Women fought long and hard for the vote—before and after the passage of the 19th Amendment, which declares the right to vote “shall not be denied … on account of sex.” Diverse communities and organizations blazed the trail for equal voting rights across the nation. For many women, especially women of color, the fight didn’t end when the 19th Amendment went into effect on August 26, 1920. Yet the stories of these suffragists have often been overlooked.
To mark the centennial of the 19th Amendment, the Library of Congress, Smithsonian and National Archives are collaborating to bring these stories to you on social media. From today until August 26, you can follow weekday posts to learn voting-rights history drawn from all three institutions’ collections. You can also use our set of animated social media GIFs and Instagram stickers on your social media posts to mark the centennial.
Follow these accounts on social media to experience #19SuffrageStories:
Don’t just learn this history—make it your own and share it with friends. Add our ten new voting-inspired stickers to your Instagram stories. Don a historic suffrage sash in your selfie. Add the words of suffragists Ida B. Wells, Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin and Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee to your posts. To use the stickers, create an Instagram Story, click on the sticker icon, and search for #19SuffrageStories. You can also find GIFs of all the stickers through GIPHY.
Explore the Stories Behind the Stickers and Share Them on Social Media
This sticker is an illustrated version of the iconic women’s suffrage sash. Suffragists wore these to rallies, parades and public-speaking opportunities to get out their message. You can use this sticker to virtually wear a sash and show your support for the women who worked to win voting rights.
Cofounded by Mary Church Terrell, the National Association of Colored Women’s motto can be seen on this banner in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The organization promoted suffrage, education and other causes. “Lifting as we climb” represented a call for African American women to work for the “uplift” and empowerment of others in the African American community through suffrage, education and community service.
A modern interpretation of signs used by groups to promote civic engagement, this sticker was inspired by a 1956 photograph in the collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The African American women in this photograph were lined up along the Citizenship Education Project’s motorcade route encouraging voting and voter registration. Many African American women could not vote unimpeded until 1965 with the passage of the Voting Rights Act—long after the 19th Amendment went into effect.
More than 1,000 women joined picket lines outside the White House during 1917 to demand voting rights for women, as shown in this photograph from our collections. They wanted President Woodrow Wilson’s support of an amendment to the Constitution to grant women the vote. Their signs read, “Mr. President, what will you do for Woman Suffrage?” and “How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?” Though President Wilson often tipped his hat as he rode through the White House gates, police arrested the protestors. Between June and November, 218 protesters from 26 states were arrested and charged with “obstructing sidewalk traffic.”
A portrait of Ida B. Wells in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery inspired this sticker. Wells cofounded the Alpha Suffrage Club in Chicago in 1913 to advocate for women’s rights and to push for the election of African Americans. She also famously refused to march in a segregated section of a suffrage parade that same year in Washington, D.C. As an investigative journalist, she fought for civil rights, traveling the South and gathering records in a decades-long campaign against lynching that made its horrors known nationwide. Her quote, “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them,” comes from her book, “The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader.”
Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin championed American Indian rights. She often invoked American Indian women’s power within their communities in interviews with the press. In 1913, she marched with fellow lawyers in the Washington, D.C., suffrage parade. She was also a leader in the Society for American Indians, an organization that advocated for an act to make American Indian U.S. citizens. The Indian Citizenship Act, passed in 1924, helped some American Indian women gain voting rights, years after the passage of the 19th Amendment. When asked if she was a suffragist in 1914, Baldwin laughed. She asked the reporter, “Did you ever know that the Indian women were among the first suffragists, and that they exercised the right of recall?” This portrait is based on Baldwin’s photograph from her personnel file from when she worked for the Federal government. She chose to be photographed in traditional dress, a radical choice for the time. You can learn about Baldwin from the National Archives.
In the early 1900s, Chinese immigrants could not become naturalized citizens, but Mabel Ping-Hua Lee still advocated for voting rights for American women. Lee began writing and speaking publicly about women’s suffrage when she was a teenager. At age 16, she rode at the head of a 1912 New York suffrage parade. She later led a contingent of Chinese and Chinese American women in a New York City suffrage parade in 1917. Many women of Asian descent were prevented from becoming citizens and voting until the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed (1943) and the Immigration and Nationality Act was passed (1952). Her quote in this sticker comes from a speech she gave around 1915 arguing for gender equality in China. You can learn more about Lee from the National Archives.
When you add this “Votes for Women” pin to your selfie, you’re “wearing” a historic suffrage symbol from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. “It’s easy to dismiss buttons, stickers, t-shirts and giveaways as things that are silly,” said National Museum of American History curator Lisa Kathleen Graddy, “But they help us find people who think like we do.” See other examples of popular suffrage merch in this video.
Latina suffragists, including Adelina “Nina” Otero-Warren and Maria de Guadalupe Evangelina Lopez de Lowther, ran bilingual campaigns for the vote. Otero-Warren ensured materials were printed in both English and Spanish for the New Mexico chapter of the Congressional Union (later the National Woman’s Party). Lopez, head of her local College Equal Suffrage League, gave lectures in Spanish to ensure that the messages of the suffrage movement reached the Latino community in Los Angeles. Copies of Spanish-language suffrage materials are incredibly rare. We honor their contributions to the suffrage movement by re-creating pins encouraging Spanish-speakers to vote.
Use this sticker to tell friends and family to follow along! If you follow all 19 stories, you will learn why gold, white and purple were chosen to represent suffrage.
Make These Suffrage Stories Accessible to All
In addition, all month long you can join our 19th Amendment Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. Make 19 edits to Wikipedia pages throughout the month of August to help expand the coverage of the women’s suffrage movement online. Virtual trainings will be held every Tuesday and Thursday in August from 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. ET.
This story is cross-posted on the blogs of the Library of Congress, National Archives and Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative.
I do wish the 19 stories were available to read right on the Library of Congress pages as all stories that I read are. I do not use Twitter or instagram, and don’t intend to, I will miss what these stories have to tell. I am probably not alone.
We’re too old to learn are we. It was interesting to read about how it all started.
Thanks for these posts. I think you need to really direct folks to wikipedia to build these stories! And link wikipedia to this page! There were thousands that helped pass the 19th amendment. And 1920 was a different era than 2020.
I, too, wish the stories were being published on something besides social media.
Yes, will you please publish these stories on LoC pages? I don’t use Twitter or Instagram, either.
We must never forget the degradation and battles women felt and persevered until we won the right to vote. Many women suffered physical and emotional damage to their bodies, lost spouse and families but persevered to give us the priviledge of casting a vote. When we vote we should wear buttons with the faces of these women who battled the way for us to serve in congress and in our home states and cities.
I agree that these stories would be more fully accessible somewhere other than on Twitter or Instagram.
Hi Lynne (and others),
Thanks for writing. While no major institution can, as a practical matter, make all of its material available on all digital formats, I believe there ARE plans underway to get all of this campaign onto the Library’s main site.
My Mom was born on the 26th of August, 1911. Mom felt strongly that a woman was capable of a career and had the same rights as any Person. After High School 1929 She went to Nursing School, Brooklyn Jewish Hospital and received her R.N. To celebrate Mom booked herself passage on Bermuda Empress and enjoyed that beautiful Island. While working on the children’s ward a mural was painted of the Wind in the Willows characters by the books illustrator. The dedication was to be made by the First Lady of NY, Eleanor Roosevelt. The nurses drew straws to pick a chaperone to escort Mrs. Roosevelt through the days acctivities. It was Mom that spent a full day with a hero of hers. She told me about this in her 80s!
Two weeks after Pearl Harbor Mom enlisted. Served 4 years, ’42 to ’46 as a 1st Lt. She served on a POW Ward Stateside. She was a charter subscriber of Mother Jones News, League of Women’s Voters member, she worked the Polls and was a proud and outspoken Democrat and believed in Equal Rights! For All. In career of an OB/GYN Nurse she took a very strong position on a woman’s right to chose. Knowing her love of babies I asked her why. Mom explained simply, If you had any idea of the horrors we see in our office as a result of illegal abortion you’d be right there with me. So WONAC and NOW got my support. Six Weeks before her 93rd birthday she told my brother “Bill, I’ve had enough!” and passed peacefully in a week. I was holding her hand. In honor of my Mom I maintain a membership in NOW. I support a woman’s right to chose and stand with the Equal Rights Amendment. I Must add my Dad, a true old school gentleman was able to remain galant and respect Mom’s independence. Their partnership was equal though Dad was a Corporal in the State Nat’l Guard and Mom, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Dad said for the first few years of marriage he thought his arm was going to fall off from saluting Mom all the time! I’m so proud of my Mom. She was kind and giving and had enough love to give to her kids and our friends. I submit this comment in honor of my Mom, Beatrice Tananbaum Isenberg Aug.1911 July 2004
Is your agency able to hire pathway students to update to Wikipedia? Very cost effective hiring strategy for GS 1-5. College students are abundant in your region.
While I’m not opposed to viewing on social media I prefer to stay on the LOC site. Keep the traffic on your site and this will increase your data analytics for tracking. With more distance learning due to pandemic teachers will feel good knowing students are on your site but if you drive them to SM you’ve lost the opportunity to showcase LOC.
My grandmother was born in 1906, and lived on a farm outside Monee, Illinois. She told us she remembered watching her mother hitch up the horse and take the wagon into town, all by herself, to go vote for the first time.
What a great story!
Hi, I found your feature blog while researching 19th amendment centennial resources for a public library book display. The display will feature books for young readers. I recalled seeing a link to a quiz on the suffragettes, but I do not see it now. I’d like to print copies of it for the display for patrons to take, and it may guide them to this site. Am I mistaken about the quiz, and if not may I request someone send me a link.
Middleburg Library / Loudoun County Public Library
Let me ask to see if I can find out. I don’t recall remove any links to a story, but it’s possible this was one of our different blogs. Will let you know!
I’ve checked with our staff, from the person who filed the blog to the suffrage experts, and no one can recall a quiz or removing a link to anything. Wish I could be more help, but apparently this was from a different source.
Thanks so much for including us in your work/research,
One of our staffer spotted this, at the National Archives site on Instagram. Maybe this is it? https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17888387926624954/?hl=en