On August 26, 1920, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the 19th amendment of the United States Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. Thanks to Congresswoman Bella S. Abzug, this landmark moment, and women’s continuous achievements and challenges on the path toward equality under the law are commemorated every August 26 on Women’s Equality Day.
As a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, a historic liberal arts college for women, I have a deep appreciation for women’s history. Therefore, it is with great enthusiasm that I share some background information on Women’s Equality Day and highlight resources from the Library of Congress collection related to the women’s suffrage movement.
In 1971, Congresswoman Abzug introduced H.J. Res 808 to designate August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. Although this joint resolution did not pass, in 1973 Congresswoman Abzug again introduced a bill for Women’s Equality Day. On August 16, 1973, the 93rd Congress passed H.J. Res. 52, which became Pub. L. 93-105. Every president since Richard Nixon has issued a proclamation designating August 26 as Women’s Equality Day. Nixon stated in his proclamation that he “firmly believed that women should not be denied equal protection of the laws of this Nation,” affirming his support for the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. President Obama addressed the continued struggle of women to earn equal pay for equal work and the importance of women having access to affordable health care, and protections against domestic and sexual violence in his 2015 proclamation.
The Law Library of Congress and the greater Library of Congress have some wonderful resources dedicated to women’s history and the women’s suffrage movement. For example, you can read about the history of women’s rights worldwide in the In Custodia Legis blog post, Women in History: Voting Rights and our Women’s History Month commemorative page, which links to the public laws and proclamations that designate March as Women’s History Month.
The Library of Congress also has fantastic images of the women who championed women’s voting rights in the collection, The Struggle for Women’s Suffrage. Additionally, the Library of Congress has over 500 images that document the work of the National Woman’s Party in the collection, Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman’s Party.
We invite you to view these resources today as we commemorate Women’s Equality Day!