Printed ribbons promoting political candidates and causes such as temperance first appeared in America in the 1840’s. The first suffrage ribbons, however, did not come about until after the failed Kansas campaign of 1867 and consisted primarily of hand-fashioned pieces of yellow cloth, the color being that of the Kansas sunflower. The first printed suffrage ribbons probably were not made until the 1880’s, and their primary purpose was that of identifying delegates at state and national conventions.
Some exceptions to that function were the 1894 Kansas ribbon depicted here printed by an activist newspaper that promoted a proposed suffrage amendment to the state’s constitution, and the 600,000 petition piece distributed at the 1894 NYWSA convention in Troy, which thanked volunteers for their work on distributing a petition to urge lawmakers working on a revised New York Constitution to consider a suffrage amendment. The 1897 ribbon from Minnesota, also pictured here, was signed on the back by Susan B. Anthony, who had attended the convention, and who had autographed several of the ribbons.