Alice Paul, a leader of the 20th century women's suffrage movement, who advocated for and helped secure passage of the 19th Amendment, makes a toast to Tennessee's ratification of the amendment. The banner beside her was displayed outside the National Women's Suffrage Party’s Washington, DC, headquarters, showing the stars of the states which had ratified the amendment. Since the 18th amendment, Prohibition, had previously been passed, the toast was with grape juice.

Alice Paul, a leader of the 20th century women's suffrage movement, who advocated for and helped secure passage of the 19th Amendment, makes a toast to Tennessee's ratification of the amendment. The banner beside her was displayed outside the National Women's Suffrage Party’s Washington, DC, headquarters, showing the stars of the states which had ratified the amendment. Since the 18th amendment, Prohibition, had previously been passed, the toast was with grape juice.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment in the United States, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote.

It took activists and reformers of the women’s suffrage movement more than 70 years to win this right and on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified, and on August 26, it was officially declared in effect. Due to racial inequality, however, many women of color in the United States were not granted the right to vote until 1965. Black women, who played a key role in the suffrage movement but have mostly been overlooked through history, are finally getting their due

This historic centennial offers an opportunity to commemorate a milestone of democracy and to explore its relevance to the issues of equal rights today. The Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative, a collaboration of women-centered institutions, organizations, and scholars from across the U.S., is working to ensure that this anniversary on August 26, and the 72-year fight to achieve it, are commemorated and celebrated throughout the country.

Portraits of seven prominent figures of the suffrage and women's rights movement, circa 1870, clockwise from top:  Lucretia Mott, 1793-1880; Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1815-1902; Mary A. Livermore, 1820-1905; Lydia Maria Child, 1802-1880; Susan B. Anthony, 1820-1906; Grace Greenwood, 1823-1904; and Anna E. Dickinson, 1842-1932 (in the middle).

Portraits of seven prominent figures of the suffrage and women's rights movement in America, circa 1870, clockwise from top: Lucretia Mott, 1793-1880; Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1815-1902; Mary A. Livermore, 1820-1905; Lydia Maria Child, 1802-1880; Susan B. Anthony, 1820-1906; Grace Greenwood, 1823-1904; and Anna E. Dickinson, 1842-1932 (in the middle).

Suffragists began their organized fight for women’s equality in 1848 when they demanded the right to vote during the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. For the next 72 years, women leaders lobbied, marched, picketed, and protested for the right to the ballot.

The U.S. House of Representatives finally approved the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote, on May 21, 1919. The U.S. Senate followed two weeks later, and the 19th Amendment went to the states, where it had to be ratified by three-fourths of the-then-48 states to be added to the Constitution.

A Suffragette Parade in New York City, circa 1910.

A Suffragette Parade in New York City, circa 1910.

Nine African-American suffragists pose for a photo with Nannie Burroughs, holding a banner that reads, "Banner State Woman's National Baptist Convention," circa 1905.

Nine African-American suffragists pose for a photo with Nannie Burroughs, holding a banner that reads, "Banner State Woman's National Baptist Convention," circa 1905.

By a vote of 50-47, Tennessee became the last state needed to ratify the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby issued a proclamation on August 26, 1920 declaring the 19th Amendment ratified and part of the US Constitution, forever protecting American women’s right to vote.

Today, more than 68 million women vote in elections because of the courageous suffragists who never gave up the fight for equality.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way that the 100th anniversary will be commemorated, but the 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative is finding special and creative ways to celebrate in these unprecedented circumstances. To see a list of virtual events and learn more about how you can still participate in Women’s Equality Day celebrations, visit www.2020centennial.org/.

Women line up to vote for the first time in New York after the passage of the 19th Amendment, 1920.

Women line up to vote for the first time in New York after the passage of the 19th Amendment, 1920.

Various memorabilia and artifacts were produced during the suffrage movement — many of which were manufactured between 1908 and 1917 — that are highly collectible today including banners, ribbons, buttons, postcards, pamphlets, figurines and jewelry.

Kenneth Florey, a long-time specialist in suffrage memorabilia and author of Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia: An Illustrated History, said that memorabilia, whether preserved at home, sent through the mail, displayed at conventions, or worn at marches and demonstration, tells us something about the basic character of the suffragists themselves and of the organizations that manufactured and distributed these objects.

A Massachusetts die-cut tin blue bird, one of the essential centerpieces for most major suffrage collections. This lithographed tin bird is 12” h and was issued by the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association during a drive in 1915; $6,875.

A Massachusetts die-cut tin blue bird, one of the essential centerpieces for most major suffrage collections. This lithographed tin bird is 12” h and was issued by the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association during a drive in 1915; $6,875.

“The eagerness to buy, display, and collect specific memorabilia indicates that many suffrage sympathizers wanted to have it become part of them in a tangible way that was not otherwise possible through campaign literature and speeches alone,” he said.

Florey noted that suffrage memorabilia was particularly popular at the beginning of the 20th century prior to World War I. That time period featured an explosion in the production of collectibles, as innovative developments in both printing and manufacturing resulted in the appearance of many new types of memorabilia during a period when suffragists were gathering strength and achieving results.

For example, the celluloid button or badge, which was employed extensively for the first time in advertising the 1896 presidential campaign between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan, and postcards, whose golden age (1902-1915) coincided with the “final push for woman suffrage,” were used to promote the suffragist cause. Other popular suffrage objects were pennants, china and ceramics, Cinderella (non-philatelic) and poster stamps, art posters, playing cards, toys and games, balloons, blotters, pencils and pens, writing paper and letterheads, ribbons, and umbrellas. Florey noted that these collectibles were “meaningful to many suffragists who produced them, wrote about them, and were overjoyed by the enthusiastic response of the public when they gave them away.”

To learn more about suffrage memorabilia, visit Florey’s website at womansuffragememorabilia.com/.

The following suffrage items have recently sold at auction:

Four different pinbacks, ranging from 3/4” to 7/8”, $843.

Four different pinbacks, ranging from 3/4” to 7/8”, $843.

A suffragette embroidery panel, with silk embroidery of a stylish young woman beneath a large swallow-tail pennant that reads, “Votes For Women.” Inscribed on bottom edge: “Elsa Richardsons Grecian Silk Floss Design 6705,” 20” x 16-1/2”; $8,125.

A suffragette embroidery panel, with silk embroidery of a stylish young woman beneath a large swallow-tail pennant that reads, “Votes For Women.” Inscribed on bottom edge: “Elsa Richardsons Grecian Silk Floss Design 6705,” 20” x 16-1/2”; $8,125.

One of the rarest of all felt suffrage pennants, this pennant has an unusual design with “Woman Suffrage Party” set in a circle, 19-1/2” l, $4,000.

One of the rarest of all felt suffrage pennants, this pennant has an unusual design with “Woman Suffrage Party” set in a circle, 19-1/2” l, $4,000.

A suffrage parade sash of printed grosgrain fabric bearing the slogan,  “Votes for Women,” in purple/black block letters within a two-tone border, circa 1910, 10” x 47”, $2,300.

A suffrage parade sash of printed grosgrain fabric bearing the slogan, “Votes for Women,” in purple/black block letters within a two-tone border, circa 1910, 10” x 47”, $2,300.

An antique suffragette pendant necklace in silver and gold, the scrolling design set with an oval-cut peridot, round-cut amethysts and rose-cut diamonds, suspending a pearl, $550.

An antique suffragette pendant necklace in silver and gold, the scrolling design set with an oval-cut peridot, round-cut amethysts and rose-cut diamonds, suspending a pearl, $550.

A circa 1910 sterling and enamel “Give Women the Vote” broochpin/brooch in suffragette colors green, white, 1-1/4” x 2”, $125.

A circa 1910 sterling and enamel “Give Women the Vote” broochpin/brooch in suffragette colors green, white, 1-1/4” x 2”, $125.

A rare and desirable toy of a suffragette in mechanical hoop, circa 1880s, by George Brown, the hand-painted tin figure stands on a covered clockwork mechanism, encircled by red hoop while holding a flag, $6,000.

A rare and desirable toy of a suffragette in mechanical hoop, circa 1880s, by George Brown, the hand-painted tin figure stands on a covered clockwork mechanism, encircled by red hoop while holding a flag, $6,000.

Button showing a suffragette blowing the clarion trumpet on the ramparts, holding a banner with ten stars, inscribed “Votes For Women. Women’s Political Union.” Women’s Political Union of New York City back paper, 1-1/4”; $1,000.

Button showing a suffragette blowing the clarion trumpet on the ramparts, holding a banner with ten stars, inscribed “Votes For Women. Women’s Political Union.” Women’s Political Union of New York City back paper, 1-1/4”; $1,000.

Bisque statue depicting a police officer covering his ears while a suffragette screams, “I want a vote,” made by Shafer & Vater, Germany, circa 1918, 6-1/4”, $600.

Bisque statue depicting a police officer covering his ears while a suffragette screams, “I want a vote,” made by Shafer & Vater, Germany, circa 1918, 6-1/4”, $600.

Weekly Showcase

Cast-iron shooting gallery target

Classic Shooting Gallery Targets

Legendary collection of vintage shooting gallery targets takes center stage at Soulis Auctions in September. Early collectors Richard and Valerie Tucker embraced the targets, calling them 'iron as art.'