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Women’s Suffrage, Wisconsin, and the 19th Amendment

Learning

Celebrating 100 years of women’s right to vote    

American Girl encourages girls to explore history and use their voices to make a difference—and celebrating women’s right to vote is an excellent way to further that goal. Between June 2019 and August 2020, the U.S. is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. Here are some quick facts you can share with your girl to celebrate the anniversary together:    

  • By 1913, women had been working for suffrage for over 50 years. To bring national attention to the cause, suffragist leader Alice Paul organized the first suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. on March 3, 1913. More than 8,000 protestors marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to demand voting rights for women—marking a significant turning point for the cause.
  • Wisconsin—home state of American Girl, founded by Pleasant Rowland in 1986—was the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment on June 10, 1919. Special messenger David G. James, father of Wisconsin suffragist leader Ada James, hand-delivered the ratification papers to Washington, D.C., beating Illinois to be the first by mere minutes. 
  • Pleasant Rowland and American Girl author Valerie Tripp purposefully set original historical character Samantha Parkington’s story in 1904—a time of enormous change for women. In Samantha’s stories, her Aunt Cornelia gives a stirring speech at a suffrage rally that sways Samantha’s old-fashioned Grandmary to support women’s right to vote.    
Samantha Parkinson Book illustrartion
  • Thirty-six states needed to ratify the 19th Amendment in order for it to be approved. Tennessee was the 36th state to ratify on August 18, 1920, and women officially won the right to vote on August 26, 1920. It would take another 64 years for all states to ratify.
  • The women’s suffrage movement wasn’t a completely unified one, and women of color often faced discrimination. From meetings to marches, African American activists, like Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Mary Church Terrell, fought for voting rights while also fighting racism. Despite the racial divisions, black suffragists were collective in their courage in the fight for equality.
  • The first election U.S. women could vote in was the 1920 presidential election between Warren G. Harding and James Cox. Samantha would have been 25.

  • Even after the ratification of the 19th amendment, many women of color continued to face voting barriers like poll taxes, literacy tests, and citizenship discrimination. It took several decades of continued activism to achieve milestones like the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibited racial discrimination in voting.

Events, exhibits, and celebrations marking the Women’s Suffrage Centennial are taking place across the country, including a public event at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison on June 10. The Madison event will feature the unveiling of the original 19th Amendment and an American Girl display that highlights the women’s suffrage movement in Samantha’s stories. To find out about activities celebrating the passage of the 19th Amendment happening in your state, visit www.WomensVote100.org.

©2019 American Girl. All American Girl marks are trademarks of American Girl.   

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