Palczewski Suffrage Postcard Archive in the News

The "Palczewski Suffrage Postcard Archive," a website created by Communication Studies Professor Catherine H. Palczewski, was featured in a Nov. 1, 2012 story by San Francisco-based Collector's Weekly.

The archive, developed with cards acquired by Palczewski and her partner, Arnie Madsen, Ph.D., over the last 15 years, documents the use of postcards during the women's suffrage movement in the U.S. and Great Britain.  As Palczewski notes on her website,

Woman suffrage advocates recognized the utility of the postcard as a propaganda device. In the United States, the majority of the postcards supporting woman suffrage contained real-photo images of the suffrage parades, verbal messages identifying the states that had approved suffrage, or quotations in support of extending the vote to women. However, the most visually evocative images in the United States, as in Great Britain, came not from postcards officially commissioned by woman suffrage groups, but from ones produced by commercial postcard publishers. Simply by tapping into prevailing ideology, postcard producers assisted anti-suffrage forces “almost incidentally” by creating "a public imagery of the female form” that used suffragists as “topical or humorous types.”

The historical postcard archive has served as a data source for several publications and presentations by Palczewski, many of them completed during her Spring 2011 Professional Development Assignment, when she completed the archive. Palczewski said the archive was inspired by a summer faculty institute on "Visualizing Research" sponsored by the Carver Foundation in 2008.


  • “The Male Madonna and the Feminine Uncle Sam: Visual Argument, Icons, and Ideographs in 1909 Anti-Woman Suffrage Postcards.” uncle sam suffragette postcardThe Quarterly Journal of Speech 91.4 (November 2005): 365-394. Reprinted in Readings in Argumentation, ed. Angela Aguayo and Tim Steffensmeier (State College, PA: Strata, Spring 2008) and in Readings in Rhetorical Criticism 4th edition, ed. Carl Burgchardt (State College, PA: Strata, 2009).
  • “Domesticating Repression: Responses to Suffrage Advocates’ Body Argument in Postcards Depicting Police and Suffrage Advocates’ Interactions.” In The Functions of Argument in Social Context. Ed. Dennis S. Gouran. Washington, DC: NCA, 2010. 365-374.
  • “When Body Argument Becomes Militant Argument.” In Reasoned Argument and Social Change. Ed. Robert C. Rowland. Washington, DC: NCA, 2011. 379-86.

Featured Presentations

  • Featured speaker, 13th Biennial Public Address Conference, “Taming Women's Embodied Argument: The Transgressive Potential of Suffrage Advocates’ Body Argument and Social Responses of Recuperation,” to be presented at the 13th Biennial Public Address Conference, “On Civic Learning: Rhetoric, Public Address, Political Division.” September 27-29, 2012, University of Memphis.
  • 2010-11 Rhetorical Leadership Lecturer, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, March 2011.
  • A lecture at UW-Madison and another to come in Spring 2013.

Conference Presentations

  • “Suffrage Protests’ ‘Emergency Claims’: Re-watching the Body Argument of U.S. Suffrage Activism,” presented at the 2012 National Communication Association Convention, Orlando, FL, November 14-18, 2012.
  • “Vulnerable Bodies, Emergency Claims and the Body Argument of the NWP,” presented at the 2012 National Communication Association Convention, Orlando, FL, November 14-18, 2012.
  • “When Body Argument Becomes Militant Argument,” presented at the 2011 AFA/NCA Biennial Conference on Argumentation, Alta, UT, July 2011.