Women's Suffrage Centennial August 2020
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: NHWomenVote100.org
(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)
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 January 2020? Be sure to visit the new "Votes for Women" exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. Read about it, with a discussion of some of the forgotten people in the suffrage movement, in this Smithsonian Magazine article (April 9, 2019): https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/how-women-got-vote-far-more-complex-story-history-textbooks-reveal-180971869/?fbclid=IwAR1UYAo956Uh6L2-7t-BoVldyCRz8C3WYpM520BX8Uj3pi-R_tg3lehJmzE#DOPb2GLhvYwbrfJZ.01
These programs are all free and open to the public unless otherwise stated.
Also on the website are various articles about the suffrage movement.
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: https://www.facebook.com/LWVNHCapitolRegion/
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:
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. https://museum.archives.gov/rightfully-hers https://www.archives.gov/news/topics/womens-history
Suffrage-related events that are already planned are listed at: http://www.nhwomenvote100.org 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 http://www.nhwomenvote100.org 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: https://www.etsy.com/listing/708529722/double-ribbon-thin-font-votes-for-women Or buy yellow wide grosgrain ribbon and with a permanent marker write Votes for Women on it. About 1 and ¾ 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 Peterboro 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)
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: https://sherylfaye.com/ 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)
However, there is hope on the horizon:
From LWV president Christ Carson: We've been waiting nearly 100 years for equality.
While 2020 is the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote, the passage of a constitutional amendment--known as the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)--that enshrines equality for all regardless of sex or gender, has faced obstacles since 1923.
The possibility of its passage has been renewed by the outcome of the Virginia Legislature elections in 2019, with many legislators declaring their intent to ratify the ERA. Virginia's ratification would make it the 38th and final state needed for this constitutional amendment to become a reality.
However, unlike many other of our other constitutional amendments, the ERA had a deadline for ratification of 1979 (and then extended by Congress to 1982). But hope is not lost--this month, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee ruled 21-11 to remove the ratification deadline and now the resolution moves to the House floor for a vote.
It's been almost 100 years we have been waiting and working for this amendment, let's not wait 100 more. By passing the ERA, we can firmly and resolutely declare that we believe in equality for all.
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.
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.
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!