On August 26, 1920, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the Nineteenth Amendment into the United States Constitution. The Amendment read:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Though many people associate the passage of this women’s suffrage amendment with big names such as Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Chapman Catt, the list of American women who devoted their lives to supporting women’s rights stretches far beyond the headliners. Women of small and midsized towns and cities had incredible impacts on the local, state, and national suffrage movements, yet their stories are often forgotten.

In honor of the upcoming centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, the Evanston History Center and the Evanston Women’s History Project are launching a new project called Evanston and the 19th, in which Evanston women and organizations that contributed to the movement are showcased. The tireless effort of countless Evanstonians propelled the suffrage movement through the nineteenth century, all the way up to August 26, 1920.

Evanston and the 19th is particularly interested in the work of three Evanstonian women who molded the suffrage movement so much that it’s hard to imagine the Nineteenth Amendment passing at all without them. These three women are Frances Elizabeth Willard, Elizabeth Boynton Harbert, and Catharine Waugh McCulloch.

The first three posts on Evanston and the 19th will be exposes of each of these three people. Those biographies will then provide the cornerstones from which the rest of the project will be created: other organizations, people, and events will be introduced, all of which have ties to at least one of the women. By the end of this project, it will be clear exactly how Frances Willard, Elizabeth Harbert, and Catharine McCulloch influenced the suffrage movement both locally and nationally, as well as how strong of an influence Evanston had on the cause.

Throughout the project, there will be both a map of Evanston and a timeline of events that are continuously updated. The map will show the relevant locations of various people, organizations, and events within Evanston, and the timeline will fill in the gaps between the birth of Frances Willard and the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Recently Added Items

"Prize Essays: Whitfield and MacDonald"

Prize Essays 1.jpg

Pamphlet with printed versions of two winning essays in EPEL's annual suffrage essay contests for high school students. Aleck G. Whitfield won first…

EPEL Treasurer's Book

Treasurer's Book 1.jpg

Treasurer's book of EPEL, 1904-1907. Includes records of dues-paying members and disbursements.

"Evanston Suffragists Elect New Officers"

New Officers 1.jpg

Newspaper account of EPEL annual meeting and election of new officers.

EPEL Officers, Constitution, and Membership Pledge

Officers 1 of 2.jpg

Card with list of EPEL officers, EPEL constitution, and space for membership pledge on reverse side.

"Suffrage Bazaar is Attraction"

Bazaar 1.jpg

Newspaper account of plans for suffrage bazaar at Hotel LaSalle, in which Evanston women took a leadership role.

"Votes for Women Urged by League"

Votes for Women Urged by League.jpg

Newspaper account of recent EPEL meeting at Rickards home, 1324 Forest Avenue.

"Suffrage for Women"

Suffrage for Women.jpg

Article in the Evanston Index describing Carrie Chapman-Catt's upcoming lecture on suffrage at First Congregational Church in Evanston.

Evanston Political Equality League Membership Pledge

Membership Application.jpg

A membership pledge from Mrs. A.B. Blunt to the Evanston Political Equality League.

Photograph, Catharine Waugh McCulloch

CWM undated Photo Coll McCulloch family Folder 2.jpg

A photograph of Catharine Waugh McCulloch.

Photograph, Catharine Waugh McCulloch

CWM undated (later) Photo Coll McCulloch family Folder 2.jpg

A photograph of Catharine Waugh McCulloch reading in her library in her later years.