Biographical Database of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920
A Crowdsourcing Experiment


July 23, 2015:
Almost 60 historians have responded to our call for volunteers to prepare biographical sketches of suffrage picketers of the White House in 1917.  We have assigned all 190 activists for whom bio sketches are needed.   Many respondents are writing one or two sketches of individual activists; others are planning to make an assignment of writing sketches be part of classes in women’s history they are offering over the next year and a half.

We have established a waiting list for new volunteers, anticipating that not all of the sketches that have been assigned will actually be written.  In addition, Jill Zahniser will be checking her sources on the NWP picketing to see if she can find additional activists who were part of that effort whom we might assign to our remaining volunteers.

In addition to the preparation of bio sketches, some volunteers will be doing archival research at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and College Park , MD., the Sewall-Belmont House in DC, and the Workhouse Prison Museum in Lorton, VA.  We are particularly interested in finding photographs of activists and newspaper accounts of the picketing.  The scope of the project is definitely broadening as we proceed.

At this date we have three bio sketches in hand.

December 3, 2015:
About 100 historians and students are now participating in our crowdsourcing activity. During the summer Jill Zahniser sent us a second installment of NWP activists and we are now including suffrage supporters who participated in major demonstrations in New York and Boston, as well as Washington, DC. In addition, we have asked for volunteers to prepare bio sketches for about 40 Black women suffragists whose writings we are posting as full-text sources on the website. Finally, a number of our volunteers have discovered additional NWP activists who were not in our original lists and we are adding these women to the project. Through these various additions, the number of suffragists for whom we are trying to crowdsource bio sketches has grown to about 340 individuals. Finally, we are asking participants in the project to share digital photos of the suffragists they are working on as well as any particularly interesting primary sources by or about their biographees as we are planning now to post a good number of these resources as well as on the website. If you are working on the project and come across new activists who should be included, please contact Tom Dublin and share their names and the sources that identify them as appropriate for this work.

April 16, 2016:
At this date we have 64 completed biographical sketches and students and independent scholars are currently working on many more. Professor Beth Salerno at St. Anselm’s College is working with students on New Hampshire suffrage activists among others and has shared a link to a wonderful article about her students’ work that appeared on the History Department Blog at the College. You can access the piece, “History 359 Discovers the History of Women,” at

June 1, 2016:
Our second semester of crowdsourcing is now complete and we have just reached 100 biographical sketches completed and ready for publication on WASM in the US.  Schools where faculty assigned sketches to students in their classes included:

Loyola Chicago
University of Iowa
Michigan State University
University of Michigan-Dearborn
Roanoke University
Tompkins-Cortland Community College
SUNY Oneonta
Warren Wilson College
Hampton University
St. Anselm’s  College
Louisiana State University
Central Connecticut State University
Fairfield University
Simmons College
University of Maryland
University of Delaware
University of Eastern Illinois
Georgetown University
Sacred Heart Preparatory School

October 1, 2016:
Over the past summer we received another 100 biographical sketches from participating faculty and historians, so that the number of completed sketches now exceeds 200.  This fall, we will submit about 175 bio sketches to Alexander Street for publication in our March 2017 issue of WASM in the US.  Jill Zahniser will write an essay drawing upon a sampling of these new sketches. We have now started another academic year and faculty at the following colleges and universities will be working with students on their campuses to research and write additional biographical sketches.

Fairfield University
Goucher College
Illinois Wesleyan University
Meredith College
Ohio State University
Sacred Heart (CA)  Preparatory School
Simmons College
SUNY New Paltz
University of Delaware
University of Maryland
University of North Carolina Greensboro
University of Rochester
Vassar College

March 15, 2018:  With this current issue we have posted about 300 of the 400 biographical sketches of NWP militant suffragists in this part of the database. 

Beginning with our September 2018 issue, we will incorporate our biographical sketches of NWP suffragists and Black women suffragists into a new resource, the Online Biographical Dictionary of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States. This project will post crowdsourced biographical sketches of some 3,350 suffragists:  400 NWP activists, 250 Black suffragists, and 2,700 suffragists affiliated with the mainstream National American Woman Suffrage Association. If you are interested in writing bio sketches, copyediting sketches, or involving students you work with in this project, please contact Tom Dublin at

Ideas for participating faculty: Karen Pastorello at Tompkins-Cortland (NY) Community College is working with honors students on biographical sketches. A librarian at the college, Margaret Anderson, has prepared a Library Guide for students, noting online and library resources that students may find of value in their research. The Library Guide is only accessible to students and faculty at the college, so I cannot share a link, but if you are planning to work with a class on a number of activists, you might coordinate with a reference librarian at your institution to prepare a similar research guide for resources accessible through your library?s collections.

Laura Prieto of Simmons College in Boston is planning to take a group of students working with her to the Schlesinger Library, for their research on Massachusetts women who participated in NWP demonstrations in Boston and Washington, DC. If there is a particularly valuable archive near your campus, consider such an outing and perhaps line up an archivist or curator to organize a presentation as the students begin their work.

If you have ideas on expanding the project or would like to volunteer to participate in the project, please contact Tom Dublin of the State University of New York at Binghamton at