Newspapers and the Public’s Perception

Emily Reth is a graduate student in the Wright State University Public History program completing her capstone project with SC&A.

There are rumors the Women’s suffrage movement was quite large within Dayton’s borders. Looking at the Dayton Daily News during the 1910s and into 1920, readers would have an entirely different idea. The news articles can give us a better idea about the political climate of the day and how women’s suffrage was received. The newspaper was strongly against suffrage, noting several pages where the ratifying the amendment in Ohio was discouraged. According to several collections within the holdings of Special Collections & Archives, the suffrage movement was quite large in Dayton, yet the Dayton Daily News refused to cover the subject. During 1920, the only news published was about other states ratifying the amendment rather than the activism happening in Dayton.

At that time, the newspaper was male-dominated, showing their opinions about where a woman’s place may be. The articles are a sign of how some community members disapproved of the amendment ratification and used the media to sway the community and combat the women’s rights movement, rather than depicting a clear picture of what was truly happening in Dayton.

As the collections in SC&A are examined, items, like this telegram from John H. Patterson sent in 1912, really speak to how some members of the community fully supported women’s rights.


As women’s clubs persisted in their work to support and empower women, high standing community members such as John H. Patterson supported these groups by donating through a recurring membership and contributing further donations after his death, ensuring the group’s work continued.

The Dayton Daily News on microfilm can be viewed by visiting the Ohio Historical Newspaper Collection on the second floor of Dunbar Library.

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