Women's Suffrage Centennial 1920-2020
In 2020, it will be 100 years since the United States signed women's suffrage into law with the 19th Amendment. To commemorate this important heritage, Humanities New York will foster a statewide dialogue about the lasting legacy of women’s suffrage, and how it continues to shape American democracy today.
Humanities New York is bringing the people, places and ideas of the women’s suffrage movement to life. From 2016-2017, Humanities New York awarded over $458K to New York tax-exempt organizations for Centennial themed activities that explore the diversity of individuals and ideas that contributed to this grassroots movement. In particular, Humanities New York has supported projects that connect contemporary concerns (civil rights, gender diversity, equality, and civic engagement) to the legacy of women's suffrage.
Centennial Calendars of Events
Events inspired by the figures and history of women’s suffrage are happening all across New York in 2017. Here are a few comprehensive online calendars to get you started:
Humanities New York Calendar is a list of cultural and humanities events across New York State, including events funded by Humanities New York and that of our Centennial Partners. Event submissions are welcome for affordable public projects inspired by the legacy of suffragists in NY, particularly events that draw on the contemporary relevance of this history.
The New York History Blog, edited by John Warren, features news, upcoming events, and highlighting days of significance for Women's history and other themes.
New York State Women’s Suffrage Commission official website. Sponsored by Commission Chair Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and includes a calendar of events open to submissions as well.
Women’s History, New York State: A listing of “Cultural Events, Sporting, Craft Fairs, Historical, Tours, Festivals, Workshop and more!” related to women’s history. This calendar is open to submissions.
Humanities New York Resources
Plan a Centennial Project
Apply for a $1,500 Vision Grant to gather advisors, partners, humanities experts, and community leaders to develop and plan Centennial activities. Coordinated marketing and outreach strategies are welcome.
Launch a Centennial Project
Apply for a $5,000 Action Grant to support events, discussions, media and digital projects that explore the legacy of women's suffrage for public audiences. Activities that feature under-represented voices and are designed in response to community's needs are encouraged.
"Votes for Women!" Reading & Discussion theme
Engage your community in the history and relevance of the suffrage movement through selected readings.
“Democracy” Community Conversation
A toolkit to inspire the next generation to become civically engaged citizens.
Centennial Toolkit for Orgs and Educators to Get Involved in the Centennial
Want to bring the history of women's suffrage to life in your community? Humanities New York created this Centennial Toolkit for groups and individuals looking to start or enhance upcoming projects. Explore this toolkit for engaging content ideas, educational resources, and conversation starters. Be sure to also browse funding opportunities, calls for proposals, and upcoming professional development meetings to bring your work to the next level.
The Centennial Toolkit was inspired by the LWVNY Suffrage and Women’s History Resources List. Thank you to Laura Ladd Bierman and Dare Thompson for your leadership and generosity! For more information about the League, see our interview with Laura and Dare on our blog. Additional contributors include Humanities New York’s recent grantees and our amazing Centennial Partners.
The NYS Women’s Suffrage Centennial resonates with historical, arts, cultural and community organizations statewide who are exploring this diverse legacy. Below are Humanities New York’s Centennial grantees organized by region:
[email protected]: Race, Denial, Privilege and Who Matters (2017 Action Grant), Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, Inc.: In our increasingly polarized society, the symbol of the 19th c. Underground Railroad movement and its abolition activists challenge us to publicly reflect and act upon the legacy of the institution of slavery in contemporary times. To register, visit their website.
+ Professional Development
Graveside Chats Volume II (2017 Action Grant),Historic St. Agnes Cemetery: In these chats, community theater actors portray people living between 1840 and 1940 and bring to life stories relating to historical themes and cultural norms of a bygone era.
Perfect Work: Sisterhood in the North Family (2017 Vision Grant), Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon: This guided tour will be an immersive exploration of the lives and status of women in a Shaker family.
Votes for Women (2017 Action Grant), Siena College Creative Arts Program: Votes for Women is an immersive promenade performance devised and performed by Siena College students and faculty, celebrating the centenary of women achieving the right to vote in New York State.
Two Activist Movements as One: Abolition and Suffrage in Local History (2017 Action Grant), Hudson Area Association Library: Hudson Community Schools' Writing Center high school students will research the local history of abolition and suffrage with the Hudson Area Library's History Room and the Underground Railroad History Project and will present publicly at the library.
Whose Side Are You On? Suffrage and Anti-Suffrage in Albany (2017 Action Grant), Historic Cherry Hill: The 18th Annual Albany History Fair will explore the women's suffrage debate in Albany, featuring Cherry Hill's Emily Rankin, an ardent anti-suffragist. The fair will include presentations, a panel of women in politics today, and voter registration.
Central New York
Seen and Heard: An Active Commemoration of Women’s Suffrage in New York (2017 Vision Grant), Everson Museum: This exhibit will illustrate how New York’s role in the fight for women’s rights serves as catalyst for civic engagement. The exhibition, public programs, artist residencies, and student projects will explore the language and tactics of protest through the arts.
Because of Women Like Her - Winning the Vote in New York State (2017 Action Grant), Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library: A community-wide exhibition that tells the story of the diverse people and disparate ideas of New York State's woman suffrage movement, focusing on the contributions of the Rochester region.
The Influence of Haudenosaunee Women on Women’s Suffrage in New York State (2017 Action Grant), Friends of Ganondagan: A film on the influence of Haudenosaunee women on the women’s suffrage movement in NYS, the under-recognized history of that relationship, women's roles and responsibilities, and the importance of balance and cooperation in the Haudenosaunee culture.
+ Centennial Film
Votes for Women! (2017 Action Grant), The Kingfisher Theater, Inc.: Witness a moment in the journey toward Woman’s Suffrage with this production of Elizabeth Robin’s rarely-performed 1907 play, Votes for Women!, now set in the near future. Socialite Beatrice sees what can happen to women who lack the right to vote.
Women's History Month Film Series: Honoring Trailblazing Women (2017 Action Grant), Little Theatre Film Society: This film series honors trailblazing women, celebrating their accomplishments and exposing the gender injustices that still permeate our world. Screenings happen every Sunday in March and on International Women's Day.
Women's Suffrage in Wayne County, N.Y. 1848-1920: A Rural and Small Village Perspective (2017 Vision Grant), Wayne County Historical Society: The project will provide Wayne County historians an opportunity to explore the historical elements of the suffrage movement of this area and the development of a plan to study Women’s Suffrage as it relates to this region.
HVSF Community Playwriting Series: "Forward Foward Sisters" (2017 Action Grant), Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival: HVSF and a cohort of libraries and academics will produce a Community Playwriting Series to channel our diverse community’s desire to learn about writing. The community writers will use the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage as their inspiration.
Constructing Gender (2017 Action Grant), Oneida Community Mansion House: Gender identity and sexuality are controversial public discussions in America today. The 19th century Oneida Community believed that sexual practices were foundational to communities and their concept of gender challenged mainstream American society.
Memory Dialogues: Using Oral Histories to Initiate Conversations with Residents of Adult Homes (2017 Vision Grant), SUNY Cooperstown Graduate Program: This pilot project will utilize oral history interviews to initiate conversations with residents and caregivers in area adult homes about topics with broad social significance. It will result in a replicable model for use in other organizations.
+ Statewide Resource
OPL's 2017 Centenary Celebration of Women's Suffrage in N.Y.S. (2017 Action Grant), Oneida Public Library: This celebration includes lectures, a filmed documentary about women professionals, a children’s program, an adult reading/discussion series, a readers theater play and a community read.
New York City
Beyond Suffrage: 100 Years of Women and Politics in New York (2017 Action Grant), Museum of the City of New York: In fall 2017, the Museum of the City of New York will present Beyond Suffrage: 100 Years of Women & Politics in New York, a special exhibition that chronicles the history of women’s political activism in New York, starting with the suffrage movement.
Gwendolyn Brooks & June Jordan: Black Writers of Conscience (2017 Action Grant), Center for Black Literature, Medgar Evers College, City University of New York: A series of events that focus on the work and lives of poet laureate Gwendolyn Brooks and poet and literary activist June Jordan.
Jailed for Freedom (2017 Action Grant), Drama Club, Inc.: The Young Women of Riker’s Island will write and perform an original piece based on the 1917 “Night of Terror,” where 33 suffragettes were imprisoned in the Occoquan Workhouse for protesting Woodrow Wilson’s White House to demand votes for women.
Women's Suffrage and the Media (2017 Action Grant), NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute: Women’s Suffrage and the Media will be a multimedia resource site and database timed to the 2017 NY state centennial and to popularize a forthcoming special issue of American Journalism, timed to the US Constitution’s 19th Amendment centennial.
Liberated Ladies - A Musical Perspective (2017 Action Grant), Ticonderoga Historical Society: This program explores women’s suffrage from the 1860s to the present day. A cabaret-style presentation utilizing song and spoken word, the program will entertain and inform about the fight for women’s right to vote in New York State.
Adirondack Suffragists: Celebrating 100 Years of Votes for Women (2017 Action Grant), Essex County Historical Society-Adirondack History Museum: Adirondack Women were leaders in battle to gain "Votes for Women" in 1917. The Adirondack History Museum will preserves, document and celebrate the role and accomplishments of those women with a Suffrage Exhibit, Lectures, and Film Festival in 2017.
Four Plays, 100 Years: A Celebration of Women's Suffrage (2017 Vision & Action Grants), Hangar Theatre: The Hangar Theatre, Kitchen Theatre Company, Civic Ensemble, and The Cherry Artspace collaborate to present four world premieres of plays commissioned for the women's suffrage movement with themes of democracy, voter rights, and representation.
Beyond the Votes: New York State and the Women's Suffrage Movement (2017 Action Grant), South Central Regional Library Council: This online exhibit with a complementary traveling exhibit will focus on lesser known stories surrounding women and their right to vote in New York State, leading up to and beyond 1917.
+ Traveling Exhibition
GlassBarge Seneca Falls Program Planning (2017 Vision Grant), Corning Museum of Glass: In partnership with the Women's Rights National Historical Park & National Women's Hall of Fame, the Corning Museum of Glass will develop an interpretive strategy for Seneca Falls to celebrate the Centennial of Women's Suffrage in NYS and showcase contemporary women glass artists at work.
"The Network initiated the Women’s Rights and Heritage Committee three years ago to begin work for the 2017 Women’s Suffrage 100th Anniversary event. The Centennial took us from 13 members to 106 and now to 161 participants. The most important segment however, is the opportunity for hundreds of suffrage supporters to share stories and past events in several constructive settings like our Seneca Falls conferences, our monthly conference calls and producing increased information for our suffrage website. This is a time to reflect and learn from the past and be ready to take positive steps for women’s equality not only in 2017 but, for as long as the United States endures."- Lynn "Spike" Herzig
Strategic Organizational Sustainability
June 7, 2017 @ Colgate University, Hamilton
Organized by New York Cultural Heritage Tourism Network this conference is designed “for organizations, businesses and private sector interests to become active participants in their communities through regional economic development.”
2020: Commitment to the Vision, Women’s Suffrage Conference
November 4, 2017 @ Cultural Education Center, Albany
Organized by the Women’s Rights and Heritage Committee of the New York Cultural Heritage Tourism Network, co-sponsored by Generations Bank, NYS Archives Partnership Trust, [email protected], and Humanities New York. This statewide conference provide an opportunity to learn about the richly diverse history of the era of women’s suffrage in New York State.For more information about these convenings, visit their website or email [email protected].
New York Cultural Heritage Tourism Network also manages the Women’s History of New York State website to recognize and promote women’s heritage in New York State. Browse their lists of attractions, cultural heritage trails, biographies of historical figures, and event listings, to find places to visit and activities happening near you. To submit your events, use this form.
Humanities NY is pleased to work with a variety of Centennial Partners to ensure the Centennial serves all New Yorkers. Centennial Partners help spread the word about funding opportunities from Humanities NY and share upcoming events with the public.
2017 Centennial Partners
Become a Sponsor: Sponsorship includes name recognition online and in print, and public acknowledgement at flagship events. Email Scarlett Rebman, Grants Officer at [email protected] to learn more.
In November, 2015, Governor Cuomo signed the bill to establish the New York State Women's Suffrage 100th Commemoration Commission.
The goal of the Commission is to plan and coordinate a series of statewide programs that celebrate the accomplishment of women's suffrage and the central role of New Yorkers and New York State in this milestone. The 14-member commission took effect on April 1, 2016 and will be active through 2020. Humanities NY is represented on the commission by Kathleen Neville, who has served on the Board of Directors since 2012, the same year she became Chair of the U.S. Commissioners to the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission in Buffalo, NY.
- Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Chair (appointed by Governor Cuomo)
- Kathleen Neville, Board Member, Humanities New York
- Senator Betty Little
- Senator Velmanette Montgomery
- Howard Zemsky, Commissioner, NYS Department of Economic Development; President & CEO, Empire State Development
- Noemi “Ami” Gazala, Superintendent, Women's Rights National Historical Park
- Rose Harvey, Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
- RoAnn Destito, Commissioner, NYS Office of General Services
- Eve Waltermaurer, Director of Research and Evaluation, SUNY New Paltz’s The Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives
- Christina Lotz, Representative of the Assembly Minority
- Jennifer Lemak, Representative of NYS Education Department
- Susan Zimet, President of 2020: Project Women, Inc.
- Sally Roesch Wagner, Executive Director, Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation
- Deborah Hughes, President & CEO, Susan B. Anthony Museum and House
- Dare Thompson, President, League of Women Voters of New York State
For full biographies, visit the Women’s Suffrage Commission’s official website.
- June 2015: Two bills establishing the commission (A01019A/S02388-A) passed unanimously by both the New York State Assembly and New York State Senate thanks to the support from Senator Little and Assemblymember Gunther.
- November 2015: Governor Cuomo signs the bills into law.
- March 1, 2016: Governor Cuomo appointed Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul to the Commission and proclaimed March Women's History month in New York.
- August 22, 2016: the Commission held its first meeting at The M'Clintock House in Waterloo, NY where Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul was nominated Chair.
- March 1, 2017: Commission met at Albany, NY to unveil the new website and outline plans for the year ahead.
In the coming years, Humanities NY looks forward to working closely with the Commission to support cultural heritage sites and community groups for whom the legacy of women's rights history in New York State deeply resonates.
In partnership with WCNY, HNY produced 5, two-minute videos about suffrage history. These videos highlight the history of individuals and sites from the Central New York and Finger Lakes regions: Seneca Falls; suffragists Emily Howland, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Frederick Douglass; and the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse. These brief vignettes would make a great warm-up activity at the beginning of a lesson. They are available for free here and as a playlist on Humanities New York's YouTube Channel.