On Aug. 26, 1920, with final ratification of the 19 thAmendment to the U. S. Constitution, Hoosier women won the right to vote. At first glance, the meaning behind that statement is simple. But the real story goes much deeper. In Indiana, almost seventy years passed between the first calls for the right of women to vote and the passage of the 19th Amendment. And, though momentous, 1920 is just one milestone in a long and ongoing journey, and access to the voting booth is just one part of what it means to be an equal part of the democratic process.
Starting in 2020, and now extending into 2021, the Women’s Suffrage Centennial is being celebrated throughout Indiana and America. In 1973, August 26 was designated as Women’s Equality Day by Congress. Syracuse has designated the week of August 23-29 as “Women’s Suffrage Centennial Celebration” with Chautauqua-Wawasee putting on a number of events, teaming with the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, Syracuse Public Library, Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber and Indiana Humanities.
The first program is a presentation by Melissa Gentry titled “From Seneca Falls to Seymour and South Bend: Mapping Indiana’s Suffrage History” which asks the question “What can we learn by mapping Indiana’s women’s suffrage movement and its leaders?” Her program, based on “story maps” reveals that Indiana—and Hoosier suffragists in particular—were ideologically, economically, racially, and socially diverse. Melissa’s multimedia story maps depict some of the people and places connected to the history of women’s suffrage. Melissa Gentry is the Map Collection Supervisor at the Ball State University Libraries’ GIS Research and Map Collection, where she provides instruction programs and curates special exhibits at Ball State University and the Muncie community. This first program will be held at Oakwood Resort Inn on August 26, from 6:30-7:30.
The following Saturday, August 29, will feature two programs, one in the morning, and one mid-day. The morning will be a Children’s program, led by Margo Wilson from 10:00 to 11:00 at the Syracuse Public Library. Following that, starting at 11:30 an Ice Cream Social is planned for Lakeside Park at the gazebo. The Ice Cream will be provided by Joe’s Ice Cream. The event will also feature suffragists and brief historical presentation by Beth Beams.
The fourth program will be a presentation by Marsha Miller titled “From Amanda to Zerelda: Hoosier Suffragists Who Raised A Ruckus”. This presentation explores the chronological history of women’s suffrage in Indiana through historical costume and a suffragist song, or two! Marsha introduces Hoosier women who helped shape the movement, including Amanda Way (‘mother of Indiana suffrage’), Helen Gougar (feisty publisher and lawyer based in Lafayette), Zerelda Wallace (one of the founders of Indiana’s Equal Suffrage Society), and women who moved into the national suffragist sphere, including May Wright Sewall (educator, and civic organizer), and Ida Husted Harper (journalist; close friend and biographer of Susan B. Anthony). As a librarian, Marsha Miller has taught more than 4,800 information literacy sessions at Indiana State University and coordinates library social media. She works closely with ISU’s Gender Studies Program and is a board member for the League of Women Voters of Vigo County. This presentation will be at the Syracuse Community Center on September 5 from 2:00 to 3:30. She will bring a variety of historical pictures and other items of interest and even books for children.
More details will be provided by a series of historical articles. And details are available here or our Facebook site (www.facebook.com/ChautauquaWawasee).