The Centennial and the Thurston League -- A Summary of Celebration Activities
Based on a November 2020 LWVTC VOTER Special Edition article written by Sandra Herndon with Sue Lean. Pictures provided by Rita Robison unless otherwise noted.
The year 2020 saw the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage as well as the anniversary of the League of Women Voters. Passage of the 19th Amendment was the culmination of decades of activism and political pressure by women and men as well as jailing and beating of women at the hands of opponents.
The Thurston League took this opportunity to conduct a variety of activities to call attention to the significance of this achievement. Despite the intervention of the pandemic, League members, friends, and colleagues from several other organizations have been able (with social distancing and masks as required) to perform, wave signs, appear in period costume at public events, and communicate via Zoom.
Early in 2019 historian, exhibit designer, and long-time League member Sue Lean was tapped as LWVTC Centennial Liaison, both to connect Thurston with the state League activities as well as to coordinate our activities throughout the year. She along with long-time League member, Karen Fraser, historian Shanna Stevenson, and others put together an extensive calendar to celebrate and feature women’s right to vote and League efforts to achieve it.
Events of all kinds, involving approximately 30 people, took place at a wide variety of locations throughout 2019-2020 celebrating the passage of the 19th Amendment. Following is a timeline with a brief description of each event. Unless otherwise noted, all events took place in Washington.
May 11—“A Bee in Her Bonnet: Winning the Vote Historical Pageant,” at Olympia Salvation Army Silver Tea, and again November 19 at AAUW in Olympia
May 17—Skit “From Bloomers to Short Shorts: A Brief History of the Right to Wear Pants,” Marathon Runners Reunion Luncheon in Olympia with 1984 winner Joan Benoit Samuelson, and again January 2020 in San Diego, CA, for National Women’s History Alliance conference
May 19—Capital City Marathon: 35th Anniversary of First Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials in Olympia 1984. Theme/signage “Right to Run, Right to Vote”
June 4--US Congress passes Joint Resolution referring the 19th Amendment to be ratified by 3/4 of the then 48 States
June 6-9—League of Women Voters of Washington State, Convention in Tacoma, WA: Suffrage Programs and Presentation of Five Star Flag to Washington State Historical Society, coordinated by Sue Lean (photo of Sue Lean, Karen Fraser, and singer Linda Allen https://www.lwvwa.org/2019-Convention-Photos/102950670#photo). Thurston tabletop display featuring examples of women’s suffrage in region, coordinated by Carol Goss and Shirley Stirling (also of DAR). https://www.lwvwa.org/2019-Convention-Photos/103077602#photo
September 12—Women Vote NOW: “Honoring Suffragists of Color Who Made a Difference” in Olympia, presentation co-sponsored by LWVTC, Thurston NOW, and Zonta of South Sound https://www.suffrage100wa.com/post/women-vote-now-honoring-suffragists-of-color-who-made-a-difference-event-available-on-youtube
Fall—“Washington Women Voted before 19th Amendment,” Sue Lean interview for The Spokesman Review / League of Women Voters of Washington “Your Vote, Women’s Suffrage 1920-2020,” newspaper Special Section, Spokane, WA
September 19--"Ahead of the Curve" Exhibit Opening, Office of the WA Secretary of State in Olympia Click here for add'l info
February 14—Washington State Senate Proclamation for the Centennial of the League of Women Voters. Senators wore “Votes for Women” Sashes or White Neckties; LWVTC Suffragists in costume in balcony
February 15—Celebration of the100th Anniversary of passage of the 19th Amendment and 200th Birthday of Susan B. Anthony, at the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum, attended by over 100 elected officials, League members, and friends.
March 4—Suffrage Celebration, Capital City Newcomers’ Club Luncheon, Tumwater. Suffragists at each table spoke historically to 30 or more guests.
March 11--Suffrage yellow silk rose boutonnieres presented to men at Heritage Caucus honoring the male voters who made Washington the 5th state to enfranchise women in 1910
March 22--Centennial: Washington was the 35th State to ratify the 19th Amendment
July 4--"Static Fourth of July Parade" in Chehalis, sponsored by Daughters of the American Colonists and Daughters of the American Revolution. Cars drove by "floats" including 1st Women to Vote in WA Territory 1870, reenacted July 21. Video taken at Historical Marker at Littlerock School, Official marker dedication on October 17
July 14—Celebrating Votes for Women, 1920-2020, various regional sites including Old Capital Building, State Library Mark Twain Statue, Bread Peddler, Crosby House, Bigelow House, Deschutes Parkway
July 17--Her Flag (www.herflag.com), a national art project in which an artist's stripe for each state in order of the ratification of the 19th Amendment is sewn on in the state’s capital city, was live-streamed due to the pandemic. Washington video shown included Secretary of State Kim Wyman noting that the National Council of Women Voters formed after Washington women won the vote in 1910 was the forerunner of the National League of Women Voters. Artist Erin Shigaki created the emblematic stripe for Washington.
July 21—Re-enactment of First Women to Vote in Washington Territory 1870, Littlerock. Video taken at Historical Marker at Littlerock School, Official marker dedicated October 17.
August 18—Tennessee becomes 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment. “Dress Up and Be Seen for Suffrage”: Cars honk and drive by Victory Flags and Sign Waving at the Mark Twain Statue by the Washington State Library in Tumwater .
August—Installation of National Archives “Rightfully Hers” pop-up display featuring women’s right to vote, in Olympia City Hall for a month, followed by Lacey City Hall, Tumwater City Hall, and other local sites.
August 22 & 26--Suffrage Victory Banners and new enlarged 19th Amendment Stamp, held at Lacey, Westside and Olympia Post Offices
August 23—“Dress Up and Be Seen for Suffrage” on the Percival Landing Boardwalk in Olympia by the Kissing Statue with Be a Voter signs; "A Salute to Suffragists of Color"; the 1848 First Women Rights Convention by the Motherhood Statue
August 26-- Equality Day: Centennial of U.S. Secretary of State signing of the ratification papers from Tennessee; Voting rights for women become the law of the land. “Dress Up and Be Seen for Suffrage” at the Olympia Post Office and the Old Capitol Building
August 26--Olympia was the last stop on the Washington History (virtual) Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour featuring a video with short reenactments of historical women as well as presentations at the Bigelow House by numerous local women leaders, including Squaxin Island Tribe Leader Charlene Krise, Thurston Black Alliance Founder Thelma Jackson, and Thurston League President Karen Tvedt: