The Press and Women's Suffrage

Local papers could easily sway public opinion, so suffragists were keen to attract positive news coverage.

The main sources of news in 1914 were either neighborhood gossip or the local newspaper. Radio only became widely available in the late 1920s. Local papers could easily sway public opinion, so suffragists were keen to attract positive news coverage.

Minneapolis's main newspaper in the early 20th century was the Minneapolis Daily Tribune, founded in 1867 as a four-page daily. By 1907, under the leadership of publisher William J. Murphy, its morning and evening editions reached an estimated 101,165 readers.

The offices of the Minneapolis Tribune were located on "Newspaper Row," on 4th Street between Nicollet and Marquette Ave. This location was conveniently near bars and the banking district, Chamber of Commerce, and the Courthouse. The block also served as the headquarters of the Saturday Evening Spectator, the Minneapolis Journal, Minneapolis Penny Press, and the Minneapolis Times, and held the Minneapolis offices of the St. Paul Globe and The Pioneer Press.

The Tribune's coverage of the local suffrage movement was generally fair, but sometimes delivered with wry humor or unflattering characterizations. After the May 1914 parade, for example, it commented:

"Minneapolis wakes this morning with some distinctly new ideas of those who are engaged in obtaining votes for women. Minneapolis learned by practical demonstration that those who ask the ballot for women are distinctly not a bevy of hopeless spinsters, unhappily married women, and persons who have nothing else to do…."

It went on: "[t]he largely male group of bystanders … were impressed with the fact that there is in Minneapolis a considerable army of women determined to have the ballot and to march through the streets to get it."

The Tribune's main rival was the Minneapolis Journal (1888-1939), which featured cartoons by the popular cartoonist, Charles “Bart” Bartholomew (1869-1949). Bartholomew started working at the Republican-leaning newspaper as a reporter and occasional illustrator.

Eventually, he was able to convince editor J.S. McClain that the Journal needed a full-time cartoonist. His cartoons ran nearly every day from 1890 to 1915 and were reprinted across the United States and the world. The full collection of over 6,000 prints is housed at the Minneapolis Central Library.

Images

Newspaper Row, Fourth Street, between 1st Ave North and 1st Ave South, Minneapolis

Newspaper Row, Fourth Street, between 1st Ave North and 1st Ave South, Minneapolis

From Historyapolis: "Long before the internet, before television and before radio, the media had a physical location in Minneapolis that everyone knew. Fourth Street was the 'Fleet Street' for the local press. Newspaper row–which included the Globe, the Minneapolis Journal, the Pioneer Press, the Penny Press, the Tribune, the Minneapolis Time, the Svenska American Posten and Lund™s Topics in 10 Point–stretched from 1st Avenue North to 1st Avenue South, across Nicollet Avenue.""Henry Broderick remembers Fourth Street as an 'al fresco forum, with hordes of debaters, mostly all talking at once, a bedlam of sounds and furies, coming from people aroused to a high pitch. . . When political campaigns raged, the entire street area on Fourth from Nicollet to First Avenue would be crammed with crowds, arguing the merits of candidates and causes. At times, the open-faced orators would, in a jiffy, turn into tight-lipped combatants.'"  "This photo shows a crowd gathered in front of the Minneapolis Journal, probably around 1900. Broderick described how 'between editions of the papers, crowds looking for news would gather on 4th street to read the bulletin boards posted in front of each newspaper building.' ”Sources:Kirsten Delegard, "Newspaper Row," Historyapolis blog, October 4, 2013James Lileks, "Star Tribune is Last of Minneapolis Newspaper Buildings," Star Tribune, March 21, 2015 | Creator: Kirsten Delegard View File Details Page

Charles Bartholomew, "David and Goliath," <em>Minneapolis Journal</em>, April 15, 1910

Charles Bartholomew, "David and Goliath," Minneapolis Journal, April 15, 1910

A very small woman holding a rolling pin and a scroll labelled Woman Suffrage faces off with President Taft, who had just addressed the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in Washington in April 1910. Charles “Bart” Bartholomew (1869-1949) started working at the Minneapolis Journal as a reporter and occasional illustrator. Eventually, he was able to convince editor J.S. McClain that the Journal needed a full-time cartoonist. His cartoons ran nearly every day from 1890 to 1915 and were reprinted across the United States and the world. The full collection of over 6,000 prints is housed at the Minneapolis Central Library. View File Details Page

Charles Bartholomew, "A Look to the Future," <em>Minneapolis Journal</em>, Nov. 29, 1913

Charles Bartholomew, "A Look to the Future," Minneapolis Journal, Nov. 29, 1913

A woman sits on top of the Capitol, looking through a telescope labeled "The Future."  She sees a female Uncle Sam, a woman Senator, and a female Secretary of the Interior resolving the price of eggs.Charles “Bart” Bartholomew (1869-1949) started working at the Minneapolis Journal as a reporter and occasional illustrator. Eventually, he was able to convince editor J.S. McClain that the Journal needed a full-time cartoonist. His cartoons ran nearly every day from 1890 to 1915 and were reprinted across the United States and the world. The full collection of over 6,000 prints is housed at the Minneapolis Central Library. View File Details Page

Charles Bartholomew, "The Soft Answer," <em>Minneapolis Journal</em>, December 9, 1913

Charles Bartholomew, "The Soft Answer," Minneapolis Journal, December 9, 1913

President Wilson speaks to a woman with an Equal Suffrage hat while the feather of her hat tickles the head of Congress. Aunty Democracy looks on. President Wilson had recently called for a congressional committee to address the subject, but declined to press Congress to move ahead, as it was not part of his party's platform. Charles “Bart” Bartholomew (1869-1949) started working at the Minneapolis Journal as a reporter and occasional illustrator. Eventually, he was able to convince editor J.S. McClain that the Journal needed a full-time cartoonist. His cartoons ran nearly every day from 1890 to 1915 and were reprinted across the United States and the world. The full collection of over 6,000 prints is housed at the Minneapolis Central Library. View File Details Page

Charles Bartholomew, "Waiting at the Church," <em>Minneapolis Journal</em>, July 11, 1912

Charles Bartholomew, "Waiting at the Church," Minneapolis Journal, July 11, 1912

A woman with a large Woman Suffrage hat watches the Democratic and Republican parties walk away.  Meanwhile, Theodore Roosevelt, labeled "Third Party," observes from behind a fence.  Both major parties had declined to advocate for women's suffrage in their party platforms, but Roosevelt's new party had not yet indicated a position. Charles “Bart” Bartholomew (1869-1949) started working at the Minneapolis Journal as a reporter and occasional illustrator. Eventually, he was able to convince editor J.S. McClain that the Journal needed a full-time cartoonist. His cartoons ran nearly every day from 1890 to 1915 and were reprinted across the United States and the world. The full collection of over 6,000 prints is housed at the Minneapolis Central Library. View File Details Page

Martha Angle Dorsett (1851—1918)

Martha Angle Dorsett (1851—1918)

Martha Dorsett was for years the secretary of the Political Equality Club of Minneapolis. In that capacity, she was in charge of the organization's publications. When fund-raising fell short, she purchased and learned to run a printing machine herself, to avoid costly outsourcing expenses. Dorsett was also the first woman admitted to the bar in the state of Minnesota. Born in New York state, she graduated with a degree in law from the University of Michigan in 1875. The following year, she married Charles William Dorsett (1850-1936), who was also a lawyer. Together they had three children and raised several adopted children. Both quit their law practices to become restaurant owners and caterers at the C.W. and M.A. Dorsett Co. Sadly, their house burned twice and with it, the printing press and many suffrage records. Sources:"Martha Dorsett is Taken by Death," Minneapolis Morning Tribune, March 9, 1918, p.4.The Dorsett Case, Minnesota Legal History Project View File Details Page

Street Address:

Newspaper Row, Fourth Street and Nicollet Ave.
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Cite this Page:

Jacqueline deVries and Matthew Glavan, “The Press and Women's Suffrage,” Augsburg Digi-Tours, accessed October 31, 2020, http://digitours.augsburg.edu/items/show/70.

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