My maternal grandmother was 31 before she could vote. My paternal grandmother was 24. Their mothers and all my other female ancestors were never entitled to vote. When could women vote in your family? How old were your female ancestors before they could cast their first vote? Were they suffragists?

When Could Women Vote in Your FamilyIn the United States, the answer is somewhat complex. The Library of Congress offers a comprehensive timeline beginning in 1776. Women’s suffrage was debated and a platform adopted at the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York in 1846.

A constitutional amendment granting women the vote was first introduced in Congress in 1878; it was ratified 41 years later as the Nineteenth Amendment.

During those long decades, a concerted effort was made by individuals, organizations, and leading suffragists via petitions, protests, rallies, parades, and demonstrations. Opposition was persistent, predictable, and vehement. As in England, arrests, imprisonment, and forced feedings were endured by some suffragists.

In addition to the drive for a constitutional amendment, a parallel effort was made by suffragists in state-by-state campaigns, as the 1915 image from Puck magazine above illustrates. The territory of Wyoming was the first to give women the vote in 1869. Other western states and territories followed.

States granting women the right to vote prior to the 19th Amendment:When Could Women Vote in Your Family

  • Wyoming 1890
  • Colorado 1893
  • Utah 1896
  • Idaho 1896
  • Washington 1910
  • California 1911
  • Arizona 1912
  • Kansas 1912
  • Oregon 1912
  • Montana 1914
  • Nevada 1914
  • New York 1917
  • Michigan 1918
  • Oklahoma 1918
  • South Dakota 1918

When Could Women Vote in Your FamilyFull voting rights for women before 19th Amendment and before statehood:

  • Territory of Wyoming 1869
  • Territory of Utah 1870
  • Territory of Washington 1883
  • Territory of Montana 1887
  • Territory of Alaska 1913

Women could vote only for President prior to the 19th Amendment:

  • Illinois 1913
  • Nebraska 1917
  • When Could Women Vote in Your FamilyOhio 1917
  • Indiana 1917
  • North Dakota 1917
  • Rhode Island 1917
  • Iowa 1919
  • Maine 1919
  • Minnesota 1919
  • Missouri 1919
  • Tennessee 1919
  • Wisconsin 1919

Gained Voting Rights after the passage:

  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • Massachusetts
  • Connecticut
  • Pennsylvania
    When Could Women Vote in Your Family

    Women line up to vote in Minnesota, 1920

  • New Jersey
  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • West Virginia
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Georgia
  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Mississippi
  • Louisiana
  • Arkansas
  • Texas
  • New Mexico
  • Kentucky

With the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, more than 8 million women across the U.S. voted in elections for the first time. It took over 60 years for all states to ratify the 19th Amendment. Mississippi was the last to do so, on March 22, 1984.

Of course, all of us have female ancestors from countries outside the U.S. When could women vote in your family who were born in other countries? Stay tuned for an upcoming post about women’s suffrage outside the U.S.

For more inspiration, watch this before you cast that hard-won ballot: