Around 4,500 women’s suffrage-themed postcards were produced in the US and UK between 1890 and 1915, a time that also just so happened to coincide with the golden age of collectible postcards. At the height of their popularity, postcards with both pro- and anti-women’s suffrage themes were considered a valuable part of collections held in special albums “no ‘drawing room table’ was complete without.”
Some of these postcards were basically just historical feminist cartoons you could send through the mail, but others acted as “proto-memes” akin to political posts common today on social media. The majority of these cards, unfortunately, were on the wrong side of history, depicting, for example, husbands emasculated by suffrage, forced to take care of the domestic sphere while their rowdy suffragette wives were out fighting for the vote.
A few of these suffragette postcards are hard to decipher with modern sensibilities, including some bizarrely contemporary-seeming ones featuring cats (I CAN HAZ THE VOTE?). While they might appear to be light-hearted suffrage propaganda, they were actually intended to send a subtle message about the fitness of the women voting. Tricky! The list below notes when the cartoons are meant to be pro-, anti-, or otherwise, to avoid any confusion. Enjoy!