Whoever wins the 2016 Presidential election, it will go down in history as the first time a woman has won a major party’s nomination. But it has been less than 100 years since women first won the right to vote. On April 16, 1916, suffragists Nell Richardson and Alice Burke left New York in a yellow car made by the Saxon Motor Car Company. In it they had supplies for the journey and a kitten. Over the next several months, they drove around the country urging Americans to support suffrage.
In 1916 traveling across the country by car was no easy feat. There were no maps and roads were bad. There were few gas stations. Nell and Alice faced down blizzards, deserts and mud–to say nothing of crowds who weren’t all that eager to hear their message. Yet they endured.
When a crowd of men at a gas station didn’t want to hear their suffragist speech, Alice told them about their car instead. They joined a circus parade in Georgia. And when they finally arrived at the fair in California, they turned around and started the long journey home, preaching their message of Votes for Women the entire way.
Author Mara Rockliff relied heavily on contemporary news reports to write this book, a strong addition to the canon of picture books on women’s history. The story of Alice and Nell grappling with the difficulties inherent in driving across the country when cars were still a novelty provides a great lesson in perseverance. It also delivers a great reminder that women like Hillary Clinton are able to reach the highest levels of government because of the actions of many, many women a century ago. In an election year where women born before women’s suffrage can cast a vote for–or against–a woman for President, that is a salient reminder.
Around America to Win The Vote by Mara Rockliff; illustrated by Hadley Hooper; Candlewick; c2016