100 years ago, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. constitution
was ratified, restoring women’s legal right to vote. Her Vote. Her Story.
celebrates this significant milestone. Many women — and men —organized,
protested, penned pamphlets, created politically-charged cookbooks, endured
prison, and braved hunger strikes to support the cause. Did you know that local
educator and Mercer girl Elizabeth “Lizzie” Ordway was a leader in Washington’s
Her Vote. Her Story. shines a light on the national,
state, and local impact including what it means for women today.
From my experience in local government and at the state
level, women’s voices make a difference in the kinds of policies that are
looked at and the kinds of discussions that occur.
Washington State Senator Christine Rolfes shared this perspective when interviewed for the exhibit. Rolfes is one of 10 Bainbridge Island women who shared their voting stories for this project.
Although a significant step towards equality, the 19th
Amendment, when ratified, mostly benefited educated white women. Native
Americans and many Asian Americans were denied citizenship, and therefore,
women in those communities were not eligible to vote. Longstanding
discriminatory practices, such as poll taxes and literary tests prevented women
of color and uneducated women from exercising their legal right to vote. And
so, in the century since the ratification of the Amendment, many more
initiatives, laws, and amendments have been passed to assure equal access to
voting for all women and men. In fact, the fight continues. Voting
rights are largely decided by each state. While some states are expanding
voting access, others are cutting back.
Please join us this spring for our eye-opening new exhibit. Dig into a suffrage timeline. Compare national, state, and local voting statistics. Delight in a suffrage quilt made on the Island. Make a campaign button. And before you go, be sure to share your voting story.
Brianna Kosowitz is Executive Director of the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum. A newcomer to the Pacific Northwest, Brianna originally hails from Upstate New York. She fell in love with museums after a stint with her hometown’s Corning Museum of Glass. Prior to her current leadership with the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, she spent five years with Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. As the head of Visitor Experience, she oversaw 500 volunteers and increased overall satisfaction ratings for 4 million visitors annually. Brianna holds a Master’s degree in Public History from American University in Washington, DC.