Sara Bard Field 18831974

Johan Hagemeyer (18841962)
Gelatin silver print, 1927

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

In September 1915, Sara Bard Field—newly divorced from her first husband—embarked on a cross-country automobile trip from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., with the goal of promoting women’s suffrage. At each stop along her route, rallies were held and signatures were added to a petition. Field often encountered suffrage opponents who heckled and disrupted these gatherings. Equally challenging were the poor road and weather conditions she endured in her open-air Oldsmobile.

Four months after her departure, Field arrived at the White House, where she and fellow supporters delivered to President Woodrow Wilson more than half a million signatures to provide for a federal suffrage amendment. While Wilson did not back the amendment, this event was well received in the press and contributed to growing support that ultimately led to the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.