How Women Won the Vote: A 19th Amendment Reading List

American democracy is a lot younger than it looks. Just 100 years ago, on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified, enshrining women’s right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. While women’s suffrage was hard won, the battle for the ballot would continue for decades, especially for Black and Indigenous women. This collection explores the history and impact of that century-old victory, and the complicated legacy that still informs today.

The Imperfect, Unfinished Work of Women’s Suffrage

Casey Cep • The New Yorker

A century after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, it’s worth remembering why suffragists had to fight so hard, and who was fighting against them.

A History of the US Women’s Suffrage Movement in Five Objects

Anne Wallentine • Apollo Magazine

The material history of the movement reveals many of its priorities and problems, and its relevance to the persisting struggles for equal rights today.

Susan B. Anthony Fought for Women’s Suffrage in the Face of Ridicule

Erin Blakemore • National Geographic

This leading suffragist devoted her life to the movement but never got to vote—legally at least.

What the First Women Voters Experienced When Registering for the 1920 Election

Meilan Solly • Smithsonian Magazine

The process varied by state, with some making accommodations for the new voting bloc and others creating additional obstacles

The US Suffragette Movement Tried to Leave Out Black Women. They Showed Up Anyway

Martha S. Jones • The Guardian

Racism and sexism were bound together in the fight to vote – and Black women made it clear they would never cede the question of their voting rights to others

Why Thousands of Women Fought Against the Right to Vote

Samantha Schmidt • The Washington Post

The anti-suffragist women would become a nationwide force that would influence later generations of conservative women. And today, a century after women gained the right to vote, echoes of their message remain.

How the Devastating 1918 Flu Pandemic Helped Advance US Women’s Rights

Christine Crudo Blackburn, Gerald W. Parker and Morten Wendelbo • The Conversation

One hundred years ago, a powerful strain of the flu swept the globe, infecting one third of the world’s population. The aftermath of this disaster, too, led to unexpected social changes, opening up new opportunities for women and in the process irreversibly transforming life in the United States.

The Very Queer History of the Suffrage Movement

Wendy L. Rouse • Ms. Magazine

“Would you rather have a vote than a husband?”

In 1920, Native Women Sought the Vote. Here’s What’s Next.

Cathleen D. Cahill and Sarah Deer • The New York Times

The 19th Amendment did not bring the right to vote to all Native women, but two experts in a conversation said it did usher in the possibility of change.

Celebrate Women’s Suffrage on an Epic, Self-Guided Road Trip

Maggie Fuller • Afar

On the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, trace the route of the national women’s suffrage movement and stand in the spots where history happened.

The Unfinished Business of Women’s Suffrage

Melissa Gira Grant • The New Republic

The women who remain locked out of the right to vote are the fractured legacy of a fractured movement.

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