“Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle For The Vote” Celebrates 100th Anniversary Of 19th Amendment

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Women Celebrate the Ratification of the 19th Amendment. Photo Courtesy Carrie Chapman Catt Albums, Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library

Author and historian Ellen Carol DuBois gives an illustrated talk at the Burbank Public Library on her latest book, Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote on Thursday evening, March 12. She examines the history of those efforts which officially began in 1848 and plainly discusses the role racism played in the suffrage movement, along with the challenges women in politics have historically faced and continue to confront.

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Mary Dickson, President of the Glendale/Burbank chapter of the League of Women Voters which is cosponsoring the event with the Burbank Public Library, will give an overview of the League and its ongoing efforts.

Lawyer Inez Milholland Boissevain led the spectacular Women’s Suffrage Procession that took place in Washington, D.C. March 3, 1913. Photo Courtesy Library of Congress

“I wrote this book to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment,” commented DuBois. “I wanted audiences to know the long and courageous battle that women of different classes, races and ethnicities had to pursue to win this most important right for us.”

“As we recognize the current obstacles facing women in politics and the stability of our constitutional order, it is all the more important for women today (and men!) to know what was involved and to honor it by our own actions,” she added.

“Among the many things that I hope the audience learns from my presentation will be the importance of the California suffrage campaign that won women full voting rights in 1911,” DuBois also said.

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Suffragists tried to keep a bonfire burning outside the White House during their picket at the front gates in 1918. A policeman puts out the fire. There would be arrests. Photo Courtesy Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress

“We are excited to participate with the Burbank Buena Vista Public Library in presenting author and professor Ellen Carol Dubois who will be speaking about her newly published book, Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote,” commented Dickson.

“The publication of this book coincides with the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as the 100th anniversary of the formation of the League of Women Voters, an organization to educate women who were voting for the first time.”

“The League continues to serve that purpose today, not just for women but for all citizens,” Dickson continued. “We conduct candidates forums, present pros and cons about ballot propositions and offer voter registration information without pushing any political party.”

Alice Paul of the National Women’s Party sewed a star onto a suffrage flag each time a state ratified the 19th Amendment. She displays the completed flag after the last state needed for ratification (it was Tennessee) ratified the amendment. Photo Courtesy Stock Montage/Getty Images

“This is important to our mission, because as this history reveals, women pursued this mission of equal rights without support (or only sporadic support) from the major political parties. And it was quite the struggle!” she also said. “The story is as old as history, but the book begins with the meeting in Seneca Falls, New York ,in 1848.  That is 72 years before the passage of the 19th Amendment!”

“It can be hard for many of us today to understand that only 100 years ago, women did not have these protections and that many forces worked to deprive women and other citizens from exercising their right to vote, and other rights to participate in society, such as the right to speak in public,” Dickson said. “Her book is fascinating and inspiring.”

“The fight for enfranchisement of women was a struggle that lasted over 70 years.  It involved a large cast of remarkable activists who carried on the fight, women who worked over several generations tirelessly in a broad geographical and political landscape,” commented Burbank Librarian Hubert Kozak. “Their movement had countless victories and reversals,  and it involved numerous changes in strategy as it adapted to the evolving political landscape.”

Women Celebrate the Ratification of the 19th Amendment. Photo Courtesy Carrie Chapman Catt Albums, Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library

“The great achievement of this book is that the author is able to tell us that broad story succinctly, convey to us its salient points, and give us, through this portrait of the women’s suffrage movement,  a story of democracy in America that is both revealing and familiar.”

“Suffragist Maud Wood Park wrote in her memoirs, ‘Nearly a century of struggle seems an excessive price for the simple justice of votes for women.’ After reading Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote it was difficult to decide what had a greater impact on me, the fact that women fought for so long and faced so many defeats—and that many sacrificed their entire lives in this cause–or that the ‘simple justice of votes for women’ was something that was so long denied to them,” Kozak said.

Jeanette Rankin, the first woman to serve in Congress, is presented the flag that flew over the Capitol when Congress passed the 19th Amendment. Photo Courtesy Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

“As you may know, the library auditorium here was a central polling center [for the March 2020 California election], and I wanted to have an event here that reminded people about what it took for many people to get the vote, in this particular case women, on what is the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment,” he also explained.  “I envisioned this event as a celebration of democracy and also a celebration of women’s activism.”

DuBois discusses Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote at the Buena Vista branch of the Burbank Public Library on Thursday, March 12, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  The Buena Vista branch of the Burbank Public Library is located at 300 N. Buena Vista Street in Burbank. Plenty of free parking is available on site.

Image Courtesy Burbank Public Library.

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