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Friday, August 30, 2013

Voting Power: Woman Suffrage

We’ve got a lot to celebrate this last week of August. Along with commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, this week also marks the 93rd anniversary of the certification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Known as the Woman Suffrage Amendment, it was first introduced to Congress in 1878, but took over 50 years to finally make it into the Constitution. Granting women the right to vote, the amendment was passed by Congress on June 4, 1919 and then ratified by the states on August 18, 1920. The amendment was finally certified on August 26th of that same year. 

Almost a century later, August 26th is recognized as Women’s Equality Day, designated as such by Congress in 1971. In the decades that followed the amendment's certification, victory was still fresh in the minds of American women. The date was a reminder of how far women’s equality had come, and how much more was possible. For the 1933-1934 Century of Progress Exposition hosted by the City of Chicago, the National Council of Women commissioned the artist Hildreth Meiere to paint a mural depicting woman’s progress and place in history in the United States. Below is a sketch for that mural, "Onward March of American Woman." Included in the sketch are themes related to women’s contribution to education, Emancipation, the Red Cross, and social justice. 

Onward March of American Women, 1933
The Peter A. Juley & Son Collection contains more views of Hildreth Meiere’s mural which can be found in the Collections Search Center. You can find more information about Women’s Equality Day and the Nineteenth Amendment on the website for the National Women’s History Museum.

Rachel Brooks
Photograph Archives, Smithsonian American Art Museum

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