“Self-Government is a Natural Right…

Posted on September 18, 2019

by John D

…and the ballot is the method of exercising that right.”

These words sit upon the front page of The National Citizen and Ballot Box newspaper. It published between 1876 and 1881 as an organ of communication for the National Woman Suffrage Association, furthering the organization’s mission to gain women the right to vote.

The Library’s Local History and Genealogy Department has digitized from microfilm the complete available run of the newspaper. It is now available online, with an accompanying index to make searching the newspaper for particular subjects more straightforward.

The paper, founded and edited by Sarah S. L. Williams, was first published April, 1876 in Toledo. Ms. Williams continued in her role until illness caused her to give up editorship in 1878. Matilda Joslyn Gage took over, and the paper was then based out of Syracuse, New York. Originally named The Ballot Box, the newspaper expanded its name to The National Citizen and Ballot Box to indicate Ms. Gage’s aspiration that women have full citizenship in the country. The newspaper first ran under its new name in May, 1878.

A Thorough Indexing

The Library was lucky enough to have an enterprising librarian by the name of Mara Ann Pinto Oess working in the Local History Department in the 1970s. She took it upon herself in 1976 to write an explanatory introduction and index to The National Citizen and Ballot Box, providing a history of the newspaper, how it changed over time between editorships of Ms. Williams and Ms. Gage, and the larger landscape in which the newspaper was situated.

Ms. Oess indexed the newspaper exhaustively. She noted when particular individuals, such as Lucy Webb Hayes, made an appearance. The index further includes documents such as the Declaration of the Rights of Women of the United States, locations as close as Ohio or as far away as Japan, topics such as Prohibition, and events such as the Salem Convention.

As the United States celebrates the 100-year anniversary of ratifying the Nineteenth Amendment, we invite you to take a look at one of Toledo’s contributions to that historic national movement.

Access The National Citizen and Ballot Box

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