The Long 19th Amendment Project is a joint initiative of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The project supports fellowships and public programming centered on the 2020 centennial of the 19th Amendment with the aim of telling a more complete and inclusive story of women’s suffrage. The Library’s ambitious Long 19th Amendment Project will investigate the past, present, and future of women’s voting and the broader reconstruction of American citizenship in the post–Civil War era.
Long 19th Amendment Project Portal
The Long 19th Amendment Project Portal is an open-access digital portal that facilitates interdisciplinary, transnational scholarship and innovative teaching about the ongoing struggle of women in the United States to achieve the full rights of citizenship. The portal will aggregate suffrage collections from the Schlesinger Library and other US repositories, such as the Digital Public Library of America. The project will also include historical databases tracking women’s voting patterns in the United States.
Voting Matters: Gender, Citizenship, and the Long 19th Amendment
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
What did these words mean in 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified? What do citizenship, voting, and sex mean in America today? On the occasion of the 19th Amendment’s centennial, the Radcliffe Institute will offer an online conference, spread across six sessions between August and December, that brings together scholars from multiple disciplines, alongside activists, teachers, and students, to consider the long history of gender and citizenship in the United States. Speakers will connect the history of the 19th Amendment to a series of signal turning points in American life and will analyze how the tangled history of gender and voting continues to shape our political landscape today.
The sessions of the conference represent the culmination of the Schlesinger Library’s Long 19th Amendment Project, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute, and Harvard University. The conference considers the long history of women’s activism for the franchise in the broader context of constituting and reconstructing the polity of the United States, from the mid-19th century to the present, in order to better fulfill the Constitution’s promise of a republic governed by We, the People.
We invite learners of all ages to explore the long, complex, and ongoing efforts to ensure full citizenship for women in the United States.
In honor of the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which declared that the right to vote could not be denied “on account of sex,” Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library has invited a broad array of researchers, writers, and teachers to join us in creating a series of digital teaching modules. Each lesson in our Suffrage School connects in rich and unpredictable ways to the Library’s Long 19th Amendment Project, which tackles the tangled history of gender and American citizenship. Every module is anchored by a short video in which the guest instructor “opens” a primary source from the Schlesinger’s collections, helping students and teachers to understand both the text (or object) and its historical context. Lessons include a link to digitized documents, questions to guide further reflection, and—in some cases—additional readings.
The civic engagement project #HerVote brings together students, adults, and elders in conversation—with one another and with their communities—around the issue of women’s voting and political participation. A partnership between the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, #HerVote was created to honor the centennial of the 19th Amendment. #HerVote aims to provide a platform for women and girls to share the issues that matter to them with a broad audience and to draw intergenerational connections between our present moment and the long history of women’s contested place in American political life.
Seeing Citizens: Picturing American Women’s Fight for the Vote
In response to decades of sexist pictures, suffragists constructed a visual vocabulary that challenged ideas of women’s place in society, expanded notions of citizenship, and laid the foundation for modern media politics. This exhibition presents the images that leading activists wanted the public to see—and some that they wanted to hide. White suffragists portrayed themselves as elite, educated, and moral women. Some aspects of their campaign assured skeptics that the amendment would preserve white supremacy and pose no challenges to the disfranchisement strategies that affected Black women and men alike in the Jim Crow South. Lacking funds and support from the white-dominated press, suffragists of color typically employed images on a smaller scale. Their pictures are less familiar but no less powerful. They demonstrate the movement’s breadth, emphasis, and savvy for visual politics. Pro– and anti–women’s rights images offer more than a look at the past: they illustrate the vibrant debates about the status of women in the United States that continue in images today.
In 1943, the Massachusetts suffragist Maud Wood Park (Radcliffe College Class of 1898) donated her papers to Radcliffe. That Woman’s Rights Collection became the foundation of the Schlesinger Library. More than 75 years later, the Library continues to preserve essential women’s history documents and make them accessible to the public.
This #SuffrageSyllabus explores the tangled history of gender and United States citizenship. It was created by a group of scholars working together with Harvard College students and Schlesinger Library staff as part of the Library’s Long 19th Amendment Project. We’ve organized the semester-long course of readings and assignments around turning points in the history of American voting rights and female citizenship, from 1776 to the present day. We hope teachers working in a wide variety of classrooms will adapt this content to enrich their teaching.
Continue the conversation on social media: #SuffrageSyllabus