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100th Anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

August 18, 2020
Kris Kasianovitz
Text of the 19th Amendment

"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.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

-Text of the Nineteenth Amendment

On August 18, 1920, the state of Tennessee became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the 19th Amendment. Congress passed House Joint Resolution No. 1 (H. J. Res. 1) on June 4, 1919. It took another year and almost two more months for the required three-fourths of state legislatures to ratify the amendment before it could be added to the Constitution of the United States. The National Park Service 19th Amendment by State guide provides a good overview of the ratification by states and territories. Prior to the ratification of this amendment, some states and territories had already granted women full or partial voting rights for president only. 

The 19th Amendment was a significant step in guaranteeing the right to vote for women. However, women of color were not fully recognized or enfranchised with its passage. Voter suppression tactics, like poll taxes and literacy tests, already in use by states since the passage of the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed the right to vote to all male US citizens regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”, kept non-white women from voting.

To help you learn more about the history of the 19th Amendment and Women’s Suffrage, Ben Stone, the Library’s British and American History Curator, and Regina Roberts, Anthropology & Archaeology, Communication & Journalism, Feminist Studies, and Lusophone Africa Librarian, James Jacobs, US Government Information Librarian, and Kris Kasianovitz, State, Local and International Government Information Librarian have put together the following guide on key resources available from the Library’s online collections. 

The essay by Ellen Carol DuBois essay, Women’s Rights, Suffrage, and Citizenship, 1789–1920 in The Oxford Handbook of American Women's and Gender History, provides a helpful overview of the background of the movements leading to the passage of the 19th Amendment, as well as touching on the continuing fight for suffrage for women not recognized to vote under the 19th amendment, including African-American women, a subject treated at length in The 19th Amendment: An Important Milestone in an Unfinished Journey op-ed essay in the New York Times, and in an important three part series in the Stanford News (with contributions from Stanford Professors Estelle Freedman, Rabia Belt, and Pamela Karlan).  Dubois’ essay is expanded in her recent 2020 book:  Suffrage : women's long battle for the vote

For primary sources, a number of databases available to Stanford users provide deep access to a variety of essential documents.  The Struggle for women's rights, organizational records, 1880-1990 (ProQuest)  contains the digitized records of three important women's rights organizations: the National Woman's Party, the League of Women Voters, and the Women's Action Alliance. Originally a committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), the National Woman's Party (NWP) was founded in 1913 when Alice Paul and her colleagues broke away from NAWSA in dissent over strategy and tactics.  

A second database in the same series, Women's studies manuscript collections from the Schlesinger Library : voting rights, national politics, and reproductive rights,  provides access  to primary sources relating to “the fight for voting rights for women at the national, regional, and local levels. The papers of key national leaders like Julia Ward Howe, Anna Howard Shaw, and Matilda Gage are included. Equally important are the papers of lesser known state and local leaders like Catharine Waugh McCulloch of Illinois, Olympia Brown of Wisconsin, and Nellie Nugent Somerville of Mississippi, as well as state organizations.

In addition to the Voting Rights papers, this module also includes records on women involved in national politics, such as Mary Dewson and Jeannette B. Rankin.” Proquest also includes the Congressional Publications database which has many historic hearings and Congressional documents and reports on the Suffrage movement as well as this Congressional Research Service (CRS) report “Woman’s Suffrage: A Factsheet” (which is also freely available from EveryCRSReport.com).

 A rich body of newspaper content related  to the movement for Women’s suffrage can be found  in Accessible Archives’ eight part module on Women’s  Suffrage, featuring runs of newspaper title such as The New Citizen (1909-1912),  The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), and The Remonstrance (1890-1913), among other titles.  

Everyday Life and Women in America, 1800-1920, contains a rich array of primary sources from the collections of the  New York Public Library  and the  Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, including titles such as the Woman Suffrage Year Book (1917).  Similarly, Women and social movements in the United States 1600-2000  provides a rich array of primary source content, including primary documents and review essays.  It also includes the newspaper, Women’s era, a newspaper for and by African American women.  

 The  Library of  Congress has assembled a wonderful collection of links to digital collections and individual documents within its vast holdings related to the 19th Amendment, including the Carrie Chapman Catt Papers and extensive links to newspaper articles found within the Chronicling America project—a vast collection of digitized newspaper content from across the United States.  LOC has also created specific guides for the study of the amendment itself, as has the National Archives of the United States in a guide to Woman suffrage and the 19th Amendment.

 The following Stanford Library special collections include suffrage or women’s rights content: 

Women's rights poster collection, 1976-1977. (Some digitized content)

Collection includes images of historic feminist protests and leaders, images of the 1970s women's movement, images of women in non-traditional jobs, Black women leaders, images pertaining to changing sex roles, and a series on women of the American Revolution. Groups and/or publishers represented include Women's Equity Action League, Sex Desegregation Assistance Center of the Southwest (Texas), Documentary Photo Aids, and the U. S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. This collection also includes a set of 8 photographs and a poster of men in the nurturing role published by the Women's Action Alliance (New York).

Clelia Mosher (Notebooks have entire sections on Women’s suffrage movement:)

Clelia Mosher is well known for her 1892  survey of collegiate women regarding their sexual practices and attitudes around reproduction and women’s health and athletic abilities. Her collection also includes writings, diaries, biographical and genealogical material, and scrapbook of suffrage movement flyers, announcements and newspapers articles. 

Celia Mosher Collection, Image of a notebook

 

Author

Photo of Kris Kasianovitz, 2016 August

Kris Kasianovitz

Head, Social Sciences Resource Group
Government Information Librarian, State, Local and International Documents
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