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19th Amendment Centennial

One hundred years ago, on August 18, women of the United States celebrated the final ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution giving women the right to vote. Historic Fort Steuben commemorates that achievement with an exhibit which will be on display from August 17-30, Monday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm and Sunday from 11am to 4pm.

“Our right to vote in this country is something we take for granted today. But when our national government was first formed, women did not have that right,” explained Judy Bratten, Assistant Director. “It took over 130 years for the dream of equal voting rights for women to become a reality but not without real struggles. In the days before automobiles, airplanes, telephones and computers, women traveled the country giving lectures, printing leaflets, organizing protests and parades. The efforts and dedication were incredible!”

Bratten noted that many of the suffragists had been active in the earlier movement to end slavery which was finally achieved with the 13th Amendment in 1865. Many of the methods used to promote abolition were then applied to the equal voting rights efforts.

“We must remember that voting was only part of the issue,” she added. “Women could not own property in their own name if they were married. They could not leave an abusive husband who had all the property in his name. Women were often considered property rather than equal human beings.”

“This is an abbreviated version of an exhibit that opened in March but was quickly shut down by the onset of Covid-19 restrictions,” Bratten said. “We encourage visitors to attend and learn and then do their own reading to better appreciate the efforts that these women made and that we benefit from today. And we suggest they come back in September for our annual Celebrate the Constitution display that provides more information on the history and importance of our founding document and the history of the amendment process.”

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