Front Pages, Front Lines

Media and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage

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Chapter summaries and short videos with all the authors here. 


The press, women, and the long road to the Nineteenth Amendment

Suffragists recognized that the media played an essential role in the women’s suffrage movement and the public’s understanding of it. From parades to going to jail for voting, activists played to the mass media of their day. They also created an energetic niche media of suffragist journalism and publications.

This collection offers new research on media issues related to the women’s suffrage movement. Contributors incorporate innovative approaches to social movement, media theory, and historiography while discussing the vexed relationship between the media and debates over suffrage. Aiming to correct past oversights, the editors curate essays on overlooked topics like the participation of African American and Mormon-oriented media, coverage of black women in the movement, suffrage-related historiography, suffragist rhetorical strategies, elites within the movement, suffrage as part of broader campaigns for social transformation, and how views of white masculinity influenced press coverage.


Maurine H. BeasleySherilyn Cox BennionJinx C. BroussardTeri FinnemanKathy Roberts FordeLinda M. GrassoCarolyn Kitch, Brooke Kroeger, Linda J. LumsdenJane MarcellusJane RhodesLinda Steiner, and Robin Sundaramoorthy


Linda Steiner is a professor at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism and a coauthor of Women and JournalismCarolyn Kitch is a professor of journalism and media & communication at Temple University and the author of Pennsylvania in Public Memory: Reclaiming the Industrial PastBrooke Kroeger is a professor of journalism at New York University and the author of The Suffragents: How Women Used Men to Get the Vote.



Video Interviews with the Authors of Front Pages, Front Lines: Media and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage

Links to all video shorts for the chapters of Front Pages Front Lines are below. Read more about the book here.

“Lumsden offers a comprehensive historiography of suffrage and the media that highlights the near one-dimensionality of much of the early scholarship. She analyzes what historians, journalism studies researchers, and sociologists have found—and what they have ignored—beginning in the 1970s, when feminist scholars began to look back at both suffrage editors and mainstream news media coverage of the campaign.”

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“Steiner argues that the suffrage and women’s rights papers of the nineteenth century created and experimented with very different versions of the new woman, and then dramatized and celebrated these identities.”

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“Bennion shows how the prosuffrage arguments of the Women’s Exponent, published for Mormon women, were reformulated in response to regional political shifts, using various rationales to counter attempts to disenfranchise polygamous women.”

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“Broussard addresses black women journalists and coverage of black women’s positions on suffrage, looking at both the suffrage activities of black women journalists and the black press coverage of black women’s participation in the movement, which was controversial in black communities across the country.”

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“Rhodes examines the positions of black periodicals attached to socialism or the Communist Party, as well as black nationalist papers, regarding suffrage and black women’s suffrage activism. She focuses on the post–World War I era, when black periodicals conveyed the anxiety and grievances about a widespread backlash against black American soldiers, urban antiblack violence, and lynching.”

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“Grasso compares the approaches to women’s suffrage adopted by the NAACP’s The Crisis, under W.E.B. Du Bois, and The Masses, edited by Max Eastman and primarily serving white readers. Both magazines vigorously supported women’s suffrage, but Grasso analyzes their ‘differently radical’ approaches.”

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“Finneman draws on US news coverage to examine the rhetorical strategies of the anti-suffragists in representing themselves and their adversaries in 1917, when they began to lose significant ground with journalists as the progressive arguments of the suffragists gained more traction with journalists.”

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“Marcellus offers a close reading of the Nashville press as the country watched to see if Tennessee would become the final state to ratify the 19th amendment. She contends that for both the Nashville Tennessean and the Nashville Bannert, competing views of Southern white masculinity were at stake.”

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“Kroeger shows the importance and influence, especially during the suffrage movement’s final decade, of high society women and men who enjoyed elite status as socialites, businessmen and professionals, especially as editors and publishers of important newspapers and magazines, and how suffrage leaders cultivated these recruits and the useful resources they brought.”

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“Beasley examines how suffrage organizations and their new outlets shifted their policies, positions, and philosophies in the 1920s, analyzing the after-enfranchisement efforts of suffrage activists to decide whether to enter the existing male power structure or concentrate on women’s advancement outside of it.”

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“Kitch analyzes how cover stories in TimeLife, and Newsweek, in the context of reporting on the so-called second wave of the women’s movement, both remembered and forgot the women’s suffrage movement and alternated between or combined celebration and dismissal of feminism, using suffrage memory at both ends.”

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“Forde’s Afterword returns to white southern suffragists’ ‘unholy alliance’ with white supremacy, including through the support of the leading suffragist periodical in the South. Indeed, she points out that in the early twentieth century, the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) capitulated to southern prejudice, for example, by acknowledging the right of southern chapters to exclude black women from membership.”

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REVIEW: Front Pages Front Lines, Indiana Magazine of History 118:1:63-66

Indiana Magazine of History-Steiner, Kitch, Kroeger-Front Pages, Front Lines

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EVENT, VIDEO: “Front Pages, Front Lines” Presentation to the Commission on the Status of Women, AEJMC, November 19, 2020

  Authors of the book, Front Pages Front Lines: Media and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage made brief presentations of their respective chapters at a Zoom session of the AEJMC’s Commission […]

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REVIEW: East Hampton Star: An Unfinished Quest: Review of “Front Pages, Front Lines”

"Front Pages, Front LInes" is a compendium of essays about the relationship between journalism and the women's suffrage movement, but it is more than that."

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REVIEW: The Daily Cartoonist: “CSotD: Assess this Pal”

[Front Pages, Front Lines] "It’s a topic that interests me greatly and I know the quality of her work, so I went to the publisher’s site to get a copy and, holy guacamole, I think I’ll be okay with the paperback edition, though I suspect this type of historical writing is still good after a decade."

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“Front Pages, Front Lines: Media and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage”

“The centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment encourages a fresh rethinking of the history of the women’s suffrage movement, to which this volume is a welcome addition. Special kudos for its […]

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The centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment encourages a fresh rethinking of the history of the women’s suffrage movement, to which this volume is a welcome addition. Special kudos for its sustained attention to racial and regional diversity, as well as its broad chronological sweep.

– Susan Ware
Author of Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote