The Alabama State Bar is proud to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Congress’s passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing all American women the right to vote. From the early 1800s, women across the country organized, wrote, and protested in favor of equal voting rights.
It was not until 1878 that an amendment guaranteeing women’s suffrage was introduced to Congress. On June 4, 1919, Congress passed what became the 19th Amendment, readying it for ratification by the states on August 18, 1920. Here, we chronicle the history of women’s suffrage across the world, and share some of the best written and visual resources on the American journey to women’s voting rights.
Girl Scouts of South Alabama Women’s Suffrage March
University of Alabama School of Law Symposium
Showings of The Fight for the Noblest Democracy
This short film by Jenna M. Bedsole briefly reviews the national suffrage movement and then turns its focus to the suffrage movement in Alabama. It features the leaders who advocated for women’s right to vote – their triumphs and their disappointments. The film also includes those who opposed the expansion of women’s right to vote, why they fought against it, and their tactics to stop the effort.
League of Women Voters
Please contact Jenna Bedsole at [email protected] if your organization would like to show the documentary.
From the Archives
Browse historical documents from the collection of the Alabama Department of Archives & History.
- Scrapbook on Education and Women’s Suffrage: A scrapbook created by Ellen Hildreth of New Decatur, Alabama that contains clippings, correspondence, programs, publications, broadsides, photographs, and other memorabilia. Among correspondents are Carrie Chapman Catt, Laura Clay, Susan B. Anthony, and Helen Keller.
- Brochures for Women’s Continuing Education: hree brochures (one from Auburn University at Montgomery and two from Alabama State University in Montgomery) from the 1970s that encouraged women to seek education and careers.
- Pro-Suffrage Broadside: A pro-suffrage broadside from the early 20th century advocating for equal suffrage rights regardless of race.
- “Votes for Colored Women”: An anti-suffrage flier from the early 20th century discouraging the passage of the 19th amendment because it would lead to the enfranchisement of African American women.
- From the Page: Help the ADAH transcribe primary source documents relating to women’s history. While some materials are suffrage-related, they are all focused on Alabama women, their lives, and achievements.
- Alabama [email protected]: A clearinghouse of online resources for Alabama history from partner organizations throughout the state.
Let Your Voice Be Heard
See photos, artifacts, and other items of significance from the times of the fight for women’s suffrage.
2019 Exhibitions and Programs Explore America’s Changemakers, Library of Congress
19th Amendment Centennial of Women’s Right to Vote, American Bar Association
Votes for Women, The Smithsonian
Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence, National Portrait Gallery
Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence, Digital Version, Google Arts & Culture
Centennial Commemorations & History
Read more about the history of women’s suffrage in Alabama, and see more on the celebration of the 19th Amendment.
Alabama Women’s Suffrage Centenial, Alabama Women’s Suffrage Centennial Committee
“They Are Too Sweet and Angelic to Reason,” Or, How Women Got the Vote in Alabama, Huntsville History Collection
Alabama Equal Suffrage Association, Encyclopedia of Alabama
19th Amendment Centennial of Women’s Right to Vote, American Bar Association
Women’s Suffrage Centennial, 1920-2020, Humanities New York
Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote, Library of Congress Magazine
Women’s Issues Within Political Party Platforms, The Pudding
How the 1918 Flu Pandemic Helped Advance Women’s Rights, Smithsonian Magazine
What the Spanish Flu Had to do With Women’s Suffrage (audio), New York Public Radio
Listen & Read
Listen: Our PlaylistWe’ve compiled a list of inspiring songs to accompany your journey through the history of women’s suffrage. Just click play below to listen!
Brave by Sara Barielles
Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill
Try by Colbie Caillat
Miss Independent by Kelly Clarkson
Stronger by Kelly Clarkson
You Gotta Be by Des’ree
Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves by Eurythmics feat. Aretha Franklin
Respect by Aretha Franklin
You Don’t Own Me by Lesley Gore
I’m Every Woman by Whitney Houston
The Pill by Loretta Lynn
Paths of Victory by Odetta
9 to 5 by Dolly Parton
Just Because I’m A Woman by Dolly Parton
Roar by Katy Perry
Fight Song by Rachel Platten
I Am Woman by Helen Reddy
Different Drum by The Stone Poneys feat. Linda Ronstadt
Ain’t Got No – I Got Life by Nina Simone
She Works Hard for the Money by Donna Summer
Songs of the Suffragettes by Elizabeth Knight
Read & Watch: Bibliography
Our bibliography contains works for all age groups covering the history of women’s suffrage in Alabama and across the United States. Download it as a PDF here, or click any of the headings below to browse the list.
Before the US
April 10, 1902
Parliament enacts the Commonwealth Franchise Act. Women over the age of 21 become able to vote in national elections, and stand for the Australia Parliament, regardless of whether or not they have the right to vote in their home states.
June 5, 1915
King Christian X signs the constitution passed by parliament. This replacement of the 1849 and 1866 constitutions, which reserved political office and voting rights for head-of-household men over 30, grants all Danish citizens the right to vote and run for office.
April 12, 1917
While under the control of the Russian Provisional Government, Estonian women were granted the right to vote along with Estonia gaining autonomy as a nation. Later, in 1920, universal suffrage was included in independent Estonia's constitution.
July 20, 1917
The Provisional Government issues a decree granting voting rights for women aged 20. A mass rally on March 19, 1917, with over 40,000 marchers, saw protestors occupying the Tauride Palace grounds until the Provisional Government and Soviet committed to women's suffrage.
May 24, 1918
Women not included in racial and Indigenous exclusions become eligible to vote in federal elections, regardless of their provincial franchise status.
May 26, 1918
In the wake of the Russian Revolution, Georgia declares itself an independent republic on May 26, 1918. Equality regardless of race, sex and religion were among its founding principles, including women's suffrage.
Throughout 1918, women are granted the right to vote across Europe. The legislative bodies of Austria and Germany approve women's suffrage; Poland grants the right by decree of Provisional Chief of State Józef Piłsudski. The Soviet government grants universal suffrage to the Kyrgyz SSR.
Source: 100 years of women's right to vote in Poland, Poland.pl et al
November 18, 1918
Latvia becomes an independent nation by declaration of the People's Council of Latvia. As a territory of the Russian Empire, Latvian women had been granted the right to vote in 1905; universal suffrage in independent Latvia was granted by the Law on Elections to the Constitutional Assembly.
May 9, 1919
The Dutch House of Representatives votes 64-10 in favor of women's suffrage, granting women within the Dutch mainland the right to vote.
May 9, 1919
After a parliamentary act, all Luxembourg citizens, including women, gained the right to vote. Previously, voting was limited to property owners, and only 25% of men were able to vote.
* Aboriginal men and women were not granted the right to vote until 1962.
** First Nations men and women did not become eligible to vote until 1960.
The Alabama Legislature has passed a resolution recognizing the Alabama Centennial of Women’s Suffrage Committee. It states:
WHEREAS, a proposed women’s suffrage amendment was first introduced in the United States Senate in 1878 and was brought to a vote, unsuccessfully, in 1887, 1914, 1918, and 1919; and
WHEREAS, during 1919 and 1920, the Sixty-Sixth Congress debated, and the state legislatures considered, an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to provide suffrage for women; and
WHEREAS, on May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives approved a proposed amendment, followed by the United States Senate on June 4; several state legislatures followed within a few days of the approval of the amendment; and
WHEREAS, on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th State to ratify the amendment, providing the support of three-fouths of states necessary under Article V of the Constitution of the United States; and
WHEREAS, Alabama’s celebration of the centennial of women’s suffrage offers an opportunity for Alabamians to learn more about, and commemorate, the efforts of the women’s suffrage movement and the role of women in our democracy; now therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, BOTH HOUSES THEREOF CONCURRING, That we endorse the efforts of the existing Alabama Centennial of Women’s Suffrage Committee for the purpose of leading the state in its centennial commemoration of women’s suffrage, and hereby resolve to support the Alabama Centennial of Women’s Suffrage Committee in promoting, planning, and executing the Committee’s historic, educational, celebratory, and cultural initiatives to observe and commemorate the centennial of women’s suffrage in the State of Alabama.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we encourage the Secretary of State to provide support to the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage Committee, through his position as Alabama’s election official and his efforts to educate Alabamians about20the importance of the right to vote and voter participation.