On the Bright Side

Notes, photographs and newspaper clippings chronicling the history of women’s suffrage efforts in Delaware County will soon be widely accessible, thanks to a grant that will pay for the digitization of documents, officials said Thursday.

The South Central Regional Library Council has awarded $1,000 in funding to digitize the Cannon Collection and the Delhi Women’s Suffrage Club records, which are kept by the Delaware County Historical Association, according to DCHA Executive Director Tim Duerden.

The project is coming just in time for the New York State Women’s Suffrage Centennial in 2017, according to a media release from the council. The two collections document the role of Delaware County women in the efforts to achieve the right to vote in New York, which was attained in 1917.

The Cannon Collection includes two 30-page scrapbooks with news clippings related to women’s suffrage in Delaware County and New York, as well as several photographs and letters, Duerden said. The Delhi Women’s Suffrage Club records include a handwritten minutes book and treasurer’s book.

After they are digitized, these items will be accessible online and via New York Heritage and the Digital Public Library of America, Duerden said.

Ray LaFever, the DCHA’s archivist, said the project will show that there were women in Delaware County, and men, who supported equal suffrage.

“I think it is important for people in New York State to see that there were efforts at the rural level to gain the vote for women,” LaFever said Thursday. “From what I have looked at, it appears to me that the efforts for equal suffrage in Delaware County certainly were strong and brought in solid community support.”

LaFever said a major player in the Delaware County efforts toward women’s suffrage was Jennie Curtis Cannon, wife of prominent banker Henry White Cannon, who descended from the family that gave Cannonsville its name and eventually became president of Chase National Bank of New York.

The Delhi Equal Suffrage Club was created in 1912, LaFever said. Cannon provided the club with headquarters in 1915 and had some powerful connections in the women’s suffrage community. She was the Delaware County representative on the state-wide suffrage committee, he said.

According to the book “Hats Off: Notable Women of Delaware County, NY,” which was written by local women Mary Jane Henderson and Barbara Coleman, the Cannons split their time between New York City and their summer home on Main Street in Delhi.

As a prominent, wealthy woman, Jennie Cannon used her connections to organize talks, programs and rallies, the book says. She also came to be well-known in the suffrage movement for being a good host for visitors, providing comfortable places to stay and work. She eventually served as the vice president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

From 1914 until 1917, Cannon was in the thick of the fray, according to the book. Accounts of her activities appeared frequently in the columns of the Delaware Republican and The New York Times. She traveled all around Delaware County rallying hundreds of women to the suffrage cause.

On one particular occasion in 1915, Canon organized a mass meeting at the Courthouse Square in Delhi, according to the book. Despite inclement weather, a large group was assembled there, with a military band playing and George A. Fisher, deputy attorney general, vowing to vote for the suffrage amendment in November.

Cannon lived a mere decade after women won the right to vote nationwide in 1920. She died suddenly on a return trip from Europe in 1929 and is buried at Woodland Cemetery in Delhi.

LaFever said he’s looking forward to beginning the project of digitizing the records so that more people can have access to them.