19 Amendment

Commemorating the 19th Amendment

On Aug. 26, 1920, after decades of coordinated efforts across the United States, the 19th Amendment was adopted to ensure constitutional protection for women's right to vote. While Indiana University Bloomington will commemorate that momentous occasion on that date — which is now widely celebrated as Women’s Equality Day — our campus programming began in January 2020 and will continue throughout the calendar year. Purple, white, and gold flower beds will be planted around the Indiana Memorial Union in honor of the purple, white, and gold flag of the Congressional Union, which later became the National Woman’s Party. After the sun sets on Aug. 26, the Indiana Memorial Union building will be lit up in purple and gold.

Among the programming is a Themester course for fall 2020 titled “Sex, Race, and Voting Rights,” taught by Wendy Gamber, Byrnes Professor and Chair of the Department of History in The College of Arts and Sciences; Lisa-Marie Napoli, director of the Political and Civic Engagement program; Lauren MacLean, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science; and Stephanie Sanders, Peg Zeglin Brand Chair, Department Chair, and Provost Professor in the Department of Gender Studies. The class will feature speakers from all four of these programs in addition to guests such as Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel and Ann Birch, president of Bloomington-Monroe League of Women Voters. The fall 2020 Themester is focused on democracy.

The Journal of American History, published by the Organization of American Historians and edited by IU, is publishing "Sex, Suffrage, Solidarities: Centennial Reappraisals," a series intended to provoke new questions about the 19th Amendment and its connection to political, economic and cultural transformations. The series will continue throughout 2020 — with research articles, features, and reviews published in the journal and its related blog and podcast — to foster creative thinking about the amendment and its complex legacies.

Programming partners on IU's 19th Amendment and Equality Day events are the Political and Civic Engagement Program; the Arts & Humanities Council; the Department of History; the Office of the Provost & Executive Vice President; and Themester.

Events and Speakers

Check below for upcoming events to commemorate the 19th Amendment at IU Bloomington. In a new essay​, IU First Lady Laurie Burns McRobbie has detailed the trials and tribulations faced by women as they led the suffrage movement. Find resources and information on the city's commemorations on the League of Women Voters of Bloomington-Monroe County website. IU Bloomington Libraries has made publically available a comprehensive list of research resources on women's suffrage in the U.S., as well as a comprehensive guide to university, governmental and non-profit resources to aid voters in the civic engagement process and to help them make informed decisions on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.

Monday, November 2

'Election Day & Women’s Suffrage' featuring IU Professor Judith Allen

When & Where: 12:30-1:30 p.m.; register here  
On the eve of Election Day, this event celebrates the impact the 19th amendment has had since 1920; the history of women’s suffrage and the barriers to voting for women of color; and the instrumental leaders through the decades who made the right to vote for all women possible. IU Walter Professor Judith Allen and First Lady Laurie Burns McRobbie will host a discussion on the differences—and similarities—in women voters one hundred years ago and today, leading up to the 2020 election.

Past Events

Monday, August 24

'A Woman's Place: History through Today'

When & Where: Noon, live-streamed on the IU Arts & Humanities Council’s Facebook page

The Political and Civic Engagement program and the IU A&H Council will present a student roundtable discussion on the history of the suffrage movement and its implications for politically engaged young people today. Moderating will be IU alumna Anna Groover, who graduated from IU in May 2020 with a degree in English, geography, and religious studies. Groover hosted the IU A&H Council's summer Thursdays@Home program, a weekly, COVID-era livestreamed variety show featuring IU students, faculty, and staff. She also worked on humanities programming at First Thursdays and an exhibits catalog highlighting the art and history exhibits on display during the Indiana Remixed festival in the spring of 2020. Presented with Women in Government.

Panelists and their topics:

  • Lauren Schumacher, history student, "Pockets and Protests"
  • Sam Bowden, history student, "Deviant Suffragettes"
  • Lucy Newell, women in government student, "Voting and Women's Issues"
  • Adanma Amzat, Indiana House of Representatives intern and PACE student, "Women’s Place in Indiana State Government"
  • Cassidy McCammon, PACE student, "Indiana Suffrage and the Big Ten Voting Challenge"

Friday, October 16

'Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed' virtual film screening

When: 7-8:16 p.m. get virtual tickets

IU Cinema will stream a virtual presentation of “Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed,” a look at the first Black woman to run for president, directed by Shola Lynch. IU’s PACE program will provide a virtual film introduction, film screening, and interactive Q&A. Be sure to download the free online meeting platform Zoom to your computer or phone to be able to access this virtual event. A Zoom registration link will be provided closer to the event date.

Wednesday, October 14

IU Department of History's 33rd annual Paul V. McNutt Lecture: 'Did the 19th Amendment Enfranchise American Women?'

When & Where: 7 p.m. webinar; register here

Join the IU Department of History in the College of Arts and Sciences for its 33rd annual Paul V. McNutt Lecture with University of Maryland Professor Robyn Muncy. Professor Muncy will explore the women's suffrage movement and whether or not the 19th Amendment has empowered American women. Following her presentation, she will be joined by Paul V. McNutt Professor Michael McGerr for a moderated Q&A session.

Since 1920, many journalists, activists, and even historians have celebrated the ratification of the 19th  Amendment as the moment when American women won the vote. Professor Muncy asks whether that makes sense: Did the 19th Amendment actually enfranchise American women? To answer, she explores state-level victories of women’s suffrage before 1920 and ongoing struggles of women for admittance to the polls after 1920. In the process of revealing the raggedy, piecemeal process by which women have won access to the ballot, she illuminates how American democracy works and what it demands of us today.

The Department of History’s annual McNutt Lecture honors Paul V. McNutt, who was dean of the IU School of Law from 1925 to 1933, then became Indiana's governor and later served as U.S. High Commissioner to the Philippines, director of the Federal Security Agency, and chairman of the War Manpower Commission during World War II.

Equality Day Events | Wednesday, August 26

'She Persisted: Votes for Women in Indiana, Monroe County, and at Indiana University'

When & Where: Noon, live-streamed on the IU A&H Council’s Facebook page

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is 100 years old on August 26, 2020. As part of IU Equality Day’s commemoration of the amendment, panelists from IU and the Monroe County History Center will take part in a roundtable discussion on the history of the suffrage movement, covering state and local suffragist leaders; the national suffragist leaders who spoke at IU; and continued campus work to register voters and ensure that all women are able to exercise their right to vote. The discussion will be moderated by Wendy Gamber, Chair of IU’s Department of History. Presented with Wylie House, University Archives, the Monroe County History Center, the Lilly Library, and IU Libraries.


'We Must Be Fearless' with keynote speaker Anita Morgan

When & Where: Live- streamed on the IU A&H Council’s Facebook page

IUPUI Senior Lecturer in History Anita Morgan will speak to a live, physically distanced audience. Morgan is the author of “We Must Be Fearless: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Indiana” (Indiana Historical Press), which examines the struggles and triumphs of Hoosier women coming together to seek equal voting rights. Presented by the Department of Political Science and the Department of Gender Studies.


'Suffragist History of Indiana University and Monroe County,' a pop-up poster exhibition

Where: Indiana Memorial Union

This exhibit, curated by Wylie House director Carey Champion and IU Archives Director Dina Kellams, draws from multiple IU collections to highlight women and groups associated with the local suffragist movement, from local and statewide activists to national leaders who came to speak on campus. IU worked with the Monroe County History Center to find some of the information on local leaders. The exhibit includes a posters that highlight Black women who were surely active but not documented; an IU student women’s walkout on election day, 1894; and the IU Women’s League organization. 



A Yellow Rose Project digital exhibition

When & Where: August 24-28 in Media School Commons, Franklin Hall; the IMU; Hodge Hall; and the Wells Library

Over 100 women across the U.S. were invited to join in a photographic collaboration, A Yellow Rose Project. These photographers were asked to make work in response, reflection, or reaction to the ratification of the 19th Amendment to provide a focal point and platform for image-makers to share contemporary viewpoints, to gain a deeper understanding of American history and culture, and to build a bridge from the past to the present and future.

August 18, 2020, marked the centennial of the 19th Amendment. It was on that day 100 years ago women wearing yellow roses stood shoulder to shoulder in Tennessee awaiting the roll call of men that would cast their votes for or against a woman’s right to a voice in government. The bright flower was an outward symbol of their expression to gain equal representation. After decades of untold risk—through oppression, brutality, incarceration, and even starvation—women on many fronts, in their communities, on the state level as well as the national scale, fought against insurmountable odds to gain the right to be a part of the democratic process.

Though this movement granted rights to some women, and this achievement in itself is to be acknowledged and commemorated, the struggle did not end there. It was not until much later that all American women, regardless of race, were given the same privilege. Due to state laws and prohibitive policies, many women of color were unable to exercise their rights even given this momentous event. 

The project was created by Meg Griffiths and Frances Jakubek, and was brought to IU by Elizabeth M. Claffey, assistant professor of photography in the Eskenazi School and 2019-20 Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction.

Friday, August 28

'Power: Women's Political Participation in the U.S. and Around the World'

When & Where: Noon-1 p.m. virtual panel presented by the Maurer School of Law, live-streamed on the IU A&H Council’s Facebook page

This panel explores how the 19th Amendment is part of a larger — and still ongoing— struggle to ensure women can be full participants in the political process. The panelists will place the 19th Amendment in the context of earlier and later efforts to expand suffrage, including the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965; discuss the modern American landscape and the obstacles still faced by women seeking elected office; and describe how other countries have successfully used alternative voting methods and gender quotas to expand representation by women.

The panel will be moderated by Maurer Professor of Law Deborah Widiss, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs and the Ira C. Batman Faculty Fellow. Panelists include Maurer Professor of Law Luis Fuentes-Rohwer, the Class of 1950 Herman B Wells Endowed Professor; Susan Williams, the Walter W. Foskett Professor of Law; Director, Center for Constitutional Democracy; and Marjorie Hershey, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science in The College. Presented by the Maurer School of Law and the Department of Political Science.

Read Professor Hershey's paper here