Women's Suffrage

West Virginia Ratifies 19th Amendment

Mar 10, 2020
Senator Jesse Bloch cast the deciding vote on West Virginia's ratification of the 19th Amendment
E-WV, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

In West Virginia, ratification came down to one vote. In February, 1920, when Governor Cornwall called a special session of the legislature to ratify suffrage, two state senators were missing. One had resigned the previous year and one was playing golf in California. The House of Delegates passed the amendment, but it failed in the Senate.

Alice Paul Organizes National Women's Party

Mar 5, 2020

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

In her twenties, Alice Paul learned about the struggle for women’s voting rights while studying in England.  Back home in 1910, she joined the American movement.  Unlike her peers, Paul took a more radical approach.  She organized 5,000 women to parade Pennsylvania Avenue on March 3, 1913, the day before President Wilson’s inauguration.  Onlookers attacked them with obscenities and physical violence.  The police simply watched but national headlines made suffrage a hot topic.  

Lenna Lowe Yost rallied the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association to success in 1920
E-WV/The Humanities Council

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.  

The activists who led West Virginia’s suffrage movement faced more than sexism. Despite political setbacks, personal tragedies, and bad roads, they persisted.


One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

As early as 1867, Samuel Young, a minister and state senator from Pocahontas county, introduced a resolution to give West Virginia Women the vote. It failed. In the early 1900s, West Virginia women organized suffrage clubs and, in 1916, tried to pass a state-wide referendum on the vote. When it failed miserably by a three to one margin, Julia Ruhl, president of the state suffrage association, acknowledged, “Our organization is in a demoralized condition.”

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

Carrie Chapman Catt followed Susan B. Anthony as president of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association and was its leader when the women’s right to vote became the law of the land.  A determined woman and brilliant organizer, she got her start organizing women in Iowa for a state referendum on the vote, and went on to rally women in other states.

Susan B. Anthony Charged with Voting Illegally

Feb 20, 2020

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

Discrimination against women in the Abolition movement led to the Seneca Falls Convention with broad goals for women’s rights, including the vote

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

Many got their start as leaders in the anti-slavery movement.  But when women delegates attended the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention, they were relegated to the gallery.   This humiliation led to the seneca falls convention with broad goals for women’s rights, including the vote.

There were events all day at the Capitol celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment – guaranteeing women the right to vote. We hear about West Virginia’s suffragists and the need for West Virginia women to engage more actively in the political process.

Emily Hilliard / West Virginia Humanities Council

On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear several stories about people who are working to help address problems within their own communities.

Reenactors in period costume at the recent Suffrage Centennial event at the West Virginia Culture Center
Janet Kunicki / WVPB

2020 marks 100 years since women in the United States earned the right to vote. The fight for the 19th Amendment followed more than 70 years of struggle that included everything from marches and protests to beatings, hunger strikes and force feeding.

Today, some advocates worry that history has been lost. To mark the ratification of the 19th Amendment, public and private organizations are teaming up to organize events to commemorate the centennial all year long and across the state.