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June 10, 2019

Brown v. Phillips

Brown v. Phillips
71 Wis 239 (1888)

Olympia Brown led the Wisconsin Women’s Suffrage Association from 1884 to 1912. Beginning in 1886, women had been granted a limited right to vote in “any election pertaining to school matters.” The law headed for a test with the spring election of 1887. Olympia Brown, along with many other women, voted in her local municipal election for the offices of mayor, city clerk, comptroller, alderman, and supervisor. Brown argued that these offices were pertinent to “school matters” and were therefore permissible for her to vote on. When she was not allowed to vote, Brown sued the city.

While the circuit court agreed with Brown’s position, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ultimately ruled against Olympia Brown. You can learn more about this case on the Wisconsin Court System’s summary of famous cases: Brown v. Phillips and others.

We have the Supreme Court briefs for this famous case in our library, and you can read them online in two parts: Brown v. Phillips Part One, Brown v. Phillips Part Two.

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