“Women have suffered agony of soul which you can never comprehend, that you and your daughters might inherit political freedom. That vote has been costly. Prize it! The vote is a power, a weapon of offense and defense, a prayer. Understand what it means and what it can do for your country. Use it intelligently, conscientiously, prayerfully.”
– Carrie Chapman Catt
August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, a day that commemorates the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution! The fight by women to claim their right to vote spanned more than 70 years, and finally became law in August 26, 1920 – almost 100 years ago! In celebration, we’ve selected some library items about the United States Suffrage Movement to highlight.
“Truth is powerful and it prevails.”
Sojourner Truth (c. 1797–1883) was an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. After she gained freedom from slavery in 1827, Truth traveled as a well-known anti-slavery speaker. In 1851, at the Women’s Rights Convention in Ohio, Truth delivered a speech known for its repeated question, “Ain’t I a woman?” By asking this question, she asserted both her gender and race as they held intersecting importance for the direction of women’s rights. You can read more about Truth’s life in her autobiography, Narrative of Sojourner Truth, as well as dozens of books for all ages inspired by her life and contributions.
“Oh, if I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women!
There is so much yet to be done.”
Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906) was an American women’s rights activist and social reformer. You can read to your child about the legacy of Anthony in dozens of children’s books, including Marching with Aunt Susan, Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President, and Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, and the Fight for Rights.
“The right of women to vote is as sacred in my judgment as that of men,
and I am quite willing at any time to hold to both hands in favor of this right.”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902) was another prominent leader in the movement. Stanton and Susan B. Anthony are known for their close friendship and intellectual partnership that contributed to the success of the movement. They helped to found the National Woman Suffrage Association, published newsletters and organized national efforts fighting for voting equality. Stanton, Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage compiled the History of Woman Suffrage, which was written over a 40-year period (1881–1922) in six volumes of first-person accounts following the journey to women’s right to vote. Check out the documentary, Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony!
“One had better die fighting against injustice than die like a dog or a rat in a trap.”
Ida B. Wells (1862–1931) was an African-American investigative journalist and activist. She spoke up against racism during the suffrage movement and founded organizations that advocated for the voting rights of black women. Wells was a leader of the civil rights movement in its early years and a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Read more about Wells in Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History (ages 6-12), Ida B. Wells: Let the Truth Be Told (ages 7-10), and Not Afraid to Dare: the Stories of Ten African-American Women (for teens) and Fifty Black Women Who Changed America (for adults).
“I always feel the movement is a sort of mosaic.
Each of us puts in one little stone, and then you get a great mosaic at the end.”
Alice Paul (1885–1977) was an American suffragist and feminist who served as a leader in the movement’s later decades. Following the passing of the 19th Amendment, Paul continued as leader of the National Woman’s Party, fighting for further progress such as the proposed constitutional amendment known as the Equal Rights Amendment. Paul dedicated her life’s work to progress for gender equality. You can learn more about her and her lifework in nearly every form of media. There’s Mary Walton’s A Woman's Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot, Miss Paul and the President: the Creative Campaign for Women's Right to Vote (for young readers) and even the 2004 film Iron Jawed Angels (starring Hilary Swank as Alice Paul).
These are just five of the many women you can learn about and their important legacy! Visit your local library to check out a few items and learn more about women throughout history - or, “herstory!”