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Women's Equality Day - August 26

Download "Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be" for free! (Right now, no kiddin')

Music: Suffrage era sing-along songsheets and MP3s

Brief History of the Women's Suffrage Movement

2020 Suffrage Centennial

Links to related sites

Books & Videos
NEW! The Women's March on Washington 2017, and Still They Persist: Protest Art from the 2017 Women's Marches

Updated 8/02/2017 // Email // Copyright 2002 Gerri Gribi

About the author:
Gerri Gribi
is an award-winning musician, historian and educator who brings the "unsung" history of women and minorities to life. Her CD The Womansong Collection features 24 woman-positive traditional and composed songs with historical notes and lyrics, and has been enthusiastically reviewed at home and abroad. She travels North America performing her one-woman show A Musical Romp Through Women's History. Learn More

A Brief History of the Suffrage Movement and Women's Equality Day

On July 13, 1848, five women met for tea in upstate New York. Having commiserated about the lot of women in American society, they did something brash and wonderful...they sent off a notice to the local newspaper announcing "a convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious conditions and rights of woman" to be held just six days later in Seneca Falls.

The Women's Rights Movement was born!

Perhaps inspired by the sovereignty of Iroquois women, (See Sally Roesch Wagner) convention participants drafted a Declaration of Sentiments which began: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, That all men and women are created equal..." One of the resolutions called for universal women's suffrage. One hundred women and men from all walks of life signed that Declaration. Only one, nineteen-year-old Charlotte Woodward, lived to see women win the vote.

On August 26, 1920, after a 72-year struggle, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the U.S. was finally ratified, granting women the right to vote nationwide. The actual text:

Section 1. The right of the 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.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

In 1977, President Carter designated August 26 as Women's Equality Day, as a reminder of women's continuing efforts for equality. Read the Proclamation

The Equal Rights Amendment is still awaiting ratification in 15 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. Learn more at ERA Campaign Network

Did you know: August 26 was also Geraldine Ferraro's birthday! (Ferraro was the first female vice-presidential candidate for a major political party, running in 1984 on the Democratic ticket with Walter Mondale.) Thanks to Elaine Miller, producer of the video Running Mate for reminding me.

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Music to Celebrate

Suffrage Singalong Sheet - (pdf)

Just download and print my free handout, and your group can travel back in time by singing 3 authentic Suffrage-era songs! Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be; Keep Woman in Her Sphere (Auld Lang Syne); and New America (America.)

Federation Song (Tune: Battle Hymn of the Republic) - Songsheet (pdf)

Historically sung at meetings of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, set to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Songs of the Suffragettes Folkways Records #FH5281. First recorded in the 1958 and reissued in 1995, with excellent liner notes about the women's suffrage movement.

The "Spirit of 1776: A New Suffragette Anthem" Music Video (2014)

The National Federation of Press Women awarded the "Spirit of 1776" music video with a second prize in its video category.  The music video is inspired by the “Spirit of 1776” suffrage wagon that’s in the collection of the New York State Museum. The production pays tribute to suffragist Edna Kearns who used the “Spirit of 1776” wagon for organizing and in suffrage parades.

Kearns symbolizes the combined efforts of tens of thousands of activists across the nation who participated in the U.S. women’s suffrage movement in both state campaigns as well as the final push to win ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. The suffrage movement took 72 years from 1848 to 1920.

Hurrah For Woman Suffrage! Cassette or CD, with notes/lyrics. The Homespun Singers. Miriam Reed Productions. P.O. Box 2781, Beverly Hills, CA 90213. (917) 710-2354

Miriam Reed presents one-woman shows about early feminists, including Margaret Sanger, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. This Cd or cassette (which is featured in the gift shop at the Seneca Falls National Historic Site) contains 17 suffrage-era songs performed by Homespun Singers. The songs date from 1840 to 1920, with simple, authentic arrangements your group can easily sing along with. A lyric sheet is also available. To order, or to learn more about Miriam Reed's performances, visit Miriam Reed Productions.

Wolff, Francie. Give the Ballot to the Mothers: Songs of the Suffragists. Denlinger's Publishers, LTD, Ozark Division, Springfield MO 1998. Available at

I can't recommend this book highly enough! It's the first to publish songs AND their music together under one cover, and also includes color reproductions for some of the original sheet music covers. As if that weren't enough, there are also excellent historical notes for each song, and it has a spiral binding to make it easy to use as a songbook.

Also available is the excellent 30-minute documentary of the same title which was highly recomended by Library Journal. It is $35, or can be purchased along with the songbook for a total of $60. For further information contact Francie Wolff. Wolffwhispers; 1160 S. Maryland; Springfield, MO 65807. (phone/fax: 417-869-2666).

Suffragist Sheet Music: An Illustrated Catalogue of Published Music Associated with the Women's Rights and Suffrage Movement in America, 1795-1921, with Complete Lyrics Available at

I haven't yet received a review copy of this, so I'm just noting its publication.

Ethel Smyth, Mass in D includes "March of the Women" Available at

Dame Ethel Smyth was a British composer and suffragist. The phrase "Shoulder to Shoulder," (title of a BBC series in 1975) comes from her song "March of the Women," the anthem of the British woman suffrage movement composed in 1911. Hear it on YouTube.

Here's to the Women! Linda Allen. October Rose Productions, 2010. Available at

This new CD from Linda Allen is filled with inspiring songs about inspiring women. Comprised mostly of original songs, there are a few traditional ones here, or modern words set to traditional tunes. Either way, they all celebrate Herstory. I especially liked Linda's lyrical update to a Suffrage song I myself recorded 25 years ago, Oh Dear, What Can The Matter Be? She uses it to question a myth too many people believe today, namely that all women's issues have been resolved.

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Suffrage Centennial 2020


" is a multi-media platform and clearing house for information, announcements, and features about local, state, national, and international suffrage celebrations, programs, performances, events, news and views. Regular postings, plus video and audio highlights. National Federation of Press Women honors in 2015 with media award.

"Marguerite Kearns is the editor of the award-winning that has been publishing since 2013. 888-303-7471."

The Women's History Alliance will be working for the next 4 years to have Women's Equality Day 2020 declared a federal holiday.

Recommended Women's Suffrage / Equality Day Links

National Women's History Project

Visit this site to read the Presidential Proclamation and to order a "no fuss" celebration kit. They also maintain a list of performers and speakers for both Women's Equalty Day and Women's History all year round.

Votes for Women: Spirit of 1776 Suffrage Campaign Wagon

Edna Buckman Kearns worked with the Suffrage Movement and became active in the New York State campaign as well as the national campaign with Alice Paul. Her granddaughter Marguerite grew up curious about an artifact from the family's heritage, Edna's "suffrage wagon" named Spirit of 1776 which now resides at the New York State Museum. Marguerite believes that by telling her family story, the saga of woman’s suffrage will be more accessible to the increasing numbers of people who are hungry to learn more about this part of our history.

This well-written and thoughtful blog spotlights related news today, and demonstrates that we still stand on the shoulders of our foremothers.

Teaching With Documents: Women's Suffrage and the 19th Amendment

Historical documents, teaching activities, and a script that the National Archives comissioned about the decades long struggle entitled "Failure is Impossible" serve as valuable teaching tools.

A History of theWomen's Suffrage Movement, maintained by the Susan B Anthony Center at the University of Rochester.

Timeline of the Suffrage Movement

Covers 1637 to 1920.

The Sewall-Belmont House and Museum and Digital Collection

The museum is the headquarters of the historic National Woman's Party and was the Washington home of its founder and Equal Rights Amendment author Alice Paul. The National Woman's Party Digital Collection offers visitors a first-hand look at the extraordinary documentation of the suffrage and equal rights movements.

Women's Rights National Historical Park

This park commemorates women's struggle for equal rights, and the first Women's Rights Convention, held at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, NY on July 19 & 20, 1848. Now you can visit their Online Visitors Center.

"Not For Ourselves Alone" (PBS Resource Website to accompany the video)

Resources, historical documents, lesson plans and more related to the women's suffrage movement. The video presents the story of two of our century's most celebrated pioneers...Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

Not for Ourselves Alone PBS 1999 (3.5 hours) Available at

National Museum of Women's History

Songs, documents, memorabilia of the suffragist movement, 1848-1921. RealAudio versions of "I Will Speak My Mind If I Die For It," "Taxation Tyranny," ""Giving the Ballot to the Mothers," "Yellow Ribbon," and "Suffrage Flag."

"Even in stone, suffragettes cause a stir on Capitol Hill" (CNN)

In 1921, the "Portrait Monument" - a 7 1/2 ton statue which captures the images of suffrage pioneers Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony - was placed in the Capital Rotunda with gala ceremony. Within two days, the statue was banished to a basement broom closet. Read about the fight to restore this monument to it's righful place in our capital.

American Memory Collection Finder Search - Photos & prints of the women's suffrage movement, portraits of leaders, scripts of plays, etc. An easy to use search engine helps you find what you need by keyword. You might start with "Votes for Women" or "suffrage" Or go directly to Woman Suffrage Books & Pamphlets |||| Photos & Prints

Places Where Women Made History The National Park Service has developed a travel itinerary featuring 74 different properties from the National Register of HistoricPlaces in New York and Massachusetts. The itinerary includes interactive maps, descriptions of each place's significance in women's history, photographs, information on public accessibility, essays on women's achievements in American history, and links to other pertinent Web sites.

Dr.Sally Roesch Wagner has extensively researched the connection between early feminists and Native Americans. You'll find information about herwritings, lectures and performances at her site.

NARA Archival Information Locator (NAIL) NAIL is the working prototype for a future online catalog of holdings in Washington, DC, the regional archives, and the Presidential libraries. These resources include photographs and text documents, and some of the information they've digitized pertains to theWomen's Suffrage Movement...for example, you can search by keyword to findthe transcripts of Susan B Anthony's trial for illegal voting!

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Books & Videos

NEW! The Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017 Rachel Rampleman (15 minutes)

Rachel Rampleman is a Brooklyn-based artist best known for challenging gender sterotypes and constructions of "feminine" identity. This video is the most recent addition to the traveling collection Still They Persist: Protest Art from the 2017 Women's Marches.

American Woman Suffrage Postcards: A Study and Catalog. Kenneth Florey. McFarland 2015.

"American women's suffrage activists were fascinated with suffrage themed postcards... Cataloging approximately 700 examples, this study examines the "visual rhetoric" of suffrage postcards in the context of the movement itself and as part of the general history of postcards."

Winning the Vote: The Triumph of the American Woman Suffrage Movement. Robert P. J. Cooney Jr. American Graphic, 2005. Limited Edition. Available from the National Women's History Project AND

Produced in conjunction with the National Women's History Project to celebrate the 85th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, this book is lavishly illustrated. If you have only one book about women's suffrage on you library shelf, it ought to be this one.

We Are Caught in a Bad Romance Until We Have Women's Suffrage (Video Stream) Soomo Publishing 2012

Bad Romance: Women’s Suffrage is a parody music video paying homage to Alice Paul and the generations of brave women who joined together in the fight to pass the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote in 1920. The original song "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga went to number one in 17 countries. The video won a Grammy and seven MTV Video Music Awards.

Soomo is a small team designing and developing next generation learning resources. They offer innovative digital-native textbooks for selected college courses in an interactive learning environment. In addition to the video (which you stream via YouTube) they offer resources for teaching about Women's Suffrage at their web site.

Iron Jawed Angels. Warner Home Video, 2004 Directed by Katja von Garnier Available from DVD or VHS

This film (which originally aired on HBO) recounts for a contemporary audience a key chapter in U.S. history: in this case, the struggle of suffragists who fought for the passage of the 19th Amendment. Focusing on the two defiant women, Alice Paul (Hilary Swank) and Lucy Burns (Frances O'Connor), the film shows how these activists broke from the mainstream women's-rights movement and created a more radical wing, daring to push the boundaries of political protest to secure women's voting rights in 1920. Breathing life into the relationships between Paul, Burns and others, the movie makes the women feel like complete characters instead of one-dimensional figures from a distant past.

Generations: American Women Win the Vote (12.5 minutes) Vote 70, Inc 2003. Available through

This fast-paced video provides an excellent overview of the Women's Suffrage movement, with emphasis on the battle in Tennessee, where the deciding vote was cast by 24-year-old Harry Burn (acting on the advice of his mother.) The companion book, The Perfect 36: Tennessee Delivers Woman Suffrage is packed with period graphics, cartoons, charts, etc making it rich and accessible for children or adults. Both are highly recommended! (BTW, copies of the book were donated to every school, library and college in the state of Tennessee.)

Dreams of Equality National Park Series (28 minutes) Available through the bookstore at

This DVD is shown in the visitor's center of the Women's Right's National Historic Park in Seneca Falls. It recreates the first Women's Rights Convention, and tells the story through the interactions between a sister and brother from 1848 to the 1860's. One of my favorites, and perfect length for a luncheon or dinner program. You can usually find it on Interlibrary Loan, too.

One Woman, One Vote PBS, 1995 (2 hours) Available on DVD from

Highlights moments in seventy-two years of the suffrage movement, beginning with the first women's rights convention in 1848 and climaxing in passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. It is a thrilling story of women determinedly working generation after generation to win the rights of full American citizenship and of those women and men who fought against woman suffrage. Produced for the popular series, "The American Experience."

Not for Ourselves Alone PBS 1999 (3.5 hours) Available as VHS or DVD

The story of two of our century's most celebrated pioneers...Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. This is an outstanding presentation from Ken Burns. Also, visit the PBS website for related lesson plans and resources.

Standing on my Sisters' Shoulders. Directed by Laura J. Lipson. Produced by Joan Sadoff, Dr. Robert Sadoff, Laura J. Lipson. Women Make Movies, 2003. 61 minutes, Color and B/W, Video, Documentary. More information about the movie /// Ordering info from Women Make Movies

This award-winning documentary takes on the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi in the 1950's and 60's from the point of view of the courageous women who lived it ­ and emerged as its grassroots leaders. These women stood up and fought for the right to vote and the right to an equal education. They not only brought about change in Mississippi, but they altered the course of American history. While the historical footage is a stirring reminder, contemporary interviews of the activists show how active and vital many of these women still are. This film will have an impact on high school and college students who think of the Civil Rights Movement as ancient history, since these women could be their grandmothers. Highy Recommended!

Women Make Movies was established in 1972 to address the under representation and misrepresentation of women in the media industry. Women Make Movies provides services to women film and video makers through their Distribution Service and the Production Assistance Program. You'll find several other excellent documentaries and films in their catalog.