After generations of agitation and education for and against it, some Americans still thought the idea was radical, but on this day in 1919, the U.S. Congress passed the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.
Prior to ratification, women’s voting rights depended on where they lived: they had full suffrage in only 15 states, partial voting rights in 20, and no voting rights at all in 12. See a map by the National Women Suffrage Publishing Company of women’s voting rights by state in 1919.
The Smithsonian Institution holds a great deal of memorabilia relevant to the national Women’s suffrage movement. See “A Woman Living Here has Registered to Vote.”
After the U.S. Congressional vote, it took over a year for the 19th amendment to become law which it did when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify on August 18, 1920. Even so, women in the state of Georgia could not vote until 1922, and Georgia did not official ratify the amendment until 1970. The New Georgia Encyclopedia has a fascinating entry on the fight both for and against Woman Suffrage in Georgia.
By the way, the first woman to serve in Congress was Jeannette Rankin. The Jeannette Rankin Papers reside at the University of Georgia’s Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, along with a number of other papers related to the Women’s Suffrage movement in Georgia such as those of William J. Harris, Richard B. Russell, and the Athens League of Women Voters.
Here at the Law Library, we have extensive holdings under the Subject Heading Women—Suffrage—United States as well as several Law Librarians who would be delighted to assist you with your research.
And last but not least, if you want to learn more, we have two very good films about the Women’s Suffrage movement in the U.S., one dramatic, the other documentary: Iron Jawed Angels, and One Woman One Vote