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State Historical Society of Iowa
Womens suffrage parade in Boone, Iowa

Women's Suffrage

The first Iowa constitutions restricted the right to vote to white males. A women's suffrage convention in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, issued a call for expanding political rights for women, including the right to vote, but the issue did not gain much visibility in Iowa until the years immediately after the Civil War. In 1894, the Iowa legislature granted women "partial suffrage," the right to vote on bond issues and similar matters but they still could not vote for candidates running for office.

The state legislature submitted to Iowa voters (still all men) a constitutional amendment in 1916 to remove the word "male" as a requirement to vote. Areas of the state strongly against prohibition, as well as the Catholic Church, opposed this change and these two groups worked to narrowly defeat the measure. However, the issue was winning support at the national level. In 1919, Congress approved a women's suffrage amendment and submitted it to the states. In 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify it, providing the necessary three-fourths and adding women’s right to vote as the 19th amendment. 

  • Women's Suffrage: Use this primary source set to view photographs, maps, documents and more cataloging the history of the women's suffrage movement in Iowa and the United States. 
  • Right to Vote: Use this primary source set to view photographs, maps, documents and more cataloging the histories of the women's, African American and American Indian suffrage movements in the United States. 


Expedition Activities
   + Goldie at Home Activity: Paper Flowers
   + Goldie at Home Activity: DIY Sashes
   + Crossword Puzzle
   + Women's Suffrage Coloring Sheets
   + Iowa History 101 Series 
   + Suffrage Book List for Children
   + Snapshots of Suffrage: Visual Literacy Activity
   + Iowa Women's Suffrage Collection (Photo Gallery)
   + Video: #Iowa Artifact - 19th Amendment
   + Video: Women's Suffrage Handkerchief Set
   + Featured Webinar: "Toward a Universal Suffrage"
   + Featured Webinar: "Carrie Lane Chapman Catt: Warrior for Women"
   + The Goldfinch: Carrie Chapman Catt and Women's Suffrage
   + The Goldfinch: Iowa Women of Achievement

Create a Masterpiece

Art played an important role in the women's suffrage movement. In illustrations, photographs and more, the history of the cause was captured by artists across the country. Download the women's suffrage-inspired coloring sheets and create your own masterpiece.

Celebrate African-American Women in the Suffrage Movement

Learn the stories of African-American suffragists with the State Historical Society of Iowa featured webinar, Toward a Universal SuffrageWomen of color were often left out of the broader conversation around women's suffrage rights. Before and after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, non-white women were often discriminated against and blocked from voting by various discriminatory measures. To tell their stories, the Central Iowa Community Museum and its partners have created a traveling exhibit focusing on African-American suffragists in Iowa

Suffrage Storytime

At-home storytime is an effective way to promote language and literacy skills and help encourage a lifelong love of reading and learning. These recommended books about women's suffrage will help guide your child's learning to incorporate more history into your reading list.

Complete a Crossword

Interpret the clues and complete this Goldie's Kids Club crossword puzzle for women's suffrage. Inspired by the people and methods used by the movement, use the numbered clues to work out the answers and fill them into the crossword grid. 

Goldie at Home Activities

Goldie at Home activities connect Iowa history with STEAM education and include easy-to-follow instructions.
     + Week 1 - Paper Flowers: Download this activity to learn about the symbols used by the women's suffrage movement to show support.
     + Week 2 - DIY Sashes: Download this activity to create your own sash in support of women's suffrage. 

Iowa History 101 Series

Watch the August 13 live webinar with State Curator Leo Landis that focuses on the long march toward the 19th Amendment. For more webinars, visit Iowa History 101 Series.

Watch Videos

View historical objects - like ribbons, sashes, fans and handkerchiefs - at the State Historical Museum of Iowa that served as campaign materials used by women suffragists in Iowa. 
     + #IowaArtifact: 19th Amendment
     + Women's Suffrage Handkerchief Set in Iowa

Snapshots of Suffrage

The Iowa Women's Suffrage Collection documents key players and moments in the Iowa suffrage story, as well as national figures that influenced the movement. Use this Women's Suffrage Visual Literacy activity to help you look beyond an image to search for clues to better understand a historic photo capturing the movement.

Discover Additional Resources

Use The Goldfinch, a State Historical Society publication for children, to find activities, stories and more to celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment. Discover the lives of remarkable Iowa women who have fought for human rights. 
     + The Goldfinch: Carrie Chapman Catt and Women's Suffrage (September 1989)
     + The Goldfinch: Iowa Women of Achievement (1993)
     + Featured Webinar: "Carrie Chapman Catt: Warrior for Women"