Youngest parader in a New York City suffragist parade, May 1912.
Youngest parader in a New York City suffragist parade, May 1912.Library of Congress
Youngest parader in a New York City suffragist parade, May 1912.
Youngest parader in a New York City suffragist parade, May 1912.
Inez Milholland Boissevain, wearing a white cape, seated on a white horse at the National American Woman Suffrage Association parade.
Inez Milholland Boissevain, wearing a white cape, seated on a white horse at the National American Woman Suffrage Association parade.
Suffrage hikers who took part in the suffrage hike from New York City to Washington, D.C. which joined the Mar. 3, 1913 National American Woman Suffrage Association parade.
Suffrage hikers who took part in the suffrage hike from New York City to Washington, D.C. which joined the Mar. 3, 1913 National American Woman Suffrage Association parade.
Hedwig Reicher as Columbia at the Mar. 3, 1913 Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C.
Hedwig Reicher as Columbia at the Mar. 3, 1913 Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C.
National American Woman Suffrage Association parade held in Washington, D.C., Mar. 3, 1913 showing (left to right) Mrs. Russell McLennan, Mrs. Althea Taft, Mrs. Lew Bridges, Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson, Alberta Hill and Miss F. Ragsdale.
National American Woman Suffrage Association parade held in Washington, D.C., Mar. 3, 1913 showing (left to right) Mrs. Russell McLennan, Mrs. Althea Taft, Mrs. Lew Bridges, Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson, Alberta Hill and Miss F. Ragsdale.
Margaret Vale Howe, a participant in the suffrage parade in Washington, D.C., March 1913.
Margaret Vale Howe, a participant in the suffrage parade in Washington, D.C., March 1913.
A Women's Suffrage Parade in Long Island, 1913. Mrs. John Ocksbury marching as a drummer and Miss Grace Collins marching as a fire department captain.
A Women's Suffrage Parade in Long Island, 1913. Mrs. John Ocksbury marching as a drummer and Miss Grace Collins marching as a fire department captain.
Suffragists Susan Walker Fitzgerald, Emma Bugbee, Maggie Murphy and Harriot Stanton Blatch at a women's suffrage parade in New York City, July 30, 1913.
Suffragists Susan Walker Fitzgerald, Emma Bugbee, Maggie Murphy and Harriot Stanton Blatch at a women's suffrage parade in New York City, July 30, 1913.
Mrs. Suffern wearing a sash and carrying a sign that says "Help us to win the vote," surrounded by a crowd of men and boys at a Women's Suffrage Parade in 1914.
Mrs. Suffern wearing a sash and carrying a sign that says "Help us to win the vote," surrounded by a crowd of men and boys at a Women's Suffrage Parade in 1914.
Women's Suffrage picket parade in Washington, D.C., 1917.
Women's Suffrage picket parade in Washington, D.C., 1917.
Women's Suffrage picket parade in Washington, D.C., 1917.
Women's Suffrage picket parade in Washington, D.C., 1917.
Mrs. Charles Lewis Tiffany, née Katrina Brandes Ely, carrying a flag in suffrage parade, New York City, Oct. 27, 1917.
Mrs. Charles Lewis Tiffany, née Katrina Brandes Ely, carrying a flag in suffrage parade, New York City, Oct. 27, 1917.
Youngest parader in a New York City suffragist parade, May 1912.
Library of Congress
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Colorized Photos From Early Suffrage Marches Bring Women's History to Life

Though the dedication of March to the topic of women's history is now observed in the U.S., it grew out of a week that grew out a day: International Women's Day, which is observed on March 8. On or around that day, for more than a century, women around the world have marched for what they believe in. In 1909, at the original such march, it was for better working conditions. This year, the day will be an occasion for the movement associated with January's post-Inauguration Women's March protests to continue to make its voice heard.

But during the first decades of the 20th century, there was one particular cause that drew many American women to take to the streets: the right to vote.

Images of suffrage marches from the decade before the 19th Amendment enfranchised women, from the Library of Congress' collection of early news photographs, capture that important moment in time. For this year's International Women's Day, TIME commissioned freelance photo editor Sanna Dullaway — who has previously worked with photos of the Pearl Harbor naval base, Queen Elizabeth II and much more — to colorize several of the images from that history.

In this case, the colors are particularly important: the flags and outfits of early suffragists (and supporters of progress for women today) used colors to represent the ideals they valued. Purple for loyalty, green for hope, gold for light and life — and white, one of the most commonly seen colors in the suffrage movement, for purity of both person and purpose.

Sanna Dullaway is a photo editor based in Sweden. See more of her work here.

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