American women from all over the country organized a well-coordinated series of parades and demonstrations on May 2, 1914 to demand votes for women. These events were held in cities and towns throughout the country, including Wilmington, in the run up to a big march on Washington DC planned for the following Saturday, May 9th. Wilmington’s suffrage parade, the first of its kind ever held in the state, began at 3:00 PM on May 2nd at the railroad station and then headed up Front and Market Streets on its way to the courthouse building at Tenth and Market Streets, where both marchers and onlookers were treated to a series of speeches from various Delaware notables in favor of equal suffrage. Around 300 Delaware women (and also a large number of men and children) took part, and the event received favorable and sympathetic coverage in the local papers.
One of the marchers on this historic occasion was Frances Schagrin, who, together with her husband Charles, ran a clothing shop at 608 Market Street in Wilmington. Frances’ striking purple, white, and yellow silk Congressional Union Equal Suffrage sash is now part of our collections. Local papers deemed the parade “a striking success” and described the marchers “an attractive spectacle” in their suffrage sashes and regalia. Many local businesses along Market Street, including the Reynolds Candy Company, also showed their support with colorful suffrage-themed window displays.