On Aug. 26, 1920, Hoosier women won the right to vote. At first glance, the meaning behind that statement is simple. But the real story goes much deeper—and a collaborative group of organizations will spend the next year unearthing those stories and encouraging the public to participate in activities and events to mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment in 2020.
The Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial is catalyzed by Indiana Humanities, the Indianapolis Propylaeum, the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana Historical Bureau, and will include many grassroots and local partners. The project has received funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. and Hillenbrand, Inc.
“The centennial of women’s suffrage is an opportunity to honor the Hoosiers who played a role in the suffrage movement,” said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities. “Today, women’s suffrage seems like an obvious component of democracy, but 100 years ago, it was a controversial idea. Championing it required courage, perseverance and organized activism. At the same time, it’s a complicated history because not all women effectively gained the right to vote.”
Key components of the initiative include:
- May Wright Sewall Fellowships: Funding for researchers to dig into the hidden history of Hoosier women’s fight for the right to vote and the role they played in the national suffrage movement—especially the role of women of color and working-class women
- Suffrage Speakers Bureau: A selection of talks by trailblazers, historians and political scientists who can share insights into the struggle for suffrage and how Hoosier women have shaped and been shaped by politics since 1920
- Traveling Exhibit: A new exhibit about the battle for suffrage in Indiana will be created and circulated by the Indiana Historical Society
- Program Toolkit and Teacher Materials: Easy-to-use resources for librarians, teachers and community members to plan local events in celebration of the centennial of women’s suffrage
- New Website and Branding: A central hub of information with upcoming events, program guides, timelines and other resources to help communities mark the centennial of suffrage
“The role of Hoosiers in the suffrage movement is a story that isn’t fully known or told. This is Indiana’s opportunity to delve into that history and capture it for future generations,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch.
Lt. Gov. Crouch is supportive of an Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, a proposal that unanimously passed the Indiana House of Representatives in February and now heads to the Indiana Senate. The bill to create the commission, HB 1394, is sponsored by Rep. Sharon Negele (R-Attica).
More information, including an essay overviewing the history of the suffrage movement in Indiana by Dr. Anita Morgan, a senior history lecturer at IUPUI, is available at IndianaSuffrage100.org.