This year marks the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which Rhode Island ratified on January 6, 1920. Newporter Maud Howe Elliott (1854-1948) gave support to the Rhode Island branch of the movement and helped form the Women’s Suffrage Association of Newport County. Locally she campaigned for Rhode Island legislation to legalize women’s right to vote, and helped to manage membership, accounting, and selection of key personnel in the association itself. She also traveled around the country, participating in lecture circuits to help build interest in fledgling suffragist societies.
Maud Howe Elliott was a social and political activist, Pulitzer prize-winning author, and founder of the Newport Art Association. She was the daughter of social activists Julia Ward Howe and Samuel Gridley Howe whose activism was instrumental in shaping Elliott’s life as she went on to influence society and politics in Rhode Island and America at-large.
Elliott was also involved in the formation and development of the Rhode Island Progressive Party. The Progressive Party was founded by Theodore Roosevelt after he lost the Republican nomination in 1912. The party’s platform included tighter federal regulations on industry and programs to benefit the poor and working class. Additionally, the Progressive Party supported enfranchising women, which encouraged many suffragists to join the party.
The Newport Historical Society holds a collection of Maud Howe Elliott’s papers that largely concern her involvement in the women’s suffrage movement and Progressive Party. Access a finding aid here: https://collections.newporthistory.org/Detail/collections/321