The twenty-second annual convention of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association (NYSWSA) was held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, December 16–18, 1890 in Rochester. (Nineteenth-century practice was to use the singular, woman's; later practice was to use the plural, women's.)
After a morning executive committee session held at the Whitcomb House Hotel at 209 East Main Street (which served as the convention's headquarters), the public portion of the event opened with a plenary session held at First Universalist Church. It was chaired by nationally prominent reformer Lillie Devereux Blake. Jean Brooks Greenleaf, president of the Woman's Political Club of Rochester, greeted delegates, making reference to the influential 1848 convention, which had been held in Rochester just two weeks following the famed convention at Seneca Falls—which had first thrust woman's rights and the goal of woman suffrage onto the national stage. Abolitionist and sometime woman's rights campaigner Emily Howland was named to the convention's Credentials Committee, Resolutions Committee, and its Nomination Committee.
In the late afternoon, Susan B. Anthony gave the convention's keynote lecture at a gala reception held at the Chamber of Commerce offices, atop the Rochester Savings Bank building at 47 West Main Street. The Chamber donated the use of its space for this event. An estimated 600 persons attended the reception, among them D. J. Hill, president of the University of Rochester. Nationally prominent suffragist Anna Howard Shaw was among those who spoke, saying, in part: "The rights of women will never be freely accorded them at the polls. … If there is anything to be done for the enfranchisement of women, it can only be done by organized effort."
On Wednesday, December 17, the meeting reconvened at First Universalist. Anthony lectured again. She declared that "Temperance and other organizations are all right, but they will never bring about great results until the women who are their moving spirits are given the ballot. … I say now, as I have always said, that when we have the right to vote, then, and not until then, will our voices be heard in any movement we take up." Anthony then read a letter to the convention from Elizabeth Cady Stanton. A closing address was delivered by Shaw. Jean Brooks Greenleaf was elected president of NYSWSA, a post she would hold until the next time the association convened in Rochester, in 1896.
The final plenary session was followed by an executive session at the Whitcomb House, at which Anthony, Stanton, and Matilda Joslyn Gage were appointed honorary vice presidents of the NYSWSA. (Gage was unable to attend the convention as she was doing suffrage work in South Dakota.)
On Thursday, December 18, a concluding business meeting was held at the Whitcomb House.