Sonoma County 2020 Women's Suffrage Project
The 19th Amendment (1920) to the Constitution of the United States provides men and women with equal voting rights. The amendment states that the right of citizens to vote "shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."
On May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives passed the amendment, and 2 weeks later, the Senate followed on June 4, 1919. When Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920, the amendment passed its final hurdle of obtaining the agreement of three-fourths of the states. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the ratification on August 26, 1920, changing the face of the American electorate forever.
More dates to celebrate .... California passed the Women's Right to Vote in an election in October 1911. Women cast their first ballots in California in January 1912. On November 1, 1919, California became the 18th State to vote in favor of the 19th Amendment. Look for our History and Education Committee to start programs on November 1, 2019.
Learn more by visiting the National Women's History Museum's Timeline of the Suffrage Movement
Suffrage means having the right to vote. Suffragists are people who advocate for the right to vote and the term became associated almost exclusively with women after African American men won the right to vote in the 15th Amendment. The suffix -ette is used to mean something small of diminutive. In Britain, the term Suffragette was accepted by some and used widely. In America, Suffragists were not having anything to do with being referred to as diminutive.
Ironically, the term Suffragette is also associated with fighting for the the right to vote by any means including civil disobedience.
We are so glad you asked! The Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library is a great place to discover more about local Women's History. And, due to the efforts of many volunteers over the past year - history of local Suffragists is going to be even easier to learn. Look for more information about this to be posted on our social media pages and on our calendar of events soon.
The Petaluma Museum Association is also seeking photographs and other mementos you may have of local suffragists - maybe a family member was involved in the local suffrage movement. Contact the museum if you are interested in loaning your artifacts for an upcoming exhibit at the Museum during the summer months in 2020.
And, be sure to check out the National Women's History Alliance for more resources.
Unfortunately, it is true some women were left out. Women of Color including: Black Women, Indigenous Women and a growing population of immigrants were left behind to fight for their rights in the years ahead. This stride forward for some Women and their right to vote was incomplete and contained a concession that is still felt by many today as voter suppression, discrimination, economic disparity, violence and much more. Thank you to the efforts of everyone on our Social Justice and Advocacy Committee we are striving to tell a complete story including these challenging narratives and to create a diverse celebration where all feel welcome to participate.
Sojourner Truth (born Isabella Baumfree, c. 1797 to November 26, 1883)
Sojourner was an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist best-known for her speech on racial inequalities, "Ain't I a Woman?", delivered extemporaneously in 1851 at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention.
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