Chautauqua-Wawasee Presents the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Celebration
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
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 starting later this summer. And details
are available on the Chautauqua-Wawasee website (www.CHQW.org) or Facebook
www.facebook.com/ChautauquaWawasee. Chautauqua-Wawasee is a Syracuse-based non-profit
organization that provides cultural enrichment and entertainment through programs focused on the
Arts, Education, Faith and Recreation.