In Women’s Suffrage, a Spotlight for Unsung Pioneers

Historians in the News
tags: African American history, suffrage, womens history, Mexican American history, 19th Amendment, Asian American History

This summer, The New York Times is commemorating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. But Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are not the focus.

Although their pioneering reform efforts in the 1800s helped women gain the right to vote when the 19th Amendment became part of the Constitution on Aug. 26, 1920, the goal of the project is to introduce readers to some of the many other women who were pivotal to the cause, Veronica Chambers, the project’s lead editor, said.

“This is in no way a definitive history of the suffrage movement,” she said. “It’s an alternative look at that history that spotlights overlooked people.”

The project encompasses a 44-page print special section in this weekend’s paper; a nonfiction book for young adult readers (“Finish the Fight!: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote”) that will be available Aug. 18, the 100th anniversary of the amendment’s ratification; a series of online discussions on the continuing battle for women’s rights; a virtual play adapted from the book that premieres on Aug. 18; numerous articles by Times reporters and historians; and additions to The Times’s Overlooked obituary series.

Dozens of editors, writers, designers and photographers from inside and outside The Times spent the past year researching women of diverse backgrounds who were largely unknown but whose achievements deserved to be emphasized along with Anthony’s and Stanton’s.

Among them is Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, a Chinese-American woman who as a teenager helped the women’s movement in New York City coordinate one of the biggest suffrage parades in U.S. history. And Mary Church Terrell, a founder of the National Association of Colored Women. The notables also included Maria W. Stewart, who in 1832 was one of the first American women to speak publicly about politics to audiences of mixed races and genders, and Jovita Idár, a teacher and writer who promoted the rights of Mexican-Americans.

“There are so many names we don’t know that we should,” Ms. Chambers said.

Read entire article at New York Times

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