While the campaign to win for women the right to vote in America was waged on a national scale, this often obscures the fact that the most of battles took place at the state level, where local perspectives were key. Sara Egge
’s book Woman Suffrage and Citizenship in the Midwest, 1870-1920
(University of Iowa Press, 2018) spotlights this by focusing on three counties in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota, charting the development of the campaigns for women’s suffrage there. As Egge explains, though women in the Gilded Age were expected to confine their activities to the private sphere, their involvement in community activities served as the basis for the assertion of their voting rights by signaling their willingness to assume the basic responsibilities of citizenship. By participating in local organizations and temperance campaigning women claimed a space in the public sphere, one upon which their successive efforts to win the suffrage in those states were built. This assertion of citizenship proved vital to the eventual success of the movement once the United States entered the First World War in 1917, as this civic activism served as a demonstration of loyalty proving that women deserved to exercise the right to vote.