National Votes for Women Trail markers in Kentucky

Randolph Hollingsworth (she/her) Blog Post

The National Collaborative for Women's History Sites (NCWHS) is leading the effort to develop a National Votes for Women Trail (NVWT), originally as a part of the celebrations commemorating the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment. (For more information about this national project, visit the About page at their website: The William G. Pomeroy Foundation sponsors the NVWT with donations of the distinctive NVWT national markers.

With the support of the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project (KWSP), Kentucky has approximately 200 sites on the

Hamilton Female College Delegation in Lexington's 1916 Suffrage Parade

Randolph Hollingsworth (she/her) Blog Post

Perhaps it was the charisma of the vision that the new president Burris Jenkins had for a rejuvenated Transylvania College soon after he arrived in 1901. Perhaps it was the long tradition of Lexington's support for women's professional education and higher learning. At any rate, new faculty hires at Transylvania and the newly merged Hamilton Female College in the early 1900s created a unique grouping of women's rights activists. Dedicated to new ideas within their churches about women's roles in civic engagement, and ambitious about becoming experts in their academic fields, several women of

Frankfort Suffrage Women Cemetery Project

Randolph Hollingsworth (she/her) Blog Post

We got a message from Mary Ann Burch, chair of the Frankfort Suffrage Women Cemetery Project. They want to identify and honor the women suffrage leaders buried in the Frankfort Cemetery by placing a small bronze plaque on their gravesites. Mary Ann Burch and Sylvia Coffey are part of the Women Suffragist Centennial Chorus which has been performing for several years now as they commemorate those who fought for the right to vote - and to remind us that this fight for universal suffrage continues today. Other members of their project committee are Robin Antenucci (Frankfort Tourism), Patty

One of the most intriguing aspects of the Kentucky equal rights movement is the tension that led to Laura Clay’s break from the Kentucky Equal Rights Association (KERA) and the National Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). From the establishment of KERA in 1888, Clay had dedicated her life to the organization and fighting for women’s rights. She was the longtime president, one of the major driving forces of its work, and, for many, the face of the woman suffrage movement in Kentucky. However, Clay’s place in the state and national movement began to shift in the early 1910s. Clay’s beliefs began

            When considering the women’s suffrage movement, most Americans think of iconic national figures like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. However, the fight for the right to vote was by no means monolithic. In fact, much of the work was done on a state and local level by women whose names don’t make the pages of high school history textbooks. As I’m sure you all know, the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project has done amazing work to uncover and catalog the history of these women across the state. This year, Dr. Melanie Beals Goan is releasing a book detailing the history of the

KY Woman Suffrage From Home!

Kate Byars Blog Post

Hi everyone! My name is Kate Byars. I am a student at the University of Kentucky and have been working as a research intern for Dr. Melanie Goan and the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project. While I have been researching suffrage all year, this is my first blog post!

Before things got hectic with the virus I spent a lot of time in UK’s Special Collections Research Center. I combed through the Laura Clay Papers collection for hours upon hours and I still have hardly scratched the surface of information to be found there. Special Collections has recently digitized the entire collection of Laura Clay

Kentucky suffragist in England for the Great Pilgrimage of 1913

Randolph Hollingsworth (she/her) Blog Post

The constant interplay in the suffrage movement between "conservative" women or to the more radical groups is an interesting point of analysis in understanding the complexity of how disfranchised people organized to win their rights. Radicals across the globe took on the originally derogatory term of "suffragette" - and the more mainstream suffragists would go to great lengths to show they were not part of any of that. The Kentucky Equal Rights Association (KERA), connected both to the National American Woman Suffrage Association and culturally to many conservative Southern women's groups

Kentucky Woman Suffrage Association, 1881 Constitution and Charter Members

Randolph Hollingsworth (she/her) Blog Post

As part of the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project, H-Kentucky offers images of the original Constitution of the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Association (KWSA) adopted on October 27, 1881 - with many thanks to Sarah Dorpinhaus, Director of Digital Services in the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center. The Kentucky Woman Suffrage Association was founded after an American Woman Suffrage Association meeting in Louisville. The KWSA was the first woman suffrage organization to represent a state in the South. Similar to the AWSA, the KWSA encouraged men to be members and that "No

What is the difference between a “suffragist” and a “suffragette”?

Randolph Hollingsworth (she/her) Blog Post

As the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project steams ahead, we hear this frequently asked question: 

What is the difference between a “suffragist” and a “suffragette”?

A suffragist is someone who advocated for extending political suffrage -- the right to vote in elections -- for women. Since in the U.S. the individual states determine who may vote, it took a federal amendment to express this right. The 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, stated that African American men had the right to vote. It took another one (activists were hoping it would be the 16th) in 1920 -- the 19th Amendment -- to extend women

This post was co-written by Dr. Randolph Hollingsworth (coordinator for the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project) and Dr. Margaret Spratt (coordinator for the Tennessee entries for the Women and Social Movements in the U.S. project on woman suffrage) as they consider a proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities for a community outreach project to include both Kentucky and Tennessee:

In Kentucky, the suffragists Laura Clay and Madeline McDowell Breckinridge held a debate in 1919 focusing on the differences in political ideology that impact state and municipal powers as a check on federal