Final Project

May 2, 2023- by Bella Castillo

For my digital history final, I chose to research women’s voting rights, closely following the American Revolution. This period is considered the early American Republic. Before this time, women were not able to vote. Changes for women’s voting rights took a turn in favor of women in New Jersey. New Jersey was the first and only state to legally enfranchise women on February 22, 1797. The state legislature took steps to reform the New Jersey election law and included the words “he or she”. This meant that women who were “propertied” in other words owners of any property reserved the right to vote. This completely changed the voting narrative throughout the state. Voting was one of the many national and international parts of the women’s rights movement. This movement began with Revolutionary ideology. This topic is important to history as a whole because women’s rights particularly in the voting realm went through many hardships and faced many changes over time. Women to this day are still fighting for more rights and it began so long ago.  

Digital tools and methods have shaped my learning on this subject in a multitude of ways. One of the main tools I used was a timeline. These digital tools allowed me to see the data of women who voted and the chronological order of events that shaped women’s rights. Seeing things in a timeline fashion allows you to see how one event helped the development of events to follow. Another significant digital tool I used was a dataset collection. I used this to visualize the number of women who voted in each poll location. All of the digital tools I used allowed for visualizations of my subject and made my digital project come together. Digital features allow readers to not just learn about women’s voting rights but also see the progression and steps visually taken by women activists. Without visualizations I do not think readers would be as engaged, I feel when I am exploring a topic and they offer digital visualizations or interactive features, I find it far more interesting. 

Figure 1

Figure 1 is a timeline from Timeline JIS, it allows you to interactively go through significant events that I chose. I chose to include things such as the first instances of women voting and other significant events to women’s voting rights. 

As highlighted on the timeline, it all began on October 30, 1756, before any action was taken in New Jersey. A woman by the name of Lydia Chapin Taft voted in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. She is documented as the first women American voter. Next on the timeline, the first documented polling took place in December 1800 in Upper Penns Neck Township, Salem County, New Jersey. Each year women returned to this specific voting location. A major event I felt I also needed to feature is the end of the women’s voting in New Jersey. In November of 1807, the New Jersey constitution was rewritten stripping women from their voting rights. This began a whole new movement that was fought into the late 1920s to finally pass the 19th Amendment allowing women to vote.  

Figure 2

In Figure 2, there is a dataset created of the first polling location where women voted in New Jersey. Dataset creations are a great digital feature that shares data in a very transparent way. They also allow the ability to show the data in different ways and many frequencies.

In this figure, I displayed the poll results of voting in Upper Penns Neck Township, Salem County New Jersey county. The reason I chose to show this is because I feel it is important to note how many women participated in voting when given the opportunity, and how many women’s lives were affected by this. Since this topic narrows in on such a specific time during history, it is important to closely analyze things such as the poll results. New Jersey only made a brief change for women before shortly returning things to old ways. Rights movements for many people always started somewhere even if set back at times. By choosing this as my data, I learned a lot more than just the names and count of women who voted. I got to learn their stories and how some of them were activists for this cause. Some women went in groups with each other to vote, this shows their support and passion for their voting rights as they stand beside each other.

Figure 3

In Figure 3, I expanded on the data I collected for Figure 2. The media I used was Tableau, which allows you to create visualizations in many different forms. I chose to create a bar graph because as a learner myself, bar graphs are easy to analyze and understand data from.

Figure 3 allowed me to further expand on the data, so I decided to add more voting locations. Instead of focusing on one location, I decided to study the eight known voting locations and their statistics over the years. Some polling locations were more popular than others or became a bigger hotspot for women’s voting over time. I would argue that the numbers over time did not face very much change. The New Jersey election law stated only women who owned property were able to vote so the number of women eligible most likely did not face very much change. As you can see the repetition of certain townships or counties permits analytical thinking in the voting trends. For example, year after year women voted in Upper Penns Neck Township, yet the number remained the same. I would argue this is because additional women are not purchasing property each year. When I look at this graph, the statistical trends observed over time exhibited a degree of stability. 

Figure 4

In Figure 4, I used an ArcGIS map to display the different locations that people voted in throughout New Jersey. I chose the four most popular locations and displayed them with a red and blue star, as I felt it was fitting for the theme.

It is important to see where each voting location is on a map as it exhibits the home of many monumental moments in history for women’s voting rights. As you can see, this specific point focuses on Bedminster County, 118 women voted here. This interactive map allows viewers to zoom in and out, as well as click on each polling location and see the specifics. I also featured a petition point, this is where Harriet Lafetra led Monmouth County residents in petitioning the state legislature on behalf of women’s rights and women’s suffrage. Women like Harriet are important and featuring her in a digital feature such as a map allows viewers to see where she made change. Since she petitioned in Monmouth County, you can also follow your exploration by clicking on Monmouth and seeing how many women were able to vote there after her movement. 

In conclusion, the journey through women’s voting rights, specifically following the American Revolution is a pivotal chapter in history. It reflects the intersection of new ideologies, strong-willed women, and the evolving landscape of democracy. The case of New Jersey stood out to me as an important piece of time to study, as the inclusion of “he or she” in election laws extended the franchise to women who owned property. This was a milestone for women’s rights. Digital tools like timelines, datasets, and interactive maps greatly aided my understanding of this journey, offering clear insights into the evolution of activism and the impact of legislative changes. The significance of these digital features lies not only in their ability to convey information but also in their capacity to create a deeper connection with the material. Visual representations allow one to grasp information, analyze trends, and acknowledge significant figures of contribution. This topic includes Lydia Chapin Taft and Harriet Lafetra, who championed many causes of women’s suffrage. The graph is and has been the simplest way to show data, allowing viewers to see trends within New Jersey’s polls. The timelines showed the importance of each change made to women’s rights. Within the women”s suffrage movement, each step leads to a bigger change and this is visible on the timeline. On the other hand, the dataset creation allows for a simple view of data, keeping things simple and allowing us to see different variables. Lastly, the map is one of the few ways to visualize location, seeing the different locations on a map enables thinking of how location affects a subject. in this case, how omen got to voting locations if they lived far away or how different movements in certain areas affected polling. Thus, the significance of digital features is mere convenience; it becomes a vital source for preserving, understanding, and analyzing the movement of women’s rights.

Citations:

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. “First Generation: America’s Women Voters, 1776-1807.” History Resources. Accessed January 1, 2024. https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-resources/essays/first-generation-americas-women-voters-1776-1807.

National Park Service. “Voting Rights in New Jersey Before the 15th and 19th Amendments.” Accessed January 1, 2024. https://www.nps.gov/articles/voting-rights-in-nj-before-the-15th-and-19th.htm.

New England Historical Society. “Lydia Chapin Taft, New England’s First Woman Voter.” Accessed January 1, 2024. https://newenglandhistoricalsociety.com/lydia-chapin-taft-new-englands-first-woman-voter/.

Philadelphia Encyclopedia. “Salem City, New Jersey.” Accessed January 1, 2024. https://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/essays/salem-city-new-jersey/.

The Museum of the American Revolution. “When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story.”


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