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Beautiful and Heartbreaking Photos of Women Fighting for the Right to Vote

Beginning in 1917, major demonstrations were held outside the White House, resulting in many arrests and quite a few hecklers in the crowd (not an uncommon sight at a women’s suffrage event). Women who had been imprisoned for exercising their free speech, then had protested further by going on hunger strike, were forced fed by their jailers in what is a sad story that even more than 100 years later still turns the stomach.

Suffragettes about to be arrested outside the White House, 1917. Via/ Library of Congress

Washington, D.C., 1917. Via/ Library of Congress

Picketing outside the White House, 1917. Via/ Library of Congress

Some of the most notorious cases had been sent to Occoquan Prison in 1917. The Occoquan Prison was initially intended to serve as a workhouse and reformatory for minor criminals, but ended up being the center of undeserved violence against the women suffragists.

Lucy Burns was one of those imprisoned at Occoquan Prison. While there she was stripped down and chained to her cell bars overnight. Via/ Library of Congress

Unlike their English counterparts, American suffragists were linked with the Quakers and peaceful protest was the order of the day. Often called the Silent Sentinels, American suffrage marches (or pageants and parades as they were also called) tended to be comparatively quiet and peaceful.

Kate Heffelfinger after her release from Occoquan Prison, ca. 1917. Via/ Library of Congress

Click the “Next Page” button for more suffragists in action!

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