Ruth Hanna McCormick was a suffragist and advocate for the rights of women and children. She actively campaigned for the vote for women from 1913 until the amendment was ratifed by the states in 1920. In 1913, Illinois women won the right to vote in municipal elections and for presidential electors and on bond issues. But oddly enough they did not win the right to vote for Congress, Governor, other statewide offices, or members of the General Assembly, until the 19th Amendment was ratified by three-quarters of the states in 1920. Illinois was one of the first three states to ratify the national vote for women amendment on June 10, 1919 and tied with the legisaltures of Michigan and Wisconsin on that day.
Ruth was not the the first woman to serve in Congress from Illinois. Winifred Mason-Huck was elected in a special 1923 election to succeed her father Rep. William Mason but Winifred only served a few months and did not win renomination in 1924. Ruth not only served a full term in the House but she was also the first woman of either party to win a statewide election in Illinois when she became an at-large Member of Congress as a Republican in 1928. She campaigned in 99 of the 102 Illinois counties. There have been women representatives in Congress from Illinois in every decade since the 1920s.
The women pioneers from Illinois in the legislature included Lottie Holman O'Neill of Downers Grove who was first elected to the House in 1922. Florence Fifer Bohrer of Bloomington was the daughter of Gov. Joe Fifer and was the first woman elected to the state senate in 1924. But Lottie served longer than any other woman in a state legislature, 1923 to 1951 in the House with two years off and 1951 to 1963 in the Senate for a total of 38 years in legislative service. Lottie, Florence, Winifred, and Ruth were all Republicans.
Ruth Hanna McCormick came from two politically-powerful families and was owner and publisher of the Rockford Register-Republic and the Rockford Morning Star starting in 1930 during a time when she lived in Byron, Illinois in Ogle County.