Contact: Kara O’Keeffe
Madison, Wis. – On June 10, 1919, Wisconsin officially became the first state to ratify the 19th amendment which would give women the right to vote. To celebrate the centennial anniversary of this important date, the Wisconsin Historical Society along with the WI 19th Amendment Centennial Celebration Committee and the Women of the 104th Legislature session will hold a celebration at the State Capitol on Monday, June 10, 2019, with speakers and an opportunity for the public to view Wisconsin’s original 19th amendment document, which will be on display for one day only.
“When Wisconsin ratified the 19th amendment, it was also the first state to fully certify their approval in Washington D.C. for the rights of citizens of the United States to vote and not be denied by the nation or the states on account of gender,” said Christian Overland, Ruth and Hartley Barker director of the Wisconsin Historical Society. “As the state’s premier storyteller of history, we are supporting this centennial celebration, to serve as a call to action for all citizens of Wisconsin to think about the importance of voting rights and how we use our vote today.”
Starting at noon on June 10, 2019, guests are invited to gather in the Capitol building to hear from the First Lady of Wisconsin and chair of the WI 19th Amendment Centennial Celebration Committee, Kathy Evers, the Honorable Rebecca Kleefisch, executive director of Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission and the Honorable Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. Christian Overland along with descendants of Wisconsin suffragists will unveil Wisconsin’s original 19th amendment which will be on display in the Capitol from noon until 10:00 pm. Attendees are encouraged to wear suffragist white as a respectful and visual tribute to suffragists and their fight for women’s rights.
Also on display throughout the day will be a tunic, buttons and sashes from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s collection. From 1:00-3:00 pm, guests are invited to join the Women Members of the 104th Legislative Session for a public reception in the State Assembly Parlor.
“I’m proud that my daughters and granddaughters have been raised in the first state to ratify the 19th amendment. I’m proud of the strong Wisconsin women and men who, 100 years ago, battled to extend the right to vote to women. And I’m proud to join with other women and men from around our state, to honor and celebrate their leadership and legacy,” said Kathy Evers, First Lady of the State of Wisconsin.
The struggle for women’s suffrage in Wisconsin lasted for over 70 years. Throughout those decades, Wisconsin legislatures introduced dozens of bills that would have granted state and local voting rights to women but the bills needed to pass two consecutive legislatures before being submitted to the people of Wisconsin as a referendum.
After decades of activism, in 1919, the United States Congress finally passed a proposal to amend the Constitution and grant women the right to vote in all elections. As with all amendments it needed to be ratified by thirty-six states in order to be approved. From that day on, suffrage supporters in each state had to petition their state legislatures to approve the amendment.
On June 10, 1919, Wisconsin legislators voted to ratify the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which would give women the right to vote. On June 13, 1919, Wisconsin Senator David James of Richland Center reported to the proper bureau in Washington, DC, to file Wisconsin’s ratification documents making Wisconsin the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment.
“As we prepare to celebrate voting rights for women nationally during the upcoming year, I am delighted that Wisconsin led the nation in the ratification process,” said Kleefisch. “This event gives us another great reason to be proud of our state’s rich history.”
“It is important to celebrate the women of Wisconsin and the nation who fought hard for this historic action,” said Bradley. “This also motivated women across Wisconsin to start running for political offices and paved the way for the countless number of women who have followed in their footsteps.”
For more information visit wisconsinhistory.org/votesforwomen.