This August, 2020, America celebrated the century anniversary of Woman Suffrage. With the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920, women won the franchise and could no longer be denied access to the ballot box “on account of sex.”
I worked with the Waukesha County Historical Society & Museum to highlight national, state, and local suffrage history by posting daily historical notes on their Facebook Page. I also researched and wrote the Waukesha Woman Suffrage Trail. On Ratification Day, August 18, I participated in a Woman Suffrage Drive-up Event, dressed as a Wisconsin Suffragists.
Four of us wore these replica tunics that 100 Wisconsin women wore to a suffrage march in Chicago during the National Republican Convention in 1916. Marching in step with “drums beating and banners flying,” 10,000 women walked that day, parading for two miles past hostile crowds despite pouring rain and gale force winds. Soaked and wind-blown, the women’s determination to finish testified to their heartfelt desire for the national vote and, thus, earned the respect of the crowd.
Several of us volunteers sewed purple/gold suffrage masks to give out along with suffrage craft items and information that day. Then ten of us walked the Waukesha Suffrage Trail that started at the Museum, where the first stop was the Theodora W. Youmans Park. Youmans of Waukesha played a significant role in the Wisconsin fight for suffrage.
It should be noted that, in 1920, laws and customs blocked many women of color from the ballot, limiting this victory mostly to white women. Although women of all races organized and promoted universal suffrage, it would take decades before all Black women, Spanish-American women, and indigenous women could freely exercise their equal voting rights.
Check out more information at https://www.waukeshacountymuseum.org/education/suffrage/