Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Wearing White: Historic Election Recalls Women’s Suffrage Movement

The Berkeley Independent
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As reported in many online media outlets, from the The Today Show to Harper’s Bazaar to Business Insider many women (and some men) voting in the 2016 election today are wearing white. The color is a nod to the women’s suffrage movement, which resulted in ratification of the 19th Amendment (1920) granting women the right to vote. During their lengthy campaign, with origins in the mid-19th century, women wore white. Along with gold and purple, white became one of the official colors of the 1916 National Women’s Party.

Suffragettes on Parade in Downtown Los Angeles, before 1920
Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library

Women won the right to vote in California in 1911. Proposition 4 of 1911 (or Senate Constitutional Amendment No. 8) granted women the right to vote in state elections almost a decade before the 19th Amendment provided women's suffrage throughout the United States. California was the 6th State to do so. You can read more about this at this online exhibition. 

Source: https://feminist.org/blog/index.php/2014/10/06/october-6-1911-as-california-suffrage-vote-nears-activists-remain-positive/

Among the prominent women at the forefront of the suffrage movement in California was Phoebe Apperson Hearst, whose lifetime, 1842–1919, also spans women’s fight for the right to vote. One of California’s and the nation’s most prominent philanthropists, Hearst was the widow of Senator George Hearst, mother of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, and one of the wealthiest women in America. 

A staunch supporter of education for girls and women, she was the first female regent of the University of the California and founder of the University’s Lowie Museum of Anthropology, later renamed the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of AnthropologyShe was a member of the national advisory council of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage and served as vice chairman of the National Woman’s Party

In honor of Phoebe Hearst's historic contributions to California, particularly in education, the California Historical Society launched the Phoebe Hearst Educational Fund in 2015 (as part of the Centennial of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, the 1915 World's Fair that Hearst played a critical role in organizing).  You can read more about this effort by clicking HERE.

Phoebe Apperson Hearst (1842–1919), undated California Historical Society

Suffragettes on Parade in Downtown Los Angeles
before 1920
Courtesy Los Angeles Public Library
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