Hoosier women won the right to vote on Aug. 26, 1920. At first glance, the meaning behind that statement is simple. But the real story goes much deeper. In Indiana, almost 70 years passed between the first calls for women’s voting rights and the passage of the 19th Amendment. And, though momentous, 1920 is just one milestone in a long and ongoing journey and access to the voting booth is just one part of what it means to be an equal part of the democratic process.
Starting this spring and summer, the Women’s Suffrage Centennial is being celebrated throughout Indiana and America. Aug. 26 has been designated Women’s Equality Day. Syracuse has designated the week of Aug. 23-29 as Women’s Suffrage Centennial Celebration with Chautauqua-Wawasee putting on a number of events, teaming with the Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum, Syracuse Public Library, Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber and Indiana Humanities.
The first program is a presentation by Melissa Gentry titled “From Seneca Falls to Seymour and South Bend: Mapping Indiana’s Suffrage History” which asks the question “What can we learn by mapping Indiana’s women’s suffrage movement and its leaders?” Her program, based on story maps, reveals that Indiana — and Hoosier suffragists in particular — were ideologically, economically, racially and socially diverse. Gentry’s multimedia story maps depict some of the people and places connected to the history of women’s suffrage.
Gentry is the map collection supervisor at the Ball State University Libraries’ Geographic Information System Research and Map Collection, where she provides instruction programs and curates special exhibits for Ball State University and the Muncie community. This first program will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26, at the Oakwood Resort Inn.
The following Saturday, Aug. 29, will feature two programs, one in the morning, and one midday. The morning will be a children’s program, led by Margo Wilson from 10-11 a.m. at the Syracuse Public Library. Following that, starting at 11:30 a.m., an ice cream social is planned for Lakeside Park at the gazebo. The ice cream will be provided by Joe’s Ice Cream. The event will also feature suffragists and a brief historical presentation by Beth Beams.
The fourth program will be a presentation by Marsha Miller titled “From Amanda to Zerelda: Hoosier Suffragists Who Raised A Ruckus.” This presentation explores the chronological history of women’s suffrage in Indiana through historical costume and a suffragist song or two. Miller introduces Hoosier women who helped shape the movement, including Amanda Way, Grace Julian Clarke, Mary Garrett Hay, Helen Cougar, Zerelda Wallace and May Wright Sewall with a special focus on Ida Husted Harper and Eugene and Kate Debs. Miller has taught more than 4,800 information literacy sessions at Indiana State University and coordinates library social media. This presentation will be at the Syracuse Community Center on Saturday, Sept. 5 from 2-3:30 p.m.
More details will be provided by a series of historical articles starting later this summer. Details are available on the Chautauqua-Wawasee website (www.CHQW.org) or Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChautauquaWawasee. Chautauqua-Wawasee is a Syracuse-based nonprofit organization that provides cultural enrichment and entertainment through programs focused on the arts, education, faith and recreation.