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Suffrage In Sixty Seconds: 1918 Flu Pandemic And Women’s Suffrage Amendment

The Dec. 15, 1918 Arkansas Gazette attributed the defeat of a proposed Arkansas Constitution, which included a provision for women’s suffrage, to bad weather and “the prevalence of influenza in some districts.”

However, the pandemic helped highlight women’s contributions to society. For instance, in Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas’ infirmary was overflowing with infected soldiers and called for fifty women, with or without medical training, to nurse the sick around the clock.

University president John Futrall concluded, “the epidemic was mastered in so short a time” due to the “unselfish devotion” of these women. The following year, Arkansas became the twelfth state to ratify the federal women’s suffrage amendment.