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19th Amendment Anniversary

To commemorate the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, the Bettendorf Public Library and the Putnam Museum are holding special online events.

First up is a Saturday discussion of the 2019 book, "Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote," by Susan Ware. That will be led by Jane Simonsen, Augustana College professor of history who specializes in American’s women’s history and gender studies.

The book looks beyond national leadership of the suffrage movement, as Ware tells the inspiring story of 19 dedicated women who carried the banner for the vote across the nation, out of the spotlight, protesting, petitioning, and demonstrating for women's right to become full citizens. Simonsen’s talk will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, with discussion going for 90 minutes.

“It kind of tells the story of suffrage and some of the divisions within the movement that some people may not know how divisive some of the strategies were, by looking at the different methods that different women used to get the word out. And what I think is fascinating is the different reasons women got involved – African-American women, for example, had different reasons for getting involved than white women did. Women used very different methods, writing, performance, protests, the hunger strikes some of these women used late in the movement. It really gets at the variety of strategies women used and the variety of reasons for them getting involved in the movement.”

The Putnam Museum in Davenport has extended its exhibit on the suffrage movement – “Liberated Voices / Changed Lives” – until November 4th, the day after the presidential election. 

Credit Putnam Museum
Rachel Mullins

Putnam President and CEO Rachael Mullins says on Wednesday August 26 at 6:30 p.m., the 100th anniversary of the signing of the 19 th Amendment, the museum will host a Zoom gathering of local women, replacing a previously planned live in-person celebration.

"We will be doing a virtual rally on Aug. 26 that invites local people from all over to join us to kind of look at the current issues facing women. Some of the discussion we’ve had is that ‘hard won, but still not done’ kind of approach. Though the recognition of the right to vote was an incredible milestone for women, there still are inequities, there still are challenges, and there still is a fight to continue to receive equal status.” 

A series of speakers will explore a variety of issues, including women in elected office, STEM careers, poverty, race, and other local challenges. They’re also celebrating 125th anniversary of Rock Island-based Royal Neighbors of America, which was an early innovator in supporting women’s suffrage. Mullins says RNA president/CEO Cynthia Tidwell will speak.

"It’ll be a great celebration. There will be a series of women in various roles, addressing the modern era of women’s rights, as well as mixed media with some of our video vignettes, that were produced specifically for the ‘Liberated Voices/Changed Lives’ exhibit. It also is a partnership with River Music Experience, featuring live music and spoken word as well.”

To sign up for that free event, visit Putnam.org or the Putnam on Facebook. The same night, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m., the Bettendorf library will host a virtual one-woman performance featuring Laura F. Keyes as suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton fought for equal rights for women for over 50 years. Upon her death in 1902, she left behind a legacy of her crusade for female equality and myriad writings that would inspire feminists for over a century to come. Both Bettendorf events require free registration at http://bettendorflibrary.com.

Chris Kastell, the Putnam curator of history and anthropology, will give an online presentation of the suffrage exhibit on Thursday, Sept. 17 at 1:30 p.m. That tells how Quad-Cities women made the case for and against women's right to vote and the local roots of the women's suffrage movement from the perspective of women and men from 1900 to 1920. Sign up for that talk also at the Bettendorf library website.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.