Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Kristen Lawson

Second Advisor

Don Judd

Third Advisor

John Daley


During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and despite the fact that white women often discriminated against them, African American women across the United States worked to obtain voting rights for all women. Nationally, black women used the African American club movement and their experiences in church benevolent societies to advocate for women’s suffrage. In some cases, however, a widespread and thriving club movement did not lead to suffrage activities. In Knoxville, Tennessee, there is no evidence that the clubwomen participated in the suffrage movement. This thesis outlines the specific social conditions that caused to black clubwomen’s lack of suffrage work. I argue that, because of the delicate balance of race relations in Knoxville, African American women did not want to mar their reputations or stir up controversy that would harm African Americans’ progress in Knoxville by openly associating themselves with the women’s suffrage movement.



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