- The 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was ratified on August 18, 1920.
- Suffragettes were arrested, imprisoned, and otherwise targeted as they fought for voting rights.
- However, Black women and other women of colour largely could not vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and voting rights amendments in 1975.
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Just 100 years ago, women were still barred from voting in the polls.
Suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and “General” Rosalie Jones fought for women’s voting rights through public demonstrations and political advocacy, facing arrest, jail time, and widespread harassment in order to further their cause. President Trump pardoned Susan B. Anthony on Tuesday.
It would still be decades before all women could vote, however. Black women and other women of colour faced obstacles that restricted them from voting until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and voting rights amendments in 1975.
In honour of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote, here are 19 photos of the women who helped make it possible.
Suffragettes held a parade in New York City on May 6, 1912.
Public demonstrations helped convey the message that women didn’t just belong in the home. This colorized photo shows suffragists wearing “votes for women” sashes and holding American flags as they marched.
Some women had voting rights before the 19th Amendment was passed, but most were barred from the polls.
The slogan “We were voters out west! Why deny our rights in the east?” refers to how women in the “Wild West” were not prohibited from voting. In Wyoming, for example, women had been casting ballots since 1869.
The iconic “Votes for women” sashes were a mainstay in suffragettes’ public demonstrations.
At a New York Women’s Suffrage Parade in 1913, a group of authors, dramatists, and editors donned sashes and marched with other suffragettes.
“General” Rosalie Jones earned her nickname by leading the “Suffrage Army” in marches across the US.
In 1913, suffragists led by “General” Rosalie Jones marched from New York to Washington, DC, on the eve of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. Black suffragists were forced to march in the back because organisers feared upsetting suffragists from Southern states. The protest, between 5,000 and 10,000 people, overshadowed the presidential inauguration.
Women from different parts of the US would meet up in Washington, DC, to push for voting rights.
They protested at the Capitol building in 1913 while wearing buttons and ribbons for the cause.
Demonstrators carried signs with slogans like “I wish Ma could vote.”
They also carried American flags, despite accusations that criticising the government and pushing for women’s suffrage was unpatriotic.
Another 1913 banner quoted poet Lord Alfred Tennyson: “The woman’s cause is man’s; they rise or fall together.”
Suffragists carried the banner on a hay wagon float in a parade to City Hall in New York City.
In 1917, suffragists from New York picketed outside the White House.
They held signs reading “Mr. President, you say ‘liberty is the fundamental demand of the human spirit,'” “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” and “Mr. President, you say ‘we are interested in the United States politically speaking, in nothing but human liberty.'”
Suffragist Jeannette Rankin became the first woman to hold federal office when she was elected to the House of Representatives in 1916.
Four years before the 19th Amendment was ratified, Jeannette Rankin represented her home state of Montana in the House of Representatives. She was the only member to vote against participating in both world wars.
“I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won’t be the last,” she said when she was elected in 1916.
On October 27, 1917, 20,000 suffragists marched down Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Komako Kimura, a Japanese suffragist and founder of the Real New Women’s Association (Shin Shin Fujinkai), joined the march while visiting the US to fundraise and talk strategy with American suffragettes.
The activism occasionally landed the suffragists in prison.
The National Woman’s Party was the first group to picket outside the White House, using President Wilson’s words against him on banners. At first, suffragettes were fined for blocking the footpath. After multiple fines that they refused to pay, they were eventually arrested and sentenced to prison time in Occoquan Workhouse.
Katherine Morey, a suffragist from Boston, was arrested along with Lucy Burns at a demonstration in Washington, DC, in 1917.
Their case was never brought to trial. After the “Night of Terror” where imprisoned suffragists were beaten and mistreated, the public demanded their release. Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and 20 other suffragists were let out of prison in November 1917.
After they were released from prison, the suffragists went on speaking tours while wearing their prison uniforms to share their experiences.
The National Women’s Party called the speaking tours the “Prison Special.”
Suffragists picketed outside the Metropolitan Opera House in 1919 where President Wilson was speaking to the League of Nations.
The protestors were attacked by the surrounding crowd and later arrested.
Women attended the GOP Convention in 1920 to rally support for the 19th Amendment granting them the right to vote.
They held a banner with a Susan B. Anthony quote in front of the National Women’s Party headquarters in Washington, DC: “No self respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a party that ignores her sex.”
Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment on August 13, 1920, making women’s suffrage legal throughout the US.
Alice Paul stood on the balcony of the National Women’s Party headquarters and dropped down a banner with 36 stars representing the states that ratified the amendment, which declared, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
Since alcoholic beverages were still banned under Prohibition, Alice Paul toasted the good news with grape juice.
The 18th Amendment prohibited “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors” in the US until it was repealed in 1933.
White women cast their first votes in the presidential election of November 2, 1920, but it would be decades before all women could vote.
But the 19th Amendment marked the end of one battle, and the beginning of countless more.
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