Our latest traveling exhibit, Securing the Vote: Women’s Suffrage in Indiana, explores how women across Indiana passionately labored for suffrage through countless meetings, campaigns and grassroots efforts.
Before the 1850s, Indiana women had few legal rights and no political power. In 1851, Amanda Way, a Quaker from Randolph County, decided it was time to talk about this and initiated the first Indiana Woman’s Rights Convention in Dublin, Indiana. This meeting became an annual gathering and from it came the Indiana Woman’s Rights Association.
By the 1881 session of the Indiana General Assembly, the Indiana Woman’s Rights Association and the Indianapolis Equal Suffrage Society began a letter-writing campaign urging members of Indiana legislature to devote time to suffrage. Due to these grassroots efforts, the issue of amending the state constitution to allow women to vote was presented before the assembly. While it passed the first assembly, it was blocked in the next.
By 1911, the league transitioned to campaigning for full suffrage, renaming itself the Woman’s Franchise League of Indiana. Two years later, the Equal Suffrage Association, the Woman’s Franchise League of Indiana and other statewide organizations formed the Legislative Council of Women. This group lobbied for legislation such as the Maston- McKinley Partial Suffrage Act which would allow Hoosier women to vote in presidential and local elections. The Indiana General Assembly passed the act in 1917, and nearly 40,000 women registered to vote. The act was swiftly struck down just before the November elections.
Two years later, Congress voted in favor of the 19th Amendment, giving women throughout the U.S. the right to vote. On Jan. 16, 1920, Indiana became the 26th state to adopt it, and women officially gained the right to vote on Aug. 26, 1920. Gaining the right to vote, however, was just one step in the struggle for women’s equality.
2019/2020 EXHIBIT SCHEDULE
Nov. 2 through Dec. 3 | Vigo County Public Library
Dec. 7 through Jan. 6, 2020 | Western Wayne Heritage Inc.
Feb. 4 through March 3 | Butler University Irwin Library
April 10 through May 7 | Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County | April 10 through May 7
May 12 through June 4 | Ruthmere Museum
June 6 through 30 | South Whitley Community Public Library
July 2 through 27 | Howard County Historical Society
Oct. 2 through Nov. 3 | La Porte County Public Library
Nov. 5 through Dec. 6 | Irvington Historical Society
Dec. 8 through Jan. 6, 2021 | Fairmount Public Library
Jan. 9 through Feb. 2 | Indiana Statehouse
March 10 through April 18 | Avon-Washington Township Public Library
July 29 through Aug. 20 | Jasper County Public Library
Aug. 25 through Sept. 29 | Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library
Securing the Vote: Women’s Suffrage in Indiana is a project of the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial
Catalyzed by Indiana Humanities, the Indianapolis Propylaeum, the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana Historical Bureau
With support from Lilly Endowment Inc.