4 June 1919 – 18 August 1920
Do you know what happened on these two dates in history? If you were a female American citizen, these dates changed your lives.
4 June 1919 is the historic day that Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. 18 August 1920 is the day that it became the law of the land, as the required number of states had voted to ratify it.
The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.
The Centennial Year celebrating the march to success by the women’s suffrage movement opens in just 362 more days. Both of my grandmothers passed away years ago, but I’ve wondered about their stances on this issue. While I am positive that neither were out marching, as I know they would have mentioned it to me, particularly when I reached voting age, both Grandmother and Nana kept up with political issues and shared their viewpoints.
Each of my grandmothers was over 21 when the 19th Amendment was ratified and, if they were allowed to register to vote before the 1920 presidential election, could have voted for the first time in their lives.
Hazel Adams & Julia Sabo, c1920s
One of my 2X great grandmothers, Nellie Adams, died in 1927, so might have exercised her right to vote and a great grandmother, Annie Adams, may have voted in multiple elections as she lived until 1940.
Nellie Adams & Annie Adams
Why am I mentioning all this when the beginning of the centenary year is still almost a full year away?
I thought it would be interesting to gather whatever voting records I could locate for my grandmothers, which brought a surprise. When I contacted the county registrar for Nana, she said that in New Jersey, old registers are not kept, per state law. However, when the office moved to a new site, a few of the old books were kept for posterity. This is all that could be found for Nana:
Sabo, Mrs. Julia, 49 Summer St. Passaic – Advertised Oct, 1935.The registrar told me that “advertised” meant that she hadn’t voted in several years. I know Nana voted regularly in my lifetime – she had very definite opinions on many subjects, but in October 1935, her attentions were elsewhere. She had a ten year old son to raise and her husband, my grandfather George Sabo, was dying of tuberculosis.
It’s very disappointing to learn that most of the early records are long gone.
TIP: If you are interested in researching your ancestors’ participation in the American Women’s Suffrage Movement, begin now because you might have to do a lot of digging for not much in return.
To learn about the historical aspects of women’s suffrage, here are some resources with which to begin, but be sure to check for state, county and local resources:
Chronicling America – newspaper articles
Elizabeth Cady Stanton – The History Channel
Susan B. Anthony – The History Channel
The Original March on Washington and the Suffragists Who Paved the Way – The Smithsonian
The Senate Passes the Woman Suffrage Amendment- United States Senate
The Woman Suffrage Movement – The National Women’s History Museum
Woman Suffrage – National Geographic Society
Woman Suffrage – The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
Woman Suffrage – The National Museum of American History
Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment – The National Archives
Women’s Suffrage – Wikipedia article includes data from other countries besides the U.S.
Women’s Suffrage – The History Channel
Women’s Suffrage Movement – HistoryNet
Women’s Suffrage, Political Responsiveness, and Child Survival in American History – National Institutes of Health