“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” – 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment recognized white women’s constitutional right to vote. Numerous states had already extended voting rights to women: Missouri women in March 1919 and Kansas women in 1912. The journey had been long and arduous and, for many women of color, the fight to exercise their voting rights was far from over. Passage of the amendment, however, forever changed the path of women in our nation.
Upcoming Free Virtual Local Events
August 6-27 – various dates and times
Multiple online events offered by the National Archives and Records Administration during the month of August for the public, students and educators. More information.
Thursday, August 6 – 11:00 am
Journey to the Ballot Box
Celebrating 100 years of the passage of the 19th Amendment and 55th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Come listen to five generations of stories about using the power of your voice and envisioning a more just future. Free with RSVP.
Wednesday, August 12 – 6:30 pm
National World War I Museum and Memorial
When Women Won the Right to Vote
How well do you know the 19th Amendment? When women achieved passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, they did not win the right to vote—despite repeated claims that they did. Just what, then, did the women’s suffrage amendment do? Join Dr. Lisa Tetrault, Associate Professor of History at Carnegie Mellon University and author of the prize-winning book, The Myth of Seneca Falls: Memory and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, 1848-1898, for a discussion of this often misinterpreted and misunderstood history. Discover how 1920 is part of a much larger and longer story about the pursuit of voting rights, a struggle that is today unfinished and ongoing. Presented in partnership with the National Archives at Kansas City and in conjunction with the exhibition, Votes & Voices. Free with RSVP.
Friday, August 14 – 10:00 am
Kansas City Museum
Pomp and Ceremony exhibit tour
Join curator Denise Morrison for a virtual tour of the Pomp and Circumstance exhibit which includes an original women’s suffrage banner. More information.
Tuesday, August 18 – 6:30 pm
Kansas City Public Library
Qualified Rights: Women’s Suffrage, Citizenship, and the 19th Amendment Reconsidered
One hundred years ago this month, women won their fight for the right to vote – though not all of them. Black women, who had pleaded as passionately for suffrage as they did for African Americans’ civil rights, welcomed the 1920 passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment as only a partial victory. Many Native and Asian Americans and other women of color were not granted citizenship and likewise kept at arm’s length from voting booths. University of Minnesota historian Sarah-Jane (Saje) Mathieu recalls and examines those revealing silences amid the celebration of the landmark constitutional amendment. The primary beneficiaries were, at first, white women and the small numbers of African American women in northern and western states in which there were no racial restrictions on voting. Most Blacks lived in the South, where Jim Crow laws kept men and women alike from casting ballots for decades afterward. Mathieu discusses the pitfalls, as well as the pinnacles, accompanying the 19th Amendment’s promise. Watch her online presentation. More information.
Thursday, August 27 – 6:30 pm
Kansas City Public Library
Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the extraordinary life of Helen Hamilton Gardner
At 23, while serving as the youngest school principal in the state, Alice Chenoweth was excoriated in Ohio’s newspapers in 1876 for having an affair with the state’s married commissioner of common schools. Rather than retreat in shame, she changed her name, moved to New York City, and spent the rest of her life challenging the double standards of gender. Helen Hamilton Gardner emerged as a key figure in the fight for women’s voting rights and, in the words of a fellow suffragist, “the most potent factor” in the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Marking the centennial of that equal rights milestone, award-winning historian and author Kimberly Hamlin examines the life and immense influence of the “Harriet Beecher Stowe of Fallen Women” in a discussion of her book Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener. As a writer and lecturer, Gardener crusaded for divorce reform and raising the age of sexual consent for girls (which in her time was 12 or younger in 38 states). She decried double standards of sexual morality and debunked scientists’ claims that women’s brains were inferior.
Most importantly, she got the ear of President Woodrow Wilson and other male politicians on the issue of granting women the right to vote. Watch her online presentation – a day after Women’s Equality Day on August 26 – can be watched live here. More information.
Saturday, August 29 – 6:30 pm
Kansas City Public Library
Strictly Speaking: Equal Rights Should Have No Deadline
How close are we to ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment? The question hangs anew over Congress. And the courts. A distinguished panel of officials, experts, and ERA activists assesses the decades-long effort to enact what would be the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, enshrining the principle of gender equality in our founding charter. Virginia became the 38th state to approve it in January, meeting the threshold for ratification, but the 1982 deadline set by Congress was long passed. The House voted in February to repeal the deadline. That measure has gone nowhere in the Senate. Further, five state have acted to rescind their ratification? Can they do that? The online event is co-presented by the Women’s Equality Coalition of Greater Kansas City. Watch it live here. More information.
Resources for Enrichment and Information
Women’s Suffrage Centennial Update – a huge array of resources, including events history, art, music and travel.
Johnson County Museum has a touchscreen exhibit at the Museum titled Women and the Vote. In addition a PDF of the exhibit is available for online viewing.
Regional Resources on Women’s Suffrage – this collection, part of the Kansas City Public Library’s Pendergast Years display, has great information on women’s suffrage in our region.
Kansas City Public Library has assembled a reading list of fiction and nonfiction books. They also have a fun coloring book that can be downloaded for your artistic pleasure: 19th Amendment Coloring Book
Celebrate Women’s Suffrage, but Don’t Whitewash the Movement’s Racism – this resource from the ACLU is an eye-opening story of the history of women’s suffrage.
Kansas State Historical Society has downloadable trading cards of famous Kansas personalities that helped women gain the right to vote.
National Archives has a virtual tour of the Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote exhibit available to walk through virtually.