Celebrating the National Suffrage Centennial

In 1920, after a decades-long battle, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote. This August marks the National Suffrage Centennial, and to celebrate, the Washington State Historical Society (WSHS) is launching the virtual Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour.

Women in Washington won the right to vote in 1910, ten years before national women’s suffrage was enacted. This year’s celebration is “thematically based on the real life 1909 Suffrage Special train which carried local and national suffragists across our state from Spokane to Seattle in support of Washington women and their fight for the vote,“ explained Mary Mikel Stump, WSHS’s director of audience engagement.

The “tour” is an eight-episode video series that explores our state’s connections to history of women’s suffrage, and honors Washington’s women changemakers both then and today. The video series will make eight virtual “whistle stops” from August 19 through 26. August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, the date that the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified. Each segment will be hosted by a local historical organization, exploring women’s suffrage history in their geographic region, its legacy, and ties to national women’s suffrage efforts.

The Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour schedule includes:

August 19 – Spokane

August 20 – Tri-Cities/Walla Walla

August 21 – Yakima/Ellensburg

August 22 – Vancouver

August 23 – Bellingham

August 24 – Seattle

August 25 – Tacoma

August 26 – Olympia

“In reconsidering how best to recognize the centennial festivities, we reached out to partners across the state and developed the Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour based on an action that women in 1909 took to promote voting rights,” said Elisa Law, the WSHS women’s suffrage centennial coordinator. “Suffragists from across the country rode a train dubbed the Suffrage Special. It terminated in Seattle where the National Suffrage Convention was held at the same time as the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition. It was an important time in the fight for women’s suffrage. Our Whistle Stop Tour will be an interesting way for people to commemorate women’s fight for the right to vote and that legacy today, 100 years later. The virtual delivery allows access for many people who might not have been able to make it to an on-ground event in Olympia.” 

The Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour video series will be released on both the @washingtonhistory and @suffrage100wa Facebook pages and will be uploaded to WashingtonHistory.org.