The thirty-eighth annual convention of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association (NYSWSA) was held in Syracuse on Tuesday through Friday, October 16–19, 1906. (Nineteenth-century practice was to use the singular, woman's when referring to women as a class; later practice was to use the plural, women's.) The Yates Hotel was the convention's headquarters. Plenary sessions were held at the May Memorial Church at 472 James Street.
For the first time, a NYSWSA convention would proceed without the towering presence of Susan B. Anthony, who had died on March 13, 1906.
The convention began at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 16, with a nonpublic Executive Meeting at the Yates Hotel.
Delegates convened for the first plenary session at May Memorial Church at 2:00 p.m., to hear opening remarks by NYSWSA president Ella Hawley Crossett of Warsaw, New York, who presided. After the announcement of committee appointments, there followed a series of greetings by, among others, the presidents of the Onondaga County Political Equality Club (a local suffrage club serving the county in which Syracuse was located), the Syracuse Political Equality Club, and the Ka-na-te-na Club, a local women's organization. President of the Ka-na-te-na Club was Mrs. Edwin. S. Jenney, née Marie H. Saul, mother of convention speaker Julie Regula Jenney. After a response by Crossett, NYSWSA Vice President Harriet May Mills delivered a major report. This was followed by a concluding tribute to the late Susan B. Anthony and Association activists Eliza Wright Osborne, Emily Howland, Rachel Foster Avery, and others.
Even by the standards of NYSWSA conventions, this one had a most impressive lineup of speakers (in alphabetical order):
- Prominent suffragist and radical Rachel Foster Avery (1858–1919);
- Teacher and National American Woman Suffrage Association officer Mary Elizabeth Whitbeck Craigie of Buffalo (1853–1928);
- Sherwood activist and donor Emily Howland (1827–1929);
- Attorney and suffragist Julie Regula Jenney (1866–1947);
- Regional suffrage activist Harriet May Mills (1857–1936);
- Auburn suffrage campaigner and donor Eliza Wright Osborne (1829–1911);
- Physician, minister, and suffragist Anna Howard Shaw (1847–1919);
- Suffrage campaigner and pacifist Fanny Garrison Villard (1844–1928); and others.
The Syracuse Political Equality Club hosted a reception for all delegates at the Yates Hotel from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. that evening.
The session of Wednesday, October 17, began at May Church at 9:30 a.m. The morning session was devoted to business, with reading of the previous day's minutes, county reports, the report of the auditors (Osborne and Howland), and other committee reports. The afternoon session began at 2:00 p.m. and featured further reading of minutes, county reports, a prize essay by student Clara B. Crittenden, and "conferences" (breakout workshops) focusing on "methods of work" (such subjects as membership, program quality, and "how to increase the enthusiasm of members").
The evening session, which started at 8:00 p.m., featured major addresses. Craigie spoke on "Women and Legislation." Villard, daughter of famed journalist and abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison, spoke on "The Late Woman Suffrage Demonstration in England.") Nationally prominent suffrage leader Shaw—a perennial headliner at NYSWSA conventions—delivered the evening's keynote address.
Delegates reconvened at May Church at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, October 18. Again, the morning was devoted to business: reading of the previous day's minutes, committee reports, election of officers, and miscellaneous matters. The afternoon session began at 2:00 p.m. It was given over to the report of the Resolution Committee, presented by committee chair Clara H. Woodruff of Buffalo; a report by Mary T. L. Gannett on the Susan B. Anthony Memorial Building, then being planned at the University of Rochester; and the reports of miscellaneous committees and of the Young People's Clubs, a youth outreach program.
From 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, a reception was held for delegates, officers, and speakers at the home of Mrs. C. D. Mills and her daughter, NYSWSA officer Harriet May Mills. (C. D. B. Mills, an abolition and freethought activist and Harriet's father, had died in 1900.)
Delegates reconvened at May Church at 8:00 p.m. for the evening session. It featured addresses by Hornellsville suffragist and elected school board member Anna C. Etz; young suffragist Caroline Lexow, who spoke on "The Evolution of Practical Propaganda of Woman Suffrage in Relation to College Women"; and Jenney, Syracuse's first woman attorney, who spoke on "The Legal Status of Women: Fact and Theory." Avery delivered the evening's keynote, "The Progress of Woman Suffrage in Europe."
On Friday, October 19, the final plenary session at May Church began at 9:00 a.m. It included minutes of the previous day's meeting, discussion of constitutional amendments, and any unfinished business.
NYSWSA's thirty-eighth annual convention closed with an 11:00 a.m. Executive Meeting at the Yates Hotel.
Thanks to Roger Hiemstra and Timothy Binga for research assistance.