One Hundred Years Ago: How American Women Won the Right to Vote

Chapman University

Jennifer Keene is a professor of history and dean of the Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Chapman University. Her books about the American experience in the world wars include Doughboys, The Great War, and the Remaking of America, and World War I: The American Soldier Experience. Professor Keene has been awarded Fulbright Senior Scholar Awards and a Mellon Library of Congress Fellowship, and was featured in the PBS documentary mini-series, “The Great War.”


In 1917, female activists pioneered a new form of protest by organizing daily pickets in front of the White House. “How long must women wait for liberty?” demanded the Silent Sentinels, as the white-clad women silently holding signs became known. This new strategy of non-violent collective action was born of frustration with the stalled pace of change. In 1912, only nine western states had enacted female suffrage. Yet, eight years later, on August 18, 1920, the required 36 states ratified the 19th Amendment which prohibited denying or abridging the right to vote on account of sex. What changed? In this lecture, Professor Keene will examine how new tactics (like picketing the White House), a generation of new female leaders, new media strategies, and World War I all contributed to the passage of the 19th Amendment.



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