Making Democracy Work

Women suffrage centennial

Women's Suffrage Centennial August 2020

Suffrage Centennial

In the months between Congress passing the 19th amendment (June 4, 1919) and the 36th state ratifying the amendment, suffragists worked tirelessly to make women's suffrage the law of the land.

On Sept. 10, 1919, the New Hampshire legislature voted to ratify the 19th amendment, becoming the 16th state to do so. Our thanks to Governor Chris Sununu for his proclamation of Sept. 10, 2019, as New Hampshire Women's Suffrage Day.

Most of the LWVNH board met in front of the State House to display the proclamation. The flag is the National Woman's Party banner, made by Alice Paul who added a star each time a new state ratified the amendment.

Over the course of 2019-2020, this webpage will highlight some historic events in that process. See also the new website created by a loose coalition (including League) of organizations commemorating women's right to vote:

(left) Each time a state ratified the amendment, Alice Paul sewed a new star on the National Woman's Party banner. NH House ratified on Sept. 9, 1919; the NH Senate on Sept. 10.

On August 26, 1920, the 19th amendment became law. (right) Alice Paul unfurls the ratification banner. (Library of Congress photos)

On June 6, 2019, Rep. Debra Altschiller gave this short speech on the floor of the NH House, in honor of the suffragists.

June 15, 2019, LWVNH President Liz Tentarelli presented this 5 minutes quick history of the suffrage movement and formation of the League of Women Voters. Read the talk here. Progressive Summit conference in Manchester NH.

Headed to Washington DC anytime between now and fall 2020? Be sure to visit the special "Votes for Women" exhibits at the Library of Congress, American History Museum, and other sites.

Presentations related to suffrage

Check out the website, which lists events around the state related to the centennial of women's suffrage. It includes a Votes for Women powerpoint and talk, the Lucy Stone presentation, and the Hutchinson Family Singers historic suffrage and abolition songs revival.

Many of these programs are free unless otherwise stated.

Also on the website are various articles about the suffrage movement.

Commemorate, Celebrate, Motivate--planning local events

"Her Flag" is an artistic project celebrating women's suffrage. The event held in Concord on October 12, 2019, was covered by the Concord Monitor. Read the article here.

League members Janet W and Sara M with the the primary artist on left and NH artist who designed our state's strip on the right. Here they hold the replica of Alice Paul's ratification banner. See more photos of the new "Her Flag" on our FB page:

When embarking on your own unit or local League's planning begin with the concept of Commemorate + Celebrate + Motivate to help you frame your efforts. In addition, there are three pivotal dates that can help you plan your celebration:

  • February 14th: in 1920 this marked the formation of the League of Women Voters, when the National American Woman's Suffrage Association voted to change its name to League of Women Voters and begin their work of helping women learn about issues and how to vote.
  • August 26th: In 1920 this marked the 19th amendment becoming part of our federal Constitution.
  • Fall 2020 Elections--Let the suffrage movement inspire us all to Get Out The Vote.

Focusing on these dates will help to ensure that you adequately address both the importance of the anniversary of the League formation and the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

We've brainstormed a variety of ideas for how you might celebrate and have divided them into the following categories: Displays - Events - Media - Resources - Collaborations - Books/Movies


In the form of posters, display cases, banners, or photo shows. These can be placed at historical museums, libraries, schools, and other locations.

Photos, archival research, costumes, artifacts, etc.

The National Archives has some interesting information on Women's Suffrage. Here are two links to explore.


Suffrage-related events that are already planned are listed at: Liz Tentarelli's presentation on the history of Women's Suffrage was presented in Peterborough on 9/25 and the Mount Washington Valley on 10/29. More coming up; see the events page at Contact Liz directly if you are interested in hosting her in your area. The above website encourages you to post your community's suffrage-related events. It's also a good site to check prior to booking your event so you know what else is happening in and around your chosen date.

We are recommending that you consider putting together some sort of group or float for your area's July 4th or Memorial Day parades. Whether simply wearing white with "Votes for Women" sashes and carrying posters, or doing something more elaborate with a float and period costumes...simply participating would have an impact.

An event featuring actress Sheryl Faye portraying Susan B. Anthony was discussed. We'll post more details later.

An event of some type (rally, speakers, entertainers?) could be a significant and memorable event to present on/or near August 26th, 2020, on the steps of the New Hampshire State House in Concord.


Explore ways to publicize your events or simply to share the Centennial itself and its historical significance. News articles. We are hoping that as articles are written by various members, we'll be able to share the content here for others to use themselves.

PSAs: If you are having an event, check with your local radio about doing a public service announcement.

Press Releases for any events you might be planning will help to get the local newspapers/radios/TV stations interested.


Where to find sashes and/or make your own: Or buy yellow wide grosgrain ribbon and with a permanent marker write Votes for Women on it. About 1 and yds should work for most of us.


Sometimes the best celebrations occur with a partner through collaboration. Here are some potential partners that may welcome helping to put on a presentation or setting up a display.

Libraries Theaters Schools Rotary and Kiwanis Newspapers Other Non-profits Local Historical Societies


The Woman's Hour (by Elaine Weiss, about ratification)

Why They Marched (2019, by Susan Ware)(Note: she will be speaking at the Monadnock Lyceum on Aug. 16)

The Women's Suffrage Movement (2019, ed. Sally Roesch Wagner)

Failure Is Impossible (Susan B. Anthony, in her own words. Ed. Lynn Sherr)

Gilded Suffragists (by Johanna Neumann, about the final push by the New York elite suffragists)

Iron Jawed Angels (movie)

So many more from the archives to newly published; watch for them!

(Note: The Peterborough Plus unit of LWVNH has already started working on plans, which are listed below in hopes of inspiring further ideas.)

1) September 25, 2019: Liz Tentarelli "Votes for Women: A History of the Sugffrage Movement" at the Peterborough Town Library

2) Exhibit of historic photographs in the Town House (date TBD) Organizer: Mose Olenik

3) Summer Lyceum series: Susan Ware has been proposed to Mary Vallier-Kaplan, Lyceum board and LWV member

4) We are in contact with Mary Hubbard and Corrine Chronopoulus, Peterborough Town Library and Suffrage Centennial collaboration.

5) Peterborough Woman's Club: Started around 1892 as a Progressive Club (child labor laws, women's right to vote). Kate just became a member and will talk with their leadership about plans.

6) Work with Michelle Stahl, Director, Monadnock Center for History and Culture. (Kate and Michelle met 9/11/2019 to begin planning collaboration on Suffrage Centennial in Peterborough and area):
a. Annual historic dinner (April 2020) at the Center. Possibly to build this year around Susan B. Anthony portrayed by Sheryl Faye: Coordinate Sheryl Faye engagements with other state chapters?
b. Archival research throughout the year. Try to recruit volunteers whom Michelle can train. There is a similar group in Peterborough working on this for African-American presence in the region. There was active pro- and anti-suffrage activity in Jaffrey.
c. Culminate in a one-month "mini" (August) in the Greenie Room celebrating the centennial of ratification and how the debate played out locally. Photos, artifacts, etc.
d. Make contact with Jenna Carroll: Historical Society Keene, History Professor. Suffrage parade? Collaborate on regional archival research?
e. Co-sponsor Iron Jawed Angels (June?) LWV and Center for History and Culture using Peterborough Community Theater. May suggest $5 donation.
f. Wear sashes and wear white on voting day in February 2020? Promote though our social media. Votes for Women sashes (See RESOURCES, above)

Equal Rights Amendment

The original women's suffragists were trying to get equal rights for women in many areas. Took until 1972 to get an Equal Rights Amendment thru Congress. But ratification by 38 states (3/4 of the states) was finally achieved in January 2020.

The House of Representatives passed a bill extending the deadline. Will the Senate do the same? Or must we begin with a new amendment and go thru ratification again?

Action suggestions: write to your US Senators and urge them to pass the deadline extension bill.

Marilla Ricker, NH suffragist, portrait unveiling

Fund raising ad hoc committee members (L to R in photo at right) Joni Esperian and Liz Tentarelli, with artist Kate Gridley and bill sponsor Rep. Renny Cushing. Missing from the photo (because she was overseeing the details of the outdoor reception) was fund raiser Sara McNeil.

Governor Maggie Hassan spoke just before unveiling the portrait. To right of the portrait is the third member of the self-appointed ad hoc committee to raise the funds for the portrait, Sara McNeil, who is a board member of the League of Women Voters of the Kearsarge/Sunapee Area. (Unable to attend the event was Mary Davies, who served as our treasurer for the project.)

We succeeded! Thanks to the donations of 80 people and organizations, Marilla Ricker's portrait now hangs in the NH State House, officially unveiled on Monday, May 16, 2016. Governor Margaret Hassan spoke, as did the ad hoc committee consisting of League members Liz Tentarelli and Sara McNeil and NH Women's Bar Assn. member Joni Esperian Esq. Rep. Renny Cushing, the bill's prime sponsor, also spoke. The Governor and the artist, Kate Gridley, together unveiled the portrait before a crown of 100+.

Marilla Marks Young Ricker, Esq. portrait by Kate Gridley

Boston Globe May 15, 2016, article about the unveiling: online or click here for the pdf

Marilla Ricker Plaque

Hanging below the portrait is this temporary plaque:


Ricker (1840 - 1920) was born in New Durham, NH. She became known nationally as a suffragist, attorney, author, free-thinker and humanitarian. In Dover in 1870, Ricker became the first NH woman to try to vote. She was denied a ballot, but for the next 50 years she kept trying to vote.

Ricker studied law to fight society's oppression of women and the poor. She passed the District of Columbia bar exam in 1882 "with the highest grade of all who were admitted at the time" (all others were men). Her law practice was mostly pro bono work on behalf of the poor and incarcerated. Returning to NH, Attorney Ricker petitioned the NH Supreme Court to practice law. When she was denied because she was female, she sued and won, but Ricker never joined the NH Bar.

At age 70, Ricker tried to run as a Republican candidate for governor. Her filing papers were refused because, as a woman, she was not registered to vote and thus not allowed to run. Ricker's tireless work for women's rights paved the way for the many NH women who would later hold public office. She died on November 12, 1920, just months after the 19th Amendment granted women the vote.

In her actions, words and work Marilla Ricker was an early advocate of equality and justice for all.

Who is Marilla Ricker?

NH's own suffragist, female lawyer, would-be governor. Find out more about the remarkable Marilla Ricker (1840-1920) by clicking on this pdf file.

For a more thorough description of Ricker's life and accomplishments, the 2002 thesis project by LeeAnn Richey at Stanford University is an excellent compilation from original sources. Click here to read the pdf

The NH Legislature authorized the installation of her portrait in the State House. After nearly a year's work, LWVNH and the NH Women's Bar Assn raised the funds to have it painted and installed (see above).

Thank you to all the donors who made this portrait and recognition possible!

3 more historic NH women

In the 2017 legislature two bills to recognize the first three women legislators in NH were passed. League supported this and we hope the public recognition will happen in time for the 100th anniversary (in 2020) of women getting the right to vote. Click here to read a Concord Monitor article (3/2/17) about the bills and the fascinating women.