Bay State Suffrage Festivals at Copley Plaza Hotel

1895 atlas map of Boston: Boston proper and Roxbury.
Bromley map of Boston and Roxbury, 1895.

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, Boston Public Library

Quick Facts
Fairmont Copley Plaza
Site of Bay State Suffrage Festivals
Fairmont Copley Plaza

Starting in 1913, the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA) hosted several annual Bay State Suffrage Festivals at the Copley Plaza Hotel. Held each fall, the festivals lasted at least two days and consisted of a full schedule of programs, including games, speeches, concerts, fashion shows, and dances. Suffragists representing MWSA chapters from across the state organized stalls with suffrage materials, refreshments, pre-ordered goods, and home-made crafts.1

The festivals occurred in the beautiful ballroom of the Copley Plaza Hotel. A 1915 newspaper complimented the space: "The ballroom suite is very attractively decorated for the festival. Yellow, the suffrage color, prevails, and with the festoons of laurel, makes a charming ensemble."2

Looking down onto ballroom with stalls arranged through the room. Signs above each stall lined with laurel.

Bay State Suffrage Festival, ca. 1915-1917.(Credit: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.)

Most of the festivals fundraised for women’s suffrage efforts in the state; however, in 1914 the MWSA split the proceeds of the event with the American Red Cross to help Europeans after the outbreak of the first World War.3

These successful festivals served as a larger version of the popular suffrage bazaars, the first of which had occurred at Boston’s Music Hall in 1870.


  1. “Many Attractive Features Offered,” Boston Globe, October 26, 1913; “Festival of Woman Suffrage Association,” Boston Globe, November 15, 1914; “Suffrage Festival Opens,” Boston Globe, November 13, 1916.
  2. “Given in Aid of Suffrage,” Boston Globe, October 21, 1915.
  3. “Festival of Woman Suffrage Association,” Boston Globe, November 15, 1914.

Boston National Historical Park

Last updated: January 22, 2024