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Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: 1918 Flu Pandemic

By Oct. 1918, 12 states had recognized women’s right to vote, but a federal constitutional amendment was defeated in the Senate.

With midterm elections fast approaching, suffragists organized to oust anti-suffrage senators and campaign in support of state referendums enfranchising women. But just days after the Senate defeat, the Spanish flu pandemic swept through the country.

Then as now, political activities, including marches, speeches, and rallies were suspended. Undaunted, women activated a no-contact suffrage campaign, which included thousands of phone calls, letters, and newspapers ads.

The campaign spelled victory for women in Michigan, Oklahoma, and South Dakota, all of whom gained the vote that year.