2020 19th Amendment Centennial Celebration in Iowa

Cedar Falls Historical Museum – Women’s Suffrage Exhibit – 2020

2020 19th Amendment Centennial Celebration in Iowa

This article is by Maureen White, President of Cedar Falls local branch, Past President of AAUW Iowa, and current AAUW Iowa Board Member as Public Policy Director.

19th Amendment Centennial Celebration

American women won the right to vote when the 19th Amendment was passed on June 4, 1919, ratified on August 18, 1920, and became effective on August 26, 1920. The AAUW Iowa has joined the 19th Amendment Centennial Celebration Committee, which includes representatives of the League of Women Voters Iowa, several LWV chapters, the University of Northern Iowa (coordinating with ISU, UI, private and community colleges), 50-50 in 2020, Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University, Department of Human Rights-Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, Iowa Women’s Foundation, National Nineteenth Amendment Society, and the NEXUS Executive Women’s Alliance. The official kick-off for the yearlong celebration is set for Thursday, January 9, 2020, the birthdate of Iowa’s Carrie Chapman Catt, who was a prominent national leader in the Suffrage Movement. The legislature convenes on Monday, January 6, so the event is tentatively planned for the State Capitol, allowing legislators and the governor to be present.

There will be a number of exciting events and projects to celebrate the anniversary of women’s suffrage and internationally known artist/illustrator Gary Kelley of Cedar Falls (hometown Algona) has agreed to do artwork for the celebration. Projects and activities under development or consideration include:

  1. City/county proclamations re: 19th Amendment Centennial. 2. The Joy Cole Corning Lecture Series at the University of Northern Iowa has been asked to invite a speaker in 2020 to address suffrage/voting. (Joy was a life member of AAUW, school board member, state senator, and lieutenant governor.) 3. UNI and the Cedar Falls Public Art Committee are discussing plans for an outdoor art piece on the campus in recognition of suffrage–possibly a depiction Anna Lawther, an Iowa suffragette who is the namesake of a UNI dorm. 4. Placement of a sculpture or other recognition (e.g. plaque) on the State Capitol grounds and/or other Des Moines locations. 5. Plaques at Iowa suffrage related sites-locations are being researched. 6. Development of 19th Amendment curriculum for high schools; tied to standards. 7. Compilation of League of Women Voters Iowa history. 8. Original musical composition and statewide performances. 9. State Historical Society traveling suffrage display. 10. Participation in community and Iowa State Fair parades and related activities. 11. Iowa art and history museum displays.

We’re alerting you now about this celebration so that you can begin discussing how you or your branch could participate. Each organization hosting 19th Amendment Centennial activities in their area may use its own logo and name, not just the committee name, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to promote AAUW in our communities as well as celebrate this significant milestone.

Volunteers are needed for some of the planning committees and activities, so contact Ann Gale if you would like to be involved or if you have information about Iowa connections to the suffrage movement.

The National Women’s History Project identified Amelia Bloomer, Mary Jane Coggeshall, Flora Dunlap, Arabella Babb Mansfield, Mary Newbury Adams, Hortense Butler Heywood, Martha C. Callanan, Anna Bell Lawther, and Mary Atherton Bonney as Suffragists active in Iowa. Perhaps you have information to share about one of these women. If you want to do research, the University of Iowa library holds a large number of digital resources related to women’s suffrage, including information about many women not listed here. The Iowa Women’s Archives include information from Iowa State University and the Iowa Historical Society in addition to the U. of Iowa. Use this URL if the link doesn’t work for you