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The Surprising Role of Circus Performers in the Fight for Women's Suffrage

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tags: suffrage, womens history, Circus



It’s no secret that the fight to win the right to vote for American women was a massive effort. But one of the many groups involved in that effort may still hold a little surprise: female circus performers.

As explained in this preview clip from the new PBS American Experience documentary The Circus, premiering Monday and Tuesday in two parts, one major element turning the tide toward suffrage was the increasing presence of women in the workforce. Women who could support themselves, who spent more of their time out of the home, could see the iniquity in their lack of political representation. Those working women turned out in force for a massive 1912 suffrage rally in New York City and continued to push for change all the way up until the passing of the 19th Amendment.

But that group wasn’t limited to just the better-known women workers, like those in the garment industry who so bolstered the labor movement. The women of the circus were also part of this history. In fact, that march took place right around the same time as the founding of the Barnum & Bailey’s Circus Women’s Equal Rights Society.

Read entire article at Time Magazine

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