Nina Allender

Nina Allender

Nina Evans, the daughter of a superintendent of schools, was born in Auburn, Kansas, in 1872. She attended Concoran School of Art and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

A member of the National Women's Party, she was the main contributor of cartoons to The Suffragist.

Nina married an English banker, Charles Allender. He deserted her and it later emerged that he had left England to avoid a prison sentence for embezzlement and forgery.

Nina Evans Allender died in 1957.

Nina E. Allender

Nina Evans' father, David Evans, came to Kansas from New York, where he was a teacher and later headmaster. She studied painting , first at the Corcoran School of Art and from 1903 to 1907 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts . In 1893, at the age of 19, she married Charles H. Allender, who, however, left her for another woman in 1905 after emptying her bank account. She never married again. For a few years she studied in Spain and London and from 1903 to 1907 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

In 1906 Charles Sheeler and Morton Livingston Schamberg drew a portrait of her that is currently on display at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC . In 1916 she moved to Washington, DC, from there to Chicago , Illinois in 1942 and to Plainfield , New Jersey in 1956 , where she died a year later.


By 1910, Allender joined the National American Woman's Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and became president. She fought for women's rights and participated in many demonstrations. In 1913 she also became president of the Stanton Suffrage Club (SSC). With around 400 members, it was the largest association of feminists in the District of Columbia . Between 1913 and 1921, she began her career as a cartoonist with the National Woman's Party (NWP). She brought out over 150 cartoons there. She was the most important artist for this publication. After Alice Paul inspired her to do so, she became the official cartoonist for The Suffragist . On June 6, 1914, she brought out her first cartoon in 10:13 format.


Nina Evans Allander died on April 2, 1957 in the house of her niece Mrs. Frank Detweiler in Plainfield , where she was staying. After her death, her drawings were included in the Library of Congress . They later went to the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum of the National Woman's Party and were partially printed there.

Nina Allender - History

Women Marching in Suffragette Parade, Washington, DC/ National Archives and Records Administration (Mar 3, 1913)
by U.S. Information Agency
National Women’s History Museum
The Mascot (1915)
by Rolf Armstrong, New York : Published by Puck Publishing Corporation, 295-309 Lafayette Street, 1915 February 20.
National Women’s History Museum

Creating a powerful political imagery was crucial to establishing a political presence in the American public consciousness and in bringing about the acceptance of voting rights for women.

The Pioneer/ Library of Congress (1867)
by Drawn by A.R. Waud
National Women’s History Museum

As political parties developed in the 19th century, and politicians and their supporters vied for the votes of an expanding popular electorate, male politicians created potent images which they manipulated to achieve popular political support.

Revised (Apr 14, 1917)
by Kenneth Russell Chamberlain
National Women’s History Museum

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as women expanded their roles outside the domestic sphere into the public arena, they found in the mainstream political culture no images that spoke to women's experiences or conveyed women's political objectives.

The Awakening (1915)
by Puck Publishing Corporation
National Women’s History Museum

It was essential that women create a political culture of their own, including an imagery of suffrage that would form a vital and instantly recognizable means of political communication in a pre-television age.

Suffrage Procession (1917)
National Women’s History Museum

Suffrage's Two Faces: Mainstream and Militant

Out of the two philosophically and strategically divergent suffrage organizations in the early 20th century–the mainstream National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and the militant National Woman’s Party (NWP)–two separate suffrage imageries evolved.

Woman Suffrage Postcard/National Museum of American History (1911)
by National Woman Suffrage Publishing Company Incorporated
National Women’s History Museum

One set of images was aimed at moderate, mainstream women, emphasizing motherhood and social service.

Party watchfires burn outside White House, Jan. (Jan 1919)
by Harris & Ewing, Washington, D.C. (Photographer)
National Women’s History Museum

The other was directed toward more radical feminists and stressed equality, individual freedom, and personal empowerment.

Votes for Women Pin (1910)
National Women’s History Museum

This powerful new political culture promoted women's inclusion in the public life of the nation, and proved a significant tactic that successfully propelled suffrage to final passage by Congress and ratification by the states.

Creating a female political culture had been an ongoing endeavor for American women.

Female Political Culture

Creating a female political culture had been an ongoing endeavor for American women.

Washington Family/ National Portrait Gallery (1866)
by Currier & Ives Lithography Company
National Women’s History Museum

Women of the Revolutionary Era, seeking a political role for themselves in the new nation, created the concept of Republican Motherhood, a concept thoroughly explored by historian Linda Kerber in her work Women of the Republic.

Woman Suffrage Postcard/National Museum of Amerrican History
National Women’s History Museum

The concept of Republican Motherhood was echoed again in the mid-19th century by such prominent women as Catherine Beecher (famous educator and promoter of domestic science as a study for women) and Sarah Josepha Hale (editor of the popular and influential women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book).

Woman Suffrage Postcard/National Museum of Amerrican History
National Women’s History Museum

Building on the theme, women at the turn of the century continued to use aspects of their cultural role to political effect.

Insulting the President
by Nina Allender, 1917
National Women’s History Museum

The images and rhetoric comprising this political culture enabled women to transform their domestic experience into a powerful political statement, allowing them to extend their culturally-sanctioned role to include new public responsibilities.

Give Mother the Vote, We Need It (1915)
by National Woman Suffrage Publishing Co., New York
National Women’s History Museum

This politicized rhetoric and imagery of motherhood, as both a socially redemptive and politically compelling concept, became a central and forceful rationale, setting patterns for women's political participation in this country that continue to today.

The Suffragette/ Victoria and Albert Museum (1914)
by Christabel Pankhurst
National Women’s History Museum

In creating a female political culture, American women used materials rooted in American traditions as well as those borrowed and adapted to American usage from the British suffrage movement.

College day in the picket line (1917)
National Women’s History Museum

American suffrage women were inspired by political parades and demonstrations familiar throughout the 19th century during presidential campaigns.

[Hedwig Reicher as Columbia] in Suffrage Parade / Library of COngress (Mar 3, 1913)
by Bain News Service
National Women’s History Museum

The suffragists also embraced classical figures of women representing America, Democracy, Liberty, and Justice, which had been in American political use since the time of the Revolution.

WCTU float in 1916 Fourth of July Parade/Montana Historical Society
National Women’s History Museum

The Woman's Christian Temperance Union (a women's anti-alcohol and drug crusade that became the largest women's organization in the 19th century) had a history of street actions and public parades dating from the mid-1870s.

Speakers on "Prison Special" tour, San Francisco, 1919/Library of Congress
National Women’s History Museum

Suffrage supporters in California had staged parades as early as 1906 (prior to the first British suffrage parades) to promote a state amendment for women's vote.

Woman's Sphere Suffrage cartoons_LOC_001
National Women’s History Museum

The American cultural emphasis on women's presumed "inherent" domestic nature, her responsibilities for nurturing children, and her duties in the maintenance of the home resulted in the mainstream NAWSA's pervasive use of domestic images and rhetoric.

Lucy Branham protests the political imprisonmen. (1917)
by Harris & Ewing, Washington, D.C. (Photographer)
National Women’s History Museum

In fact, this domestic emphasis was the single most important distinction between the public discourse of the American and the British suffrage movements, and between the mainstream and militant wings of the American movement.

Woman Suffrage Postcard
National Women’s History Museum

Women's "Special" Qualities

By the end of the 19th century, American suffrage rhetoric based on motherhood and the "special" qualities of woman's nature became almost universal.

title="Suffragist Margaret Foley distributing the Woman's Journal and Suffrage News"
National Women’s History Museum

Mainstream women's movement leaders and the major suffrage journal of the NAWSA, The Woman's Journal, all championed the creed of Motherhood under the banner of "Social Housekeeping."

Woman Suffrage Postcard/National Museum of American History
by Votes-For-Women Publishing Company
National Women’s History Museum

Society was to be uplifted by woman's higher moral nature (superior to that of man, so the concept held) as that morality was infused into the social and political system.

Women at Work for the Right to Vote (1908 - 1909)
National Women’s History Museum

Political and social reform became a moral and civic necessity that would enable women to carry out effectively the work of "woman's proper sphere."

Handbill, "Twelve Reasons Why Women Should Vote"
by National Woman Suffrage Publishing Co., Inc.
National Women’s History Museum

Rather than intruding into the male sphere, the rhetoric stressed that woman's sphere was expanding outward to include the community and the nation as the larger "home."

Future Suffragists Mrs. Griffiths Entering Mothers and Babies in Parade/ Library of Congress
National Women’s History Museum

Women needed the ballot, so the mainstream argument went, not because they sought to intrude into the male sphere of activity, but in fulfillment of woman's traditional role.

Woman Suffrage Postcard/National Museum of American History
National Women’s History Museum

Themes of women as moral arbiters of society, keepers of cultural tradition and agents of cultural transmission, nurturers of children, philanthropists to the less fortunate, and mothers of the race were extensively emphasized.

Woman Suffrage Postcard/National Museum of American History (c1915)
by National Woman Suffrage Publishing Company Incorporated
National Women’s History Museum

These themes fit perfectly with the prevailing cultural concepts, held by both men and women, about the role of women in society. Stressing these themes opened up the arsenal of suffrage arguments to a wide range of new strategies and persuasive tactics.

Official program - Woman suffrage procession, Washington, D.C. March 3, 1913/Library of Congress by Benjamin M. Dale
National Women’s History Museum

With the reawakening of the suffrage drive in the early twentieth century came a proliferation of political materials aimed at selling the movement.


National Women's History Museum

Edith P. Mayo, Curator Emeritus
National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

10 Things to Know about Nina Evans Allender

I first learned about Nina Evans Allender while watching a PBS special about the women’s suffrage movement. The episode was set at the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum in Washington D.C., the headquarters for the National Woman’s Party. The entire episode was riveting, but I really sat up and paid attention when they mentioned that Allender was the main illustrator for the movement. This led me to do some independent research because I wanted to see more of her work and learn about her involvement with the movement. I decided to compose this blog post based on the information I found. Most of the content covered in this blog post came from the Sewall-Belmont House archives and Wikipedia.

Nina E. Allender (Cartoonist) Planning Cartoon Exhibit for Congressional Library�–Page #4

#1 Nina Evans Allender was an American artist, cartoonist, and women’s rights activist (December 25, 1873 – April 2, 1957).

#2 Allender studied art with William Merrit Chase, a famed American Painter and founder of the Chase School (which would later become known as Parsons The New School for Design).

The Spirit of 76! On to the Senate January 30 1915

#3 Allender considered herself a painter, but Alice Paul convinced her to try drawing. She wanted her to create illustrations for the suffrage paper known as The Suffragist.

#4 After Allender began drawing for the paper, she was quickly elevated to the role of the official cartoonist for the National Woman’s Party. She is known for creating the “Allender Girl”, a young woman who was portrayed as being capable, stylish, dedicated , and attractive (the previous portrayals of the suffragettes were less than ideal). During the course of her career, she contributed 297 political cartoons to The Suffragist newspaper, and changed the way that women were perceived going forward.

Our Hat is in the Ring April 8, 1916

#5 Allender sued her husband, Charles, for a divorce in January 1905 after he ran off with another woman, and she won. This was unprecedented for that time period. Women did not get divorces (the horror), and they certainly didn’t try to sue their husbands (the scandal).

#6 Allender was president of the District of Columbia Woman’s Suffrage Association in 1912 and president of the Stanton Suffrage Club in 1913.

The Suffragist June 21 1919

#7 Allender studied abroad in Spain and London for several years before returning to Washington, D.C.

#8 Allender designed the “Jailed for Freedom” pin, which was bestowed on women jailed for campaigning and picketing for the cause.

Allender PC67: September 1920, No Caption. [“Victory.”]

#10 Allender’s original drawings were housed in the Library Congress until the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum reclaimed them. There is now an extensive archive of Allender’s illustrations available on the website for the National Woman’s Party

In honor of Women’s History Month and to gain a better understanding of our shared history, the website for the National Woman’s Party is definitely worth checking out in its entirety. I am in awe of the sacrifices these women made to give us a right that we now take for granted. Whenever I need to remember how important it is to exercise my right to vote, I only need to look at information like this to put me on the right track.

Nina Allender: Suffrage Cartoonist

April 14, 2021, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

"Call to the Women Voters: 'Stand By Your Disfranchised Sisters!'" Cartoon by Nina Allender. Courtesy National Woman's Party.

On April 14, journalist Ronny Frishman will share a virtual presentation on Nina Allender. One of only a handful of female political cartoonists in the early twentieth century, Allender played a vital role in the women's suffrage movement. Unafraid to criticize powerful men and challenge the status quo, she was recruited by the activist Alice Paul to be the “official cartoonist” of The Suffragist, the weekly newspaper of the National Woman's Party. Her suffragist, known as “the Allender girl,” was viewed as the period's ideal of the modern female agitator. Her cartoons captured national attention and influenced public opinion, leading to passage of the 19th Amendment and full voting rights for women.

Ronny Frishman spent more than 30 years writing for newspapers, magazines and other media, including The Finger Lakes Times and the Gannett Rochester Newspapers. She also taught journalism at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. More recently, she has undertaken a new challenge—sharing her storytelling with children and writing books for young readers. Her non-fiction middle-grade book, Nina Allender, Suffrage Cartoonist: With a Drawing Pencil She Helped Win the Vote for Women, was released last September.

The Lecture Series is supported in part by the Samuel B. Williams fund for programs in the Humanities and is free and open to the public. For more information about the program, call the Geneva Historical Society office at 315-789-5151.

Nina Allender Political Cartoon Collection - 1918.002.020

A woman holds up two signs: "Democratic Senators--Fifty-Five Percent for the Suffrage Amendment," and "Republican Senators--Seventy-Five Percent for the Suffrage Amendment." The artist wrote the date August, 1918 on the original drawing.

Propaganda of the Suffrage Movement

During the suffrage movement, there were those who supported women’s right to vote and those who opposed the right for Women to Vote. Pro-suffrage propaganda idealized the future in which all were created equal, while anti-suffrage propaganda foretold a future of complete societal break down.

Political cartoons were published in newspapers and inspired new songs and music to garner support for both sides. Scroll through the gallery to learn more!

Hover Over Image for Content

Mind the baby, I Must Vote To-day

During this time period, a woman’s place was in the home. Heaven forbid the father of the household to be responsible for his children. It was his role to work outside of the home only. This poster is trying to scare men and women this is the future waiting for them if women are granted the right to vote.

Mind the baby, I Must Vote To-day

Webb, E. H., composer, lyricist, 1914

Library of Congress, Music Division

Women's Work for Women. 'The Sky's the Limit.'

Nina Allender created many posters outlining the hopes and ideals of the Women’s Suffrage movement. She was the official artist for The Suffragist (the weekly newspaper of the National Woman’s Party),

Women's Work for Women. 'The Sky's the Limit.'

These poor Kewpie Dolls! The one on the right is broken-hearted since they are a girl baby they will be “taxed without representation”. Where have we heard that saying before!

Propaganda pulls from successful campaigns of the past. “No taxation without representation” was a rallying cry for the American Revolution. This is trying to imply granting women the right to vote is the American and patriotic thing to do.

National Women’s Suffrage Association

At the beginning of the Suffrage Movement, the United States was still adding states to the union. When states like Utah joined, they granted women full suffrage. Other western states followed. The west led the way in granting women the right to vote.

National Woman Suffrage Publishing

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center

This map from 1919 is another representation of the which states granted the women the right to vote. Note which states were first!

It was not as simple as men vs. women for suffrage. Many men supported the women’s right to vote and many women did not want the right to vote. Some claimed a women’s place was in the home and there were too hysterical and emotional to vote.

Poster created by Nina Allender

National Woman’s Party Collection

This poster created by Nina Allender shows a young woman lecturing a donkey about how the political parties are not meeting the needs of their citizens.

In this poster, Allender is drawing comparisons between President Lincoln handing the emancipation proclamation to enslaved Americans and the U.S. Constitution being held out of reach of women.

Nina Allender. Published in The Suffragist (January 23, 1915)

There are countless photographs of women protesting. This Allender poster commemorates these women. Often protest signs would contain quotes from leaders of the movement or taking the words of the political leaders. This banner features the Call to Action for World War I from Woodrow Wilson, “. We shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts, -- for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own Governments,”.

Nina Allender. Published in The Suffragist (June 6, 1917)

By 1918, unofficial vote counts of senators supporting the woman suffrage amendment revealed a deficit of just two votes. In this June 1918 cartoon by Nina Allender, a woman dressed as a soldier stands over a man representing the Senate. The man holds a piece of paper that reads, “Two Votes.” The phrase “The Last Trench” is inscribed beneath the image.

Nina Allender Political Cartoon Collection, National Woman's Party

As with any fight for human rights, women were willing to sacrifice and go to incredible lengths to have their voices heard. The caption reads “President Wilson says, ‘Godspeed to the Cause’”, while the board asks exactly what the President will do or if he will only offer words instead of action.

A Woman Speaking to Women: The Political Art of Nina Allender

From 1914 until her final cartoon appeared in 1927, Nina Allender contributed over 150 cartoons to the suffrage campaign, mostly original drawings. .

Allender created the cartoons first for The Suffragist, the weekly publication of the National Woman's Party from 1913 until 1921, and later for its successor, Equal Rights, published from 1923 until 1954. The National Woman's Party (NWP) was the only suffrage organization to boast an "official cartoonist." Other cartoonists' works also appeared on the covers of The Suffragist, but Allender's were unique. She was one of the principal cartoonists who helped change the mainstream image of the suffragist as unattractive, selfish, and rowdy. She created a suffragist image labeled the "Allender Girl,&rdquo who was young, slender, and energetic&mdasha capable woman with an intense commitment to the cause. Allender used her illustrations to present a spectrum of women: feminist, wife, mother, student, and activist. Today she is considered one of the most significant political artists of the era, capturing the spirited struggle for women's rights as it happened and providing a unique window into this intense chapter in women's history.

A Woman Speaking to Women: The Political Art of Nina Allender features cartoons, publications, and photographs taken directly from the National Woman&rsquos Party collection at the Belmont-Paul Women&rsquos Equality National Monument. It will be on display at the Park City Museum from November 27 through January 13.


Birds weren’t the only animals that gained relevance in the struggle for suffrage. Cats became one of the movement’s most enduring symbols—and their meaning evolved over time as men and women grappled with what it would mean for women to participate in the political process.

“Cats appeared more frequently. than any other animal,” writes historian Kenneth Florey, who chalks it up to the popularity of the animals on the era’s popular suffrage postcards, which conveyed both support and disdain for the suffragist’s cause.

At first, cats were an anti-suffrage symbol. In the 19th century, cats and dogs had gendered associations. Dogs, known for being active, were associated with men, and cats were associated with women, who were expected to remain within their designated sphere of hearth and home. Women who deviated from social norms were sometimes portrayed as hissing outdoor cats, the antithesis of the placid housecat. Anti-suffragists feared that men’s masculinity would be diminished as women entered public life. As a result, cats often appeared on postcards that depicted men forced to perform “feminine” tasks such as the laundry, childcare, or cooking.

An English law lent the symbol even more power. In 1913, British Parliament passed the Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health Act in response to the increasing use of hunger strikes by militant suffragists, who were imprisoned for things like smashing windows, setting mailboxes on fire, and engaging in arson and bombings to gain attention for their cause. The law ended the use of force feeding in jail, which had generated intense public outcry, and allowed prisoners on hunger strike to be released and re-imprisoned once their health improved. Women were subject to surveillance and control during their temporary releases from jail, however, and the law was promptly nicknamed the “Cat and Mouse Act.”

A few years later, two American suffragists embraced the cat as a pro-suffrage symbol during a nationwide tour to promote suffrage. In April 1916, Nell Richardson and Alice Burke set out in the “Golden Flyer,” a car donated by the Saxon Motor Company, and drove from New York to California and back, giving speeches and newspaper interviews along the way. They took a kitten named Saxon with them, and the cat generated publicity of its own as the press documented its growth over the six-month trip. (The Spanish flu nearly derailed the women's suffrage movement.)

Suffrage in 60 Seconds: Nina Allender

Her cartoons changed public awareness about who the suffragists were and what a feminist looks like. The Allender Girl was political, powerful, in control, often pictured with her hands on her hips, her chin up, claiming her right to the public square.

When the National Woman's Party picketers were accused of causing scandal with their unladylike and un-American behavior, Nina Allender drew the picketers as courageously holding their banners up high as they were being viciously attacked. The arguments in her illustrations made an impact that maybe even the slogans on the banners couldn't accomplish.

But her work also perpetuated the connection of whiteness and upper-class elitism to the suffrage movement. The Allender Girl is young, white, and privileged. And that is not a true picture of all the women who fought for the vote.

As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, we need to create a truer picture.

What does a feminist look like?

As the official cartoonist of the National Woman's Party, Nina Allender changed public perception about what feminists looked like. But her political cartoons, while witty and provocative, excluded many people who were fighting for the vote. Who gets left out of the picture in the struggle for equality today?

Watch the video: Allender Kids talk about their moms new book