About the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project

In 2020, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  It took 82 years from Kentucky’s groundbreaking state law in 1838 for woman suffrage (partial, for educational issues only); 72 years from the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments adopted at the 1848 Seneca Falls meeting by a few of the national leaders; and, 41 years from when Mary Barr Clay started the first permanent Kentucky women’s club focused on suffrage.  We want Kentucky to be an integral part of all the national events again, but we need your help to make this happen. See the projects underway already - please join in these efforts or help us start a new one today. (See a list of suggested projects here.)

Special Issue in Regional Journal, Documentary, Mobile App, Monograph, and Exhibits

The Ohio Valley History Journal is planning a special issue devoted to woman suffrage in Kentucky and in the Ohio Valley area in time for the national 2020 celebration. With funding from co-sponsors including the University of Kentucky President Capilouto, Michael Breeding (who created the recent Dreamers and Doers” documentary and companion website) is creating a documentary on Kentucky women’s suffrage history. In partnership with the Kentucky Historical Society's ExploreKyHistory project, the KWSP Steering Team is working on building out new tours relating to Kentucky suffrage history for the ExploreKyHistory mobile app. Dr. Melanie Goan (historian at University of Kentucky) is currently working on a scholarly monograph that will present new information and analyze the history of woman suffrage in Kentucky, placing our local and state movements within a national context. Frazier History Museum's CEO Penelope Peavler is taking the lead on fundraising for a large exhibit at their museum in Louisville that will include items in addition to the travelling exhibit (such as living history characters, period clothing and reproductions of items used in suffrage parades). Her staff is working with community members and archivists across the state to create an exhibit that can be adapted to travel to several sites during 2020.

Timeline, Annotated Bibliography and Bio Sketches on H-Kentucky network

We need help with building a historical timeline (1830s -1920s), an annotated bibliography, and a series of biographical sketches posted here on H-Kentucky (networks.h-net.org/h-kentucky). Some of the posted biographical sketches will be used to create cards (courtesy of the Kentucky League of Women Voters) for distribution to teachers and local women's clubs here in Kentucky. Some of the biosketeches will be edited by Dr. Melanie Goan for inclusion later in the Suffrage component to Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 (Alexander Street Press). Add your favorite suffragist’s biography to H-Kentucky today – and you can see the timeline at https://networks.h-net.org/kentucky-woman-suffrage-timeline.

Votes for Women Trail - Digital Map on H-Kentucky and Beyond

H-Net (Humanities and Social Sciences Online) staff have developed an archive database for H-Kentucky that shows an annotated map of Kentucky's “Votes for Women Trail.” Help us identify Kentucky’s suffrage sites and build out our map that also connects with a nation-wide "National Votes for Women Trail" (NVWT) digital map being developed by National Collaboration for Women's Historical Sites (NCWHS). Along with coordinators in every state, this ambitious effort is a collaboration with the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, the 2020 Women's Vote Centennial Initiative (hosted by the National Woman's Party  at Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument and the League of Women Voters. The digital trail features the buildings, sites, historical markers, and monuments where women's suffrage activity took place in the United States before 1920. In addition to the digital map, the NVWT initiative is leading an historical marker campaign to establish physical markers in historic sites. These markers are created by a grant from the Pomeroy Foundation after vetted by the advisory board for the NVWT and Pomeroy. At this time, each state coordinator is tasked to negotiate with local sites and sponsoring clubs to erect five markers in their state. Kentucky was the first to get their markers approved by the NVWT and Pomeroy:

  1. Susan Look Avery - Louisville (at the Woman's Club of Louisville, dedicated on March 6, 2019)
  2. Mary E. Britton - Danville (at the St. James AME Church, dedicated on March 24, 2019)
  3. Mary Barr Clay - Richmond (at White Hall Historic Shrine, dedicated on June 2, 2019)
  4. Josephine Henry - Versailles (at the site of her former home at 210 Montgomery Ave., dedication ceremony TBA)
  5. Madeline McDowell Breckinridge - Lexington (TBA)

See the special issue from the National Women's History Museum calling for participation in celebrations in every state to commemorate the adoption of the 19th Amendment.

The Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project is offering an online resource linking all of these sites on a statewide map that will help teach the public about historic sites where Kentucky women lived, worked and advocated for suffrage. Louisville native Marsha Weinstein is the Chair of the NCWHS Suffrage Trails Committee; and, she and Genie Potter (both former directors of the Kentucky Commission on Women) are working with the Kentucky League of Women Voters to support the development of the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Trail.

Please add your contribution to the H-Kentucky network and we will make sure it gets sent to the national database. If you are not a subscriber to H-Kentucky, please see the directions in the right nav bar on how to subscribe and then submit an item to H-Kentucky. You can also send your ideas to us via email (at KYwomansuffrage@gmail.com). This annotated map and digital archive will help others find the buildings and sites in Kentucky where women and men fought for women’s right to vote.

NOTE: You can include a “site” as well as a building. The national “Votes for Women Trail” group defines a building to be a physical structure that has a permanent address still existing. A site might be a parade route or a local park that was used by suffragists to further their cause. It may not have a specific address, but we will want to have the GPS coordinates to put it on our digital map.

Kentucky women's contributions to the woman suffrage movement are an invaluable part of our history that have too often been overlooked. Help us make a difference. For starters, take a look at the NCWHS post giving tips on how to go about "Putting Women Back Into History" (by Karen Nickless, NCWHS Field Officer, and Heather Huyck, NCWHS President).  Only by working together can we make the Kentucky woman suffrage timeline and trail a reality. See what we’ve got so far by viewing the contributions already up (anyone can view, but you need to become a subscriber to the H-Kentucky network to contribute).

Teaching with KWSP Resources

Dr. Joanna Lile and Ms. Sariena Sampson (Doss High School in Louisville) put together a group of resources from the KWSP that would be of interest to social studies, humanities and English teachers. These resources are accompanied by suggested teaching strategies and an overview of the history that would be useful to teachers at all levels. See the Teaching with KWSP page here. The full list of all suggested resources for teaching is also available in this dynamic page that is updated each time someone adds a good resource for teachers to use.

Social Media: Facebook and Twitter

If you are on Twitter and want to help raise awareness about this project, please follow our account @KyWomanSuffrage and use the hashtag #KYwomansuffrage. Also, we have a Facebook community page for you to follow. We are featuring there many new items of information and activities you can share with friends to help get the word out

Regional Ally for the Vision 2020 Campaign for Shared Leadership

The Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project is a Vision 2020 Regional Ally. A U.S. Senate resolution, sponsored by Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania, designated Philadelphia as the site and Vision 2020 as the host organization for Women 100, the national 19th Amendment centennial celebration. See the list of planned activities for that year, including a new interactive visual experience on the history of women at the National Constitution Center, on the Vision 2020 website here. Genie Potter of Louisville has served as one of the delegates for Vision 2020 since its launch in 2010. With KWSP's support along with other Regional Allies, this initiative works "to close the persistently stubborn gaps in social, political and economic quality for women." Follow Vision 2020 on Twitter: @equalityinsight.

Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project Fellow

The team has been able to hire a Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project Fellow. The Fellow will regularly post from the H-Kentucky blog Kentucky Woman Suffrage. The Fellow's basic duties are:

  • conduct background research to keep current on contextual history and historiography
  • serve as main contact for partner institutions contributing to the project
  • create and upload project resources
  • maintain regular updates via the H-Kentucky blog

If you do not have an H-Kentucky account and you want to contribute to the project, please email your information to the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project Fellow, at KYwomansuffrage@gmail.com. The Fellow will add the information you’ve provided into the H-Kentucky archive, and then it will be used to contribute to the national database for women’s suffrage history sites from across the country.

We will continue to have regular postings on H-Kentucky with the common tag "Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project" to keep you updated on our progress.

Contact Us

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact any of us via the shared email address (KYwomansuffrage@gmail.com):

Eugenia "Genie" K. Potter, Marsha Weinstein and Dr. LeeAnn Whites (Louisville)
Dr. Karen Cotten McDaniel (Frankfort)
Dr. Paul Tenkotte (Highland Heights)
Dr. Melanie Goan, Dr. Randolph Hollingsworth, Dr. Melissa McEuen and Deirdre Scaggs (Lexington)
Dr. Tom Appleton (Richmond)
and, of course, our KWSP Fellow, Dr. Joanna Lile (Georgetown)

Other representatives from across the state that we are working with are:

  • Several staff at the Kentucky Historical Society including Mandy Higgins who is getting the word out to the local history organizations about gathering materials hidden away in personal collections and digitizing them for cataloging in H-Kentucky, and, she is editing and uploading the KWSP tours in the ExploreKyHistory project database and mobile app.
  • Sylvia Coffey leads the Women Suffrage Centennial Celebration in Frankfort which offers gatherings and suffrage-related living history events for their community regularly.
  • Doraine Bailey of Lexington is coordinating efforts in getting some suffragist reenactors together to participate in local events like the historical marker dedication ceremonies and the 4th of July parades in various towns. 
  • Sarah Hopley, Special Collections & Exhibits Librarian at Murray State University
  • Sandy Staebell, curator at Kentucky Museum at Western KY University
  • Jackie Couture, archivist at Eastern Kentucky University Libraries
  • Lynn Niedermeier, Library Special Collections, Western Kentucky University
  • Eric Brooks, curator at Ashland the Henry Clay Estate in Lexington - and Cameron Ginter, education specialist
  • Nita Smith and Terry Naydan, former co-presidents of KY League of Women Voters are working on the printing and distribution of notecards depicting Kentucky suffragists.
  • Penny Peavler (CEO), Brigid Witzke (Chief Curator), and Kristin Gilbert (curator for KWSP exhibits), Frazier History Museum in Louisville
  • Peter Holloway, Stage One Family Theatre in Louisville, is working with playwright Diana Grisanti, Vanderbilt U., to create a play that would be produced for Jefferson County Public Schools and the community
  • Kathi E.B. Ellis, Looking for Lilith Theatre Company in Louisville, is considering how to create a traveling show for 2020 that will focus on Kentucky suffrage with the support of RacePeace.
  • Dr. Felicia Cumings Smith, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, Jefferson County Public Schools, is leading a team of curriculum specialists to develop materials for teachers to use in their social studies classrooms focusing on critical thinking skills and civic health.
  • LFUCG Councilmember Jennifer Mossotti and Lexington Women's Memorial Garden director Victoria Meyer lead the Lexington-based "Breaking the Bronze Ceiling" initiative - the goal is to erect a bronze monument commemorating women in time for the 2020 celebrations of the centennial for the19th Amendment.

Here's a flyer (.pdf file) for you to download and share with your colleagues today. If you are interested in helping to get the word out and want to contribute, please let us know! You can email us at kywomansuffrage@gmail.com - or submit your event/activity for our shared calendar - submit details at: https://goo.gl/forms/jY0LMjZ4TdX0dS4a2

The Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project (KWSP) endorses the History Relevance Value Statement - found at https://www.historyrelevance.com/value-statement. History Relevance comprises over 150 like-minded organizations around the world, from the Smithsonian Institution and National Archives to historical societies and archivists; associations and nonprofits; and museums, trusts, estates, and local institutions. The Value Statement is endorsed by organizations that promote and encourage a sense of awareness, identity, and interconnectivity in a multicultural world through history-driven courses of study. Like the History Relevance campaign, the KWSP aims to “change the common perception that history is nice, but not essential.” Raising awareness about the historical record of woman suffrage, especially as played out in Kentucky, will also raise awareness about voting rights today. This greater awareness about our past and present could ideally improve the chances for increased voter participation rates as well as support change that would grant more citizens access to the ballot box – with a long term goal of a more democratic nation.