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Washington Suffrage Centennial, 1910-2010

Women's voices and influence have always been a part of Washington’s history, even without the vote. The fight for permanent woman's suffrage in Washington, however, spans over 50 years in territorial and state history. Washington was the first state in the 20th century and the fifth state in the Union to enact women’s suffrage. Washington women’s success in 1910 helped inspire the campaign that culminated in passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, when women won the right to vote nationally.

The campaign for women's rights in Washington, however, did not end in 1910, but continues to the present. By commemorating the Suffrage Centennial, Washingtonians celebrate the long and arduous road to the achievement of women's suffrage, the continuing struggle for women's rights and the significant role of women in public and private life. The victory in 1910 was an important culmination of the fight for the rights of women as citizens but only the beginning of a century of women’s activism to shape Washington. After 1910, women had new tools to continue the reforms they had begun earlier.

The Washington Women’s History Consortium provided a wide range of activities for the 2009-2010 Washington Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemoration including a major traveling exhibit to five venues in the state, entitled "Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes.” Parts of the exhibit will be installed in a permanent exhibit at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma in 2012. Another exhibit, “From Parlor to Podium: Territorial Suffragists of Olympia,” was featured at the State Capital Museum in Olympia in 2010-11. A traveling panel exhibit on women’s suffrage continues to be available through the Washington State Historical Society. Products from local grants funded through the centennial allocation are available as part of the WHC website along with special projects to digitize primary source material from the May Arkwright Hutton Collection at NWMAC and the Emma Smith DeVoe Papers from the Washington State Library.

Several media presentations were completed and a special curriculum on women’s suffrage continues to be available through the WSHS website education offerings. A book, Women’s Votes, Women’s Voices: The Campaign for Equal Rights in Washington is available through the Washington State University Press. 2010 culminated with a special women’s history-themed Pacific Northwest History Conference in Spokane in November, 2010 and Day of Jubilation events at the State Capital Museum and Capitol in Olympia on November 7 and 8, 2010 to commemorate the vote on November 8, 1910 which amended the Washington State Constitution empowering women to vote. The Washington Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemoration received a national Leadership in History Award from the American Association for State Local History in 2011.

Suffrage Centennial Topics

Day of Jubilation images, Stefanie Felix
See photographs taken during the Day of Jubilation celebration that honored the 100th anniversary of Washington women's suffrage.

Day of Jubilation images, Secretary of State
See photographs taken during the Day of Jubilation celebration that honored the 100th anniversary of Washington women's suffrage.

Day of Jubilation schedule
View the schedule for the Day of Jubilation honoring the 100th anniversary of Washington women’s suffrage.

Equal Rights for Washington Women
Exibit panels describing the hardships Washington women encountered while fighting for the right to vote.

Proceedings of the Pacific Northwest History Conference, 2010
The Washington State Historical Society and the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture held a women's history-themed Pacific Northwest History Conference in Spokane as part of the commemoration of the centennial of women's right to vote in Washington in 2010.

Suffrage Songs
Read lyrics and listen to songs about women's suffrage. Written by Linda Allen and used in Susan Butruille's play Recipe for Justice.

What You Can Do
Learn about what you can do to celebrate women's suffrage.

Women's Votes, Women's Voices
Curator and author Shanna Stevenson describing the historical context of the Women’s suffrage exhibition at the Washington State History Museum. Podcast and transcript available.