this year a record number of women were sworn into Congress.
“It’s amazing to see that kind of progress — but when you consider that women make up more than half of the population, it’s clear we still have a ways to go,” Franklin said.
Women’s suffrage started in 1910 in Washington state. Snohomish County likely had a large part in that, historian Margaret Riddle said.
Men in Everett’s labor unions supported the movement. It meant equal pay and safer conditions. Women were hired more often than men, because they were paid less.
Missouri Hanna, of Edmonds, was one of the most prominent suffragists. She moved to the city in 1904, and years later started a newspaper called Votes for Women, the official publication of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association.
“It is argued that, given the ballot, women will cease to care for the home, leave the meals uncooked, the children uncared for,” she once wrote. “As it only takes about two minutes to perform the function of voting none of the above calamities are likely to happen.”
Ella Russell was president of the Everett Suffrage Club. On the evening of July 5, 1910, a woman named Rae Muirhead was speaking to an audience of about 6,500. She told them to deny women’s suffrage.
Russell stood on a bench in front of the crowd and gave her own speech. After, the region became more enthusiastic about the women’s rights, according to news coverage of the time.
Ida Noyes McIntyre was the club’s vice president and a doctor. She had moved to Everett from Colorado, where she had been able to vote. She often spoke publicly about those experiences.
The Everett Suffrage Club headquarters were in the Commerce Building, at 1801 Hewitt Ave. Now people can eat Russian-style dumplings and drink a craft ale on the bottom floor, at The Independent Beer Bar.
Diners might not have had to leave their seats to see the women’s banner hanging above, all those years ago.
The League of Women Voters of Snohomish County hosts a luncheon in honor of women mayors, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on March 2, at the Everett Legion Memorial Golf Club.
Register by Feb. 26 at www.lwvsnoho.org. Tickets are $25.