In December 1935 Edith Williams, Anna Vessup, and Eulalie Stevens filed an application against the Town and Country Electoral Boards of St. Thomas, and their members. They filed their application in the St. Thomas District Court. They wanted to be recognized as qualified voters. Qualifications for voting at the time, 1934, included length of residency, age, and income requirements. The women fulfilled all the requirements. They were residents of St. Thomas. They met the age requirement. And they earned the required income through their jobs as teachers. They were however denied by the electoral boards because they were women. The three women won their case, which resulted in the judgement you are studying. The case led the way to qualified women being allowed to register and vote in St. Thomas. Qualified women on St. John and St. Croix would also challenge their electoral boards and gain eligibility to vote.
Primary Sources in this Activity
Suggested Teaching Instructions
This primary source activity includes the topics of women’s right, human rights and voting. Viewed as a sensitive topic for classroom lessons, teachers should consider their students ability to engage with the topics, give background information, create a safe environment for discussion, and be prepared to support their students’ questions and responses to the subject matter.
Before beginning this activity, the teacher can explain terms such as election, electoral board, writ of permanent mandamus, and qualifications for voting as needed.
- Election is the process of voting to choose someone to be their political leader or representative.
- The electoral board is the official organization that manages elections.
- Writ of permanent mandamus directs a government office or a department to take a certain action.
- Qualifications to vote are things that someone who wants to vote are required to be, like a certain age, or a resident of the place they want to vote in.
Load the “Judgment, In the Matter of the Application of Edith Williams, Anna M. Vessup, and Eulalie Stevens” onto an interactive smart board and have students make observations and read it together. If there is not a smart board, students can work in small groups at computers.
Also load the Analyze a Written Document worksheet on the smart board or on computers so that you can lead students through answering the questions on the worksheet.