New Zealand and the Female Vote

women voteSeptember 19, 1893 is a day of note, on this date New Zealand, off the southeast coast of Australia, became the first self-governing country to grant women the right to vote.

In the United States back in 1869, the Territory of Wyoming did grant women in the territory the right to vote. In the Isle of Man, off the coast between Ireland and the United Kingdom, in 1889, they enfranchised women property owners which was a step for women’s suffrage. In the South Pacific in 1889, the self-governing colony of Franceville (later to become Port Vila), declared universal rights for all people, male and female.

So this was a major step for New Zealand, a populated nation of about a total of 800,000 people granting women the right to vote. True, they couldn’t run for an elected office, but that was quickly amended.

women-protestIt would not be until about 1920 (26 years after New Zealand) before women in the United States and Great Britain would be able to register to vote.

An interesting project would be to see when any of your female ancestors who were over the age of 21 in 1920 registered to vote in their hometown. If an ancestor lived in the western states, many of them had already granted women the right to vote before 1920. Many of the supervisors of elections in local counties and towns will have those registration records. Contact the supervisor in your family’s hometown and see what is available. Provide them with the full names for any female ancestors, their birth date and where they lived in the county. Some of those early registrations can have a good deal of information on an individual.  women-1900

Photos: New Zealand – Women working for the right to vote and in early 1900s those states in USA who had granted women the right to vote.

Related genealogy blogs:

Female Ancestors Mistreated

Locating a Female’s Maiden Name

Finding Your Female Ancestors


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