4d – The Postcard


Suffrage-themed, commercially produced postcards abounded during the state and national suffrage campaigns. Some were sold in sets, others as individual pieces that the purchaser could mail with a penny stamp. The five examples here reflected characteristics of the genre. There were satirical put-downs, such as “Uncle Sam Suffragee” and “By Gum!” featuring a stock country bumpkin figure. The “Queen of the Poll” card presented women voters as frivolous and silly. Note the yellow roses on the figure’s enormous hat. The “Suffragette Question” placed a woman in a domestic space cooking up questions about voting. The ostensibly pro-suffrage postcard “Votes for Women” used a drawing by a prolific postcard artist, Bernhardt Wall, for his Sunbonnet series, which featured children like the pink-clad tyke seen here. The wily publisher played both sides by printing anti-suffrage postcards using exactly the same sketch.

Two items from the Nathaniel Puffer Ephemera Collection:

  • “Uncle Sam Suffragee” [postcard]. Suffragette Series No. 6. New York : Dunston-Weiler Lithograph Company, 1909
  • “Queen of the Poll” [postcard]. Suffragette Series No. 9. New York : Dunston-Weiler Lithograph Company, 1909

Three items from Woman Suffrage Collection:

  • Bernhardt Wall (1872-1956). “Votes for Women” (postcard). New York: S. Bergman, 1913.
  • F.R. Morgan. “The Suffragette Question” (postcard), circa 1910
  • “By Gum! Them Suffragettes Be Gittin Everything” (postcard), 1913.

As noted on the verso of the “Think It Over” postcard series, the Cargill Company of Grand Rapids sold and distributed these postcards on a profit-sharing plan with the proceeds benefitting the national treasury of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. NAWSA used postcard sets like these to set forth various arguments in favor of suffrage. Some texts emphasized women’s status as mothers and represented them as more truthful and honest than anti-suffrage “machine politicians.” Other inscriptions made the case for suffrage on the grounds of justice. Like a Facebook post today, a postcard could spread one’s political views to friends and family.

  • National American Woman Suffrage Association. “Think It Over: An Ounce of Persuasion Precedes a Pound of Coercion” (set of 10 postcards from the series). Grand Rapids, Mich. : Cargill Company, 1910. Woman Suffrage Collection.