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Celebrate Suffrage in Style with a Porch Party

September 3, 2020

Ever wanted to party like a suffragist? Well, now’s your chance.

In the years leading up to the ratification of the 19th Amendment, suffragists found all types of ways to spread their message and fight for the right to vote. In June of 1912, they found a social way to give their cause a boost – the “Fun Fest.” Sometimes referred to as lawn parties or porch parties, this Fun Fest was held outside, on the lawn of senator Charles Fairbanks’ home in Indianapolis.

The day-long party included Dutch dancing, a pageant, parade, festive foods, libations, banners and both men and women demanding “votes for women.” This summer fete, and other porch parties like it, were a source of fun and relaxation, as well as an opportunity for suffragists to get together to practice their debating and oratory skills.

While not every porch party, lawn party or fun fest was the same, they were consistently a place to build comradery and to help suffragists feel connected to one another.  In those ways, your celebration porch party can be just like the suffragists.

There is no recipe for a perfect porch party – not a specific menu, color scheme, playlist or theme. In the early 1900’s, porch party menus varied from tea and sandwiches to ice cream and lemonade on particularly hot mornings. You could celebrate it on your porch while your neighbors celebrate on theirs, have virtual porch parties or a porch party for one. The options are limitless!

On Friday September 4, we hope you’ll hold your own porch parties as the perfect way to celebrate 100 years of voting in Indiana. We’ve teamed up with our friends from the Harrison Center from the Arts (Indianapolis’ experts on porch parties) to give you all the tools to create a social but distanced experience. We can’t wait to see what you put together! Share the party with us using #suffrageblockparty or #porchparty.

Regan Steimel Regan Steimel is a graduate student at IUPUI and works in the education and community engagement department at the Indiana Historical Society. She enjoys riding her bike along the cultural trail and spending time with friends and family.

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