Hard One, Not Done


A commemoration of the 100-Year Anniversary of the Ratification of the 19th Amendment from an Iowa Perspective

Vivian B. Smith

Vivian Smith is recognized as one of the Buxton Women who were public advocates for women’s suffrage during the early 1900s.  Ms. Smith believed that women’s right to vote would be beneficial to African Americans as well as whites.


She was a member of the Waterloo Suffragette Council and served as chair of the suffrage committee for the Iowa State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs in 1917.


In addition to her direct work with the suffrage movement, Ms. Smith was also a talented violinist and singer and would often perform at meetings of the Iowa Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs.


She attended the Iowa State Teachers College at Cedar Falls (now known as the University of Northern Iowa) as the only student of color at the time, graduating in 1916.  She became a teacher and taught in Illinois.

Authors: Allyn Benkowich and Kristen Corey, Office on the Status of Women

Photo credit: UNI

Primary Sources:



https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85049804/1916-09-01/ed-1/seq-4/#date1=1789&index=0&rows=20&words=B+Smith+Vivian&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=Iowa&date2=1963&proxtext=vivian+b+smith&y=17&x=4&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1 (article of her suffrage activity).


https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85049804/1917-04-13/ed-1/seq-5/#date1=1789&index=7&rows=20&words=Smith+Vivian&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=Iowa&date2=1963&proxtext=vivian+smith&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1 (article showing she was the suffrage chair in 1917)



Vivian B. Smith