Women’s Suffrage in Film

Explore the many films about suffragists in the United States, Great Britain, and elsewhere in this list which we will add to and refine as the year progresses:

  • Suffragettes in the Silent Cinema  (2003) 
    From the database Women Make Movies, this collection of silent films in early America is available for purchase. A clip is available online. 
  • How Women’s Suffrage Has Been Represented in American Film | JSTOR
    This brief article explains that woman’s suffrage was usually portrayed negatively in early films, but suffragists “well recognized the importance of movies in getting their message out.”
  • The Divine Order  (2017)
    Referred to on Rotten Tomatoes as a “crowd-pleasing film,” this movie about the Swiss women’s suffrage movement, explains why women in Switzerland still did not have the right to vote as late as 1970.  Religious leaders cited the Divine order as the reason.  
  • Not For Ourselves Alone | Home | Ken Burns  (1999)
    This Ken Burns television film tells the story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony, including the powerful friendship between the women. Note: This film is an excellent way to learn about the beginnings of the suffrage movement in the US.  If you’ve not yet read The Woman’s Hour by Elaine Weiss, consider viewing this film first.
  • Suffragette (2015)
    “The first feature film to tell the story of the ordinary British women at the turn of the last century who risked everything in the fight for equality and the right to vote,
  • Iron Jawed Angels (TV Movie 2004) – IMDb
     HBO original movie tells the story of Alice Paul, who founded the National Woman’s Party, the radical arm of the suffrage movement. Paul and social reformer Lucy Burns worked together to pass the 19th amendment.
  • The best Women’s Suffrage Films recommended by British Films International (BFI)
    In Britain, women over 30 gained the right to vote inn 1918. This list contains an eye-popping collection of films. Of particular interest is “Mass Meeting of Suffragists,” which shows a massive, well-organized rally of “suffragists,” the term used in Britain before the rejection of the suffrage bill in 1913. Most films in this list can be viewed online.
  • Social Welfare History Project Your Girl and Mine (suffrage film) (1915)
    This article explains that Your Girl and Mine was the first large-scale suffrage film. The film,  no longer available, revolved around poverty, child labor, tenement housing, alcohol abuse, and child custody battles.
  • Mothers of Men
    Made two years before the Nineteenth Amendment granted women the right to vote, this melodrama depicts a future in which a woman holds high political office. Dorothy Davenport Reid plays an ardent suffragist who ascends from judge to governor and manages, despite the odds, to maintain her integrity. Filmed entirely in Santa Cruz and the Bay Area, the film is early evidence of Northern California’s progressive roots. “Its timeliness will strike home,” proclaimed the Motion Picture News in 1917.
  • Women’s Suffrage and the Movie People | Silent Film Festival
    In Parts One and Two (A & B) of this series, blogposts looked at movie depictions of the woman-suffrage movement, and how the suffragists themselves used films to spread their message. But what did movie-industry people think of the political issues they were exploring onscreen? Modern biographies of silent-film personalities rarely discuss the suffrage question, but during the 1910s, fan-magazines often addressed it, mainly when interviewing female stars.
  • Films Media Group – Amendment 19: Women’s Right to Vote
    Three DVDs telling about the passage of the 19th amendment.
  • Film & Television – Women’s Suffrage in the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Collections – Research Guides at Library of Congress  
    This is a database from the Library of Congress that includes early films only viewable in the Moving Image Resource Center in Washington, DC, and not reformatted for current media.  The link is included here to illustrate the many films that may some day be more widely available.
  • Films about Women’s Rights: