What's the big deal about the 19th amendment? In addition to giving women the right to vote, it was an integral moment in the civil rights and equality movements. Victory took decades and few of the initial supporters lived to see their dream realized. Ratified 90 years ago today, we celebrate our freedoms and those who inspired them.
Our 19th amendment guarantees, "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." Tennessee provided the requisite approval of three-fourths of the states, being the 36th state to ratify the amendment.
24 year-old legislator Harry Burn tipped the scales because he changed his vote at the request of his mother, Phoebe (Febb) Ensminger Burn, in the following note, altering our lives for the better. (And proving that it is a good thing to listen to your mother).
Hurrah, and vote for suffrage! Don’t keep them in doubt. I notice some of the speeches against. They were bitter. I have been watching to see how you stood, but have not noticed anything yet.
Don’t forget to be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt put the “rat” in ratification.
- Votes for Women: The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited edited by Jean H. Baker
- Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull by Barbara Goldsmith
- International Encyclopedia of Women's Suffrage by June Hannam, Mitzi Auchterlonie, and Katherine Holden
- How the Vote was Won: Woman Suffrage in the Western United States, 1868-1914 by Rebecca J. Mead
- Woman Suffrage and the Origins of Liberal Feminism in the United States, 1820-1920 by Suzanne M. Marilley
- The Susan B. Anthony Women's Voting Rights Trial: A Headline Court Case by Judy Monroe
- Not for Ourselves Alone. The story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony: An Illustrated History by Geoffrey C. Ward based on the documentary by Ken Burns
- One Woman One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement edited by Marjorie Spruill Wheeler
- With All Her Might: The Life of Gertrude Harding, Militant Suffragette by Gretchen Wilson
Though not available for checkout, Winning the Vote: The Triumph of the American Woman Suffrage Movement by Robert P.J. Cooney, Jr. in collaboration with the National Women's History Project, housed in the Western History and Genealogy department combines primary sources such as photographs, cartoons, posters, and newspaper articles to create a beautiful window into history.
Thanks so much for the reminder of this important date.
We tend to take these steps forward for granted, forgetting how hard and how long people worked to improve conditions for the rest of the populace (Us!). Now, I've gotta go check out one of those books!