Happy 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment!

August 18, 2020


Today we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the journey of voters’ rights activists in the campaign for women’s suffrage. Here’s a selection of commemorative resources available online and in SLL’s collection that offer a closer look at the fight for women’s suffrage.

The 19th Amendment prohibits denying U.S. citizens their right to vote based on their sex. The first section of the Amendment guarantees this right, and the second section guarantees Congress’s power to enforce the Amendment through federal legislation. While the ratification of the 19th Amendment guarantees voting rights regardless of the voter’s sex, the fight for universal suffrage continued on into the twentieth century for those who were disenfranchised based on their race, citizenship status, or ability. 

Women's Suffrage in the United States: A Brief History

Seventy-two years after the first woman's rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified as law on August 26th, 1920. At that historic convention held in 1848, suffrage and abolition activists such as Frederick Douglass and Elizabeth Cady Stanton joined over three hundred attendees to discuss women’s rights to vote.

The “Susan B. Anthony” Amendment was first introduced to Congress in 1877, but the Civil War, 1st World War, and efforts to abolish slavery were prioritized over women’s suffrage. After years of protests, demonstrations, and unsuccessful legislative efforts, the Susan B. Anthony Amendment was reintroduced and approved by the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate on May 21st and June 4th, 1919, respectively.

The Amendment moved to state approval, with Michigan and Wisconsin being the first states to ratify the Amendment on June 10th, 1919. After reaching the goal of acceptance by three-fourths of the states with the ratification by Tennessee on August 18th, 2020, the 19th Amendment was certified as law by the U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby on August 26th, 1920. 

Online Resources

We've seen a lot of great educational materials, digital exhibits, articles, and other resources from other organizations celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment today. Here are a few of our favorites:

Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote
The Library of Congress has created a digital exhibition to honor the work of activists who campaigned to secure women’s right to vote.

From the Serial Set: Susan B. Anthony and the National Woman Suffrage Association
The Law Library of Congress's blog In Custodia Legis has a great post on the 19th-century women's suffrage movement.

US Women's Suffrage Timeline 1648 to 2016
The National Park Service has provided a detailed timeline of suffrage efforts throughout U.S. history, beginning long before the Seneca Falls Convention and continuing today.

The 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative
This project from the American Bar Association and other partners with quizzes, games, and other activities commemorating and celebrating the Amendment’s centennial anniversary.

Library Resources

Here are a few digital resources available at SLL on the history of women's suffrage in the United States.

Woman Suffrage and Politics: The Inner Story of the Suffrage Movement by Chapman Catt Carrie and Nettie Rogers Shuler. William S. Hein & Co., Inc. 2005. This e-book explores the question of why American women received the right to vote much later than women in other democratic countries.

The Myth of Seneca Falls: Memory and the Women’s Suffrage Movement by Tetrault, Lisa. UNC Press. 2014. This e-book offers a different perspective on the narrative of the suffrage movements’ birth as rooted in the Seneca Falls convention; the author presents evidence to argue that this narrative was constructed by suffrage activists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucretia Mott to internally unify the suffrage movement while excluding certain activists, especially women of color, from the women's suffrage movement.

Proceedings of the Annual Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (1893-1920). Ed. Stanton, Elizabeth Cady and Susan B. Anthony. Through HeinOnline, you can access the notes and minutes of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from their annual convention meetings.

Stay tuned for our post next week on the Texas ratification of the 19th Amendment!

COVID-19 in America: Response, Issues, and Law from HeinOnline

19th Amendment Anniversary Post Part 2

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