This article originally appeared in the June 1, 1918, issue. An asterisk after the headline referred to this footnote: In view of the fact that political and social conditions in New York are widely different from those prevailing in most States which have for a long period had woman suffrage, the question as to what use women in New York are likely to make of political power has more than local interest. The Nation is accordingly glad to present to its readers the following article, which summarizes briefly the work of the New York State Woman Suffrage Party during the first half-year of political enfranchisement in this State.
At the forty-ninth annual convention of the Suffrage Party, held in New York city just a few days after the great victory of November 6, it was decided that, as an organization, the New York State Woman Suffrage Party should remain a non-partisan group of voters; and that its members should inform themselves of the various problems of government in order to use the new power of citizenship to the greatest advantage of State and nation. It was realized that the fundamental work of the party as such is now to prepare the women of the State for good citizenship. To carry on this work effectively, committees on education, Americanization, legislation, Congressional work, labor, intelligence, rural problems, and war service were established. This article can do little more than touch on a few of the more striking activities.
The vital work of teaching women to use their vote wisely and to keep them from being exploited because of their inexperience is in the hands of the Education Committee. It has held schools for the training of teachers in political, social, and civic subjects; it is organizing groups of women all over the State for the study of citizenship, and is providing them with teachers; it has prepared and sent out correspondence courses in citizenship; and it keeps in circulation travelling libraries of recognized books on civics and government. It has made recommendations which have been accepted by the State Board of Regents: that the course in civics in the elementary schools be revised, that the study of civics in the high schools be made compulsory, and that public school buildings be used as civic centres.
The first training school for teachers of citizenship, held in New York city, was arranged for a period of intensive study covering two weeks in January. Three hundred students attended the sessions with an average attendance of 150 throughout. The lectures were given by experts, and at the close of the series an examination was held, 32 students winning the diploma of teacher of citizenship. Following this course, an extensive movement for the political education of women was inaugurated. In New York city during the month of March alone 312 citizenship classes were held. Women of all groups and classes, irrespective of suffrage affiliation, are continually turning to the suffrage teachers of citizenship to assist them in their first endeavors to gain a working knowledge of civics. There has been a succession of crowded classes at city headquarters. As soon as one series was completed, a new series had to begin, so great was the demand. During the two months before general enrolment day, May 25, all the city party’s teaching forces had to be concentrated on the educational work. One hundred and sixty thousand copies of four printed lessons in citizenship have been distributed to department stores, insurance companies, banks, trust companies, and many other industrial establishments of the city for the use of the women employees. Talks have also been given in these establishments, the employers generously cooperating by permitting the classes to be given in store or company time. In addition to such establishments, classes have also been held in parish houses, community centres, mothers’ meetings, settlements, public schools, Red Cross clubs, various women’s clubs, girls’ clubs, Y. W. C. A. (including the colored branches), Y. W. H. A., banks, lunch and tea rooms, ladies’ specialty shops and restaurants, the Hippodrome chorus, and soldiers’ and sailors’ clubs.