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Beyond the Laundry: Women Changing the World

In 1909 the Washington State Legislature voted to put women's suffrage on the ballot. Washington's male voters passed the measure in 1910, making Washington the 5th state in the Union to acknowledge women's right to vote.

Women were not given the vote; they earned it. Across the state, professional women and middle-class club ladies joined with women from unions and granges, working for years to win over male voters. They gave speeches, put up posters, dropped flyers out of biplanes, and delivered “Votes for Women” pies to Old Soldiers’ Homes.

Our corner of Seattle did not produce any prominent leaders in the suffrage movement. But the women of Rainier Valley have been active in public life in many ways- from the Rainier Beach Women's Club, which founded the first kindergarten in Seattle in 1910, to Denise Gloster who organized the first March for Youth to protest youth violence in 2008. Marion Southard Weiss used her social work training with the Seattle Housing Authority among other worthy causes. Ruby Chow defied stereotypes to emerge as a leader in the Chinese community and beyond. And Dawn Mason has worked tirelessly on behalf of women, people of color and other marginalized members of the community.


This exhibit was created in 2009 in conjunction with the Washington State History Society's Exhibit, "Women's Votes, Women's Voices". Rainier Valley Historical Society celebrates Rainier Valley's many women leaders and their varied avenues of public life and commitment to improving their communities and beyond.

Explore other articles in this exhibit:

  • Working for Change without the Vote

  • Mothers Club Leads the Way

  • Marion Southard West


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