“People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.” - Dorothy Day
Celebrating the 19th Amendment and Voting Resources at the Library
by Brandon Priddy, Public Services Librarian
To put it mildly, 2020 isn’t going to win any awards, but one positive thing is the distinction of marking the 100th anniversary of the landmark passage of the 19th Amendment, which prohibits states and the federal government from denying the right to vote on the basis of sex. You can read the full amendment at constitutioncenter.org. The New York Times published an excellent article, “Suffrage at 100: A Visual History” that traces the history of suffrage and the people who fought hard to make it happen. “The story of the Suffrage movement usually starts like this: In July 1848, a group of people got together in Seneca Falls, N.Y. and set forth a series of demands for women’s rights, including the right to vote. But the history of women and voting in the United States extended well before, and beyond, Seneca Falls.” You can view portraits, documents, and photos of unique items, such as a 1900 Valentine’s Day card, a yellow umbrella, stamps, and pins, all advocating for the right for women to vote.
You can also learn interesting facts, such as: “Wyoming Territory was the first place in the United States to pass a women’s suffrage measure, in 1869. Officials there stood firm in their commitment to suffrage, even when it later threatened their petition for statehood.” You should also check out their excellent article “Meet the Brave but Overlooked Women of Color Who Fought for the Vote.” If you do not have a subscription to the Times, you can access it via Library access here. Sharon Bruni, our Associate Director for Public Services, compiled a great booklist celebrating the 100th anniversary here.
The New York Historical Society created a free online women’s history collection called “Women and the American Story” (WAMS). Each section “includes an introduction, high-resolution images or 3D renderings, relevant documents or artifacts from the museum’s collection, descriptions of these resources providing historical context, discussion questions, and biographical portraits of key figures in the movement.” The Institute of Museum and Library Services has compiled a great list called “100 Years of Voting: Honoring the Legacy of Suffragists” that includes institutions celebrating women with art exhibitions and historical collections. You can see the full list here.
I also wanted to share a unique resource, The Most Perfect Album which features “27+ songs inspired by the 27 Amendments” and the album is like “a Constitutional mix-tape, a Schoolhouse Rock for the 21st century.” Beloved music icon Dolly Parton performs the song dedicated to the 19th Amendment. You can download the songs for free legally here.
A healthy democracy depends on citizens exercising their right to vote, but it can be a confusing process if you’re unfamiliar with it or are unsure of your registration status. Did you know you can check your voter registration status online or by phone? Visit this website or call 1-877-VOTESPA to check your status today. Pennsylvania also allows voting by mail, so if you’re high risk or feel uncomfortable visiting a polling place, you can request a mail-in ballot. You can find the Pennsylvania Application for mail-in ballot here. If you do not have access to a computer or printer, Library staff can print one out for you and arrange a contact free curbside pickup appointment for you. Remember, if you do a mail-in ballot it must be received by your county election office by 5:00PM on Tuesday, October 27th 2020. So good luck and remember what our forefathers and mothers fought for and honor them by exercising your rights by voting!