Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Elizabeth (Mrs. Z.T.) Lindsey, 1860-?
Iowa State University
Faculty Sponsor: Sarah Chase Crosby
Subject Librarian: Susan A. Vega Garcia
According to the 1930 US Census, Elizabeth Lindsey was born in Illinois in 1860 and at some point moved to Nebraska. In the newly-made state of Nebraska, many women were active in feminist organizations, including Elizabeth Lindsey. Her work in organizing petitions and leading a women's group in Douglas County helped contributed to the achievement of women's suffrage.
Nebraska's Initiative and Referendum law, passed in 1897, changed the way that citizens could decide what laws should be enacted. In particular, this website, "Nebraska." IRI Initiative and Referendum Institute, revealed that the law "allowed citizens in each city and other municipal subdivisions to place initiatives and referendums on the ballot with petitions signed by 15 percent of voters." This law helped Elizabeth Lindsey and other suffragists petition their way into state elections in hopes of winning the right to vote.
In History of Women's Suffrage Vol. 6: 1900-1920 by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, et al., Elizabeth Lindsey worked with an Omaha women's organization as an auditor for the group. There is further evidence that proves this, according to the article "State Meeting of Women" in the Omaha Daily Bee of December 2, 1894. At the end of the article, the author asks that anyone who would like to attend the meeting to mail Mrs. Z,T. Lindsey. Additionally, Stanton notably describes how suffragists worked on a petition to get a women's suffrage law on the ballot during the next election, which Lindsey may have been a part of based on her position as auditor at this time. This organization attempted to reach fellow suffragists, as seen in the Omaha Daily Bee published on October 17, 1913: "all women who are interested in the petition and work in the city will meet with the committee at this time." The account also states that Elizabeth Lindsey was delegated the task of "chairman of Douglas County," which involved maintaining the petition operation in that county. From January to March 1914, Stanton observed women from across the state going to different counties and receiving signatures from both men and women alike, and on March 14, 1914, the petitions were submitted to the Secretary of State. As stated in History of Women's Suffrage, "Although only 37,752 signatures were required it had 50,705 and these represented sixty-three counties instead of the required thirty-eight."
Despite the overwhelming popularity of the petition, only men were allowed to vote on the referendum; because of this, the amendment was not passed into law. Although the denial of their referendum was disappointing for these suffragists and, one could assume, Elizabeth Lindsey, Douglas County was able to gain the highest number of signatures, as shown in the Omaha Daily Bee of December 4, 1914, Douglas County was heralded for the efforts in petitioning: "Although Lancaster county heads the honor list of counties, we take off our hats to Douglas County women."
Therefore, Elizabeth Lindsey's efforts clearly garnered respect and influenced the suffrage movement. Although little is known about her death, based on the 1930 US Census, she was 70 and living in Nebraska. Regardless of what happened to her later in life, it is clear that without pioneers like Elizabeth Lindsey and other suffragists, many women would not be able to have the opportunities, and be able to build off those opportunities, to form new meanings for the word feminism.
"Equal Suffragists Will Hold Meeting Friday Afternoon." Omaha Daily Bee, October 17, 1913. http://chhttp://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99021999/1913-10-17/ed-1/seq-12/roniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99021999/1913-10-17/ed-1/seq-12/.
Findmypast. "1930 US Census Transcription." Findmypast. Accessed Oct. 25, 2017. https://search.findmypast.com/results/united-states-and-canada-records?firstname=elizabeth&firstname_variants=true&lastname=lindsey&yearofbirth=1860&yearofbirth_offset=0&keywordsplace=nebraska
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Ida Husted Harper. History of Women's Suffrage Vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. [LINK].
"State Meeting of Women." Omaha Daily Bee, December 2, 1894. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99021999/1894-12-02/ed-1/seq-7/.
"Suffs Not Pleased With Campaign." Omaha Daily Bee, December 4, 1914. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99021999/1914-12-04/ed-1/seq-7/.
University of Southern California. "Nebraska." IRI Initiative and Referendum Institute. USC Gould School of Law. 2017. Accessed September 21, 2017. http://www.iandrinstitute.org/states/state.cfm?id=17.