Neuman, Johanna. And Yet They Persisted: How American Women Won the Right to Vote. Wiley-Blackwell, December 5, 2019.

To celebrate the centennial of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, Johanna Neuman published her book And Yet They Persisted : How American Women vote the Right to Vote, Wiley-Blackwell, 2019. The book retraces the women’s suffrage in the US movement from 1776 up to 1965.

The book’s cover, available on https://www.johannaneuman.com/book/how-american-women-won-the-right-to-vote/

Johanna Neuman is an author, a journalist and an historian who is usually works on the woman suffrage in the United-States. She received a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, served as president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, and currently holds the title of Scholar in Residence, History Department, American University. Among her writings, her well acclaimed book Gilded Suffragists: The New York Socialites Who Fought for Women’s Right to Vote was published in 2017.

Photograph shows the author Johanna Neuman with the cover of her 2017’s book Gilded Suffragists: The New York Socialites Who Fought for Women’s Right to Vote. Source : www.suffrageandthemedia.org/source/interview-johanna-neuman-gilded-suffragists/.

In the preview of her book, Johanna Neuman points out the idea that most historians begin the story of the women’s suffrage movement in 1848, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton stood in public to demand the right to vote at a women’s right convention in Seneca Falls in New York City this is actually not true. Lisa Tetrault’s book on the myth of Seneca Falls has changed this interpretation. Johanna Neuman shows that most historians end the story of the suffrage movement in 1920, when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment. 

Johanna Neuman carefully expands our understanding of that history. She exposes how women have fought to have voting rights for two centuries, from the very beginning of the US independence -when women used revolutionary fervor to ask for their rights- to the 1965 Voting Rights Act -when African-American women in the South had to fight Jim Crow laws to win the right to vote.

photograph was taken in Washington D.C. in 1964, it shows from left to right: Fannie Lou Hamer, Victoria Jackson Gray, and Annie Devine. Those women are all Civil Rights Activists and members of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. They became the first black women to speak before the United States House of Representatives. Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/31/magazine/31gray.t.html

In her exploration of women’s rights, Johanna Neuman explains several tactics used by suffragists to gain equal citizenship. For example, in the 1830s women launched petition drives, attended suffrage conventions in the 1850s, and strategized to win victories in the states beginning in the 1870s and lobbied Congress in the 1910s to enact the Nineteenth Amendment. 

Photograph showing suffragists parading down Pennsylvania avenue in Washington, DC, 1913. Records of the U.S. Information Agency, Record Group 306; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/marching-suffrage-parade-dc

To promote her book, Johanna Neuman shows how women convinced lawmakers it was in their political interests to enfranchised women, that it would not emasculate men or harm the family. Women’s persistence on that matter enabled them to attend college, to get the right to have property, to stand as equals in marriage, child education and inheritance. What Neuman wants to highlight is that the determination of those women, throughout history, enable today’s women to have basic privileges that were once, out of their reach. 


Bibliography : 

In order to write this billet, I used the different articles found on Johanna Neuman’s Blog : “Women’s Suffrage – Johanna Neuman – Historian & Journalist.” Johanna Neuman, www.johannaneuman.com/.

Neuman, Johanna. “Johanna Neuman Biography: Award-Winning Women’s Suffrage Historian.” Johanna Neuman, www.johannaneuman.com/johanna-neuman-bio/.


Merrine Vanhille


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