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Municipal Housekeeping

February 14, 1907 — National American Woman Suffrage Association Convention, Chicago IL


In all the things that make the city a good place in which to work, the woman is as much concerned as any one. When it comes to the questions which affect women, she has of course a peculiar ability to speak, a peculiar responsibility and an obligation to assume every right necessary to carry out that responsibility. It is incumbent upon her to secure the power to move in the most direct way upon the obstacles which lie in her path in the controlling of conditions . . . 

It is to the housekeeper that I want to call your attention, rather than to the workingwoman. She has to decide how she will use her time, energy and money to promote the life, health, comfort and welfare of her family. The little group must live in a house. If she reside in a city, it is a matter of concern what shall be the structure of it, whether made of material endangering the household or not; if in an apartment house, she is concerned in the regulations under which such houses are built and controlled, in the fire escapes, the sort of gas, the dimensions of the apartments, the order of the rooms, the plumbing, etc.

It is obvious that today no woman can be a competent housekeeper unless she has an intelligent knowledge of these subjects. She must exercise a control over the ordinances and have something to say about the men who make these ordinances and who enforce them. She has not the power se needs as a housekeeper unless she feels that the officials of the city are as much responsible to her, although they are not chosen by her alone, as are the domestic servants whom she does select. Her collective responsibility is just as great as her individual responsibility . . . 

Women cannot stop either at the bottom or the top by asking for municipal suffrage. If woman is going to be a compete housekeep she must be a member of a political group and that leads to the demand for municipal, state, and federal suffrage. 



Source: The History of Woman Suffrage. Vol V. (195). (New York: National Woman Suffrage Association) 1922.