Before the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women’s right to vote on Aug. 26, 1920, many small steps led to women’s suffrage being adopted as the law of the land. Over the years, resistance, arrests, beatings, imprisonment and derision followed the suffragists. This movement ultimately resulted in the passage of the 19th Amendment in the U.S. Congress in June 1919, with ratification completed in August 1920.
A minimum of 36 states were required for ratification. Wisconsin was the first to ratify, in June 1919. Iowa was 10th, less than one month later. Tennessee tipped the balance in a famously contentious vote on Aug. 18, 1920.
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Many infamous Iowa women from all walks of life led the fight - both locally and nationally - to grant women (and also men) in the United States the right to vote, yet many of their stories are unknown to most Iowans. As we commemorate the 100th year anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, we would like to tell these stories in a series entitled “Profiles of Courage and Persistence.”
(See profile of suffragette Carrie Chapman Catt on page 5A)
Much of women’s history throughout the United States is unwritten or difficult to find in history books. It is important that Iowans are aware of the long and difficult battle these women fought so that all citizens could have access to the ballot. New profiles of women will appear on a biweekly basis throughout the 2020 calendar year on Iowa’s 19th Amendment Centennial Commemoration web page (https://19th-Amendment-Centennial.org). To date, 27 stories will be profiled during 2020.
Although the journey of women gaining the right to vote was hard won, there is still – today -- much work left to be done. Thus, the inspiration behind the theme of Iowa’s 19th Amendment Centennial Commemoration is “Hard Won – Not Done.”
Kristen Corey, Iowa Department of Human Rights/Office on the Status of Women, and Steve Corbin area members of Iowa’s 19th Amendment Centennial Commemoration Committee.