Photo of the Week
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck
WOMEN’S EQUALITY DAY, August 26th
by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian
Rosalie Gardiner Jones on the Long Island Suffrage Wagon Advocating “Votes for Tomorrow,” c. 1913. (Image from the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
Last week on August 26 was Women’s Equality Day. In 1973, at the behest of Rep. Bella Abzug from New York, the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.” The date was selected to commemorate the August 26, 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York. The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.
Rosalie Gardiner Jones (1883-1978) of Cold Spring Harbor became prominent in the suffrage struggle, teaming up with Elizabeth Freeman of Kings Park and other Long Island suffragists to travel across Suffolk County, through Shoreham, Port Jefferson, Smithtown, and Northport, selling copies of their newspaper, Woman Voter Daily, suffrage literature, and buttons to raise funds for the suffrage battle. Jones and her “pilgrims” (as they were called) set out for Washington, D.C., in 1913, where a large suffrage parade was planned for March 3, the day before the inauguration of the new president, Woodrow Wilson. They carried a banner that read: “Criminals and the insane can’t vote, neither can I, what about it?” Over five thousand women marched down Pennsylvania Avenue on that day to the cheers of onlookers.