BY PAM ELAM
State-by-state woman suffrage celebrations have begun and these efforts will lead up to the 100th Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on August 26, 2020. The 72-year (1848 to 1920) national battle to achieve “Votes for Women” played out in every State Capitol as well as in Congress. State governments, women’s groups and history organizations are urged to help tell the suffrage story in their states and to honor the women from their areas who led the fight for the vote. Hopefully, all of us can plan “Votes for Women” events and programs in our states and identify sites relevant to the Woman Suffrage struggle which could help create a nationwide Woman Suffrage Trail.
Here are some examples of the great work being done in the States to celebrate Woman Suffrage Centennials: Shanna Stevenson, the author of Women’s Votes, Women’s Voice: The Campaign for Equal Rights in Washington and Coordinator of the Washington Women’s History Consortium, reports that Washington State is winding up a two year commemoration of the 100th anniversary of permanent women’s suffrage. Shanna said that “the male electorate of the state voted on November 8, 1910 to amend the Washington State Constitution for women’s right to vote. The commemoration, headed by the Washington Women’s History Consortium, a part of the Washington State Historical Society, included a major traveling exhibit, three smaller panel exhibits, programs, special curriculum, a commemorative marker, and a regional women’s history conference. Two days of culminating events were held in Olympia with a tea at the State Capital Museum sponsored by AAUW on November 7 and events at the capitol campus on November 8.”
Billed as a “Day of Jubilation,” the public program on November 8 was a partnership with the Washington Office of the Secretary of State and the Interagency Committee of State Employed Women which featured performances, music, speeches, a court re-enactment and a presentation of special banners from Washington to delegates from the next nearby women’s suffrage states—California (1911) and Oregon (1912). The Day of Jubilation was funded by private donations and supported by state-wide women’s groups including the League of Women Voters, AAUW and Business and Professional Women. To see highlights of the events and programs as well as to find more information about the suffrage centennial and women in Washington, visit www.washingtonwomenshistory.org and contact Shanna Stevenson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-586-0171.
In California, Dr. Kimberly Salter, Co-Chair of California Women Suffrage Centennial, reports that plans are underway for events throughout the state during March of 2011, building up to the centennial celebration in Sacramento on Oct 8 – 10. A website is being developed and those seeking more information can contact Dr. Salter at 949-230-1169. Century of Action: Oregon Women Vote, 1912-2012 is coordinating the celebration of the centennial of woman suffrage in Oregon. Janice Dilg, Project Director of Century of Action: Oregon Women Vote, said that “Oregon has the distinction of placing the issue of women’s enfranchisement on the ballot more than any other state – five times before the referendum finally passed in 1912. To honor our foremothers and fathers’ dedication to extending equal rights to all of Oregon’s citizens, we are planning for a yearlong celebration around the state. Our Secretary of State has dedicated the historical insert of the biennial state almanac, the Oregon Blue Book, to an illustrated overview of woman suffrage. There will be several exhibits around the state, the Oregon Historical Quarterly will publish a special edition, and a series of public programs and performances are in the works. We will launch our new website in March 2011, but you can learn about Oregon suffrage history, a Century of Action plans, and our centennial partners at our current blog: www.oregonsuffrage.org. ” For more information contact Janice Dilg at email@example.com.