Treasures of Carolina: Summer Edition

Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our North Carolina Digital Collections in hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials. For the month of July our theme is elections.

 The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote based on sex. It was ratified by the United States government on August 26, 1920. In 1971, North Carolina was one of the last states to ratify the bill.

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Cover letter for U.S. Constitution 19th Amendment, from the Vault Collection. State Archives of North Carolina.

The women’s suffrage movement in North Carolina began in 1894 with the formation of the North Carolina Equal Suffrage Association. The Association helped introduce a state amendment giving women the right to vote in the 1897 legislative session. The bill was referred to the Committee on Insane Asylums.

In March 1920, only one more state was needed to ratify the 19th Amendment. It came down to either Tennessee or North Carolina to be that state. Tennessee ratified the amendment in August. On August 17, the North Carolina Senate voted to postpone a vote on the 19th Amendment until a regular session. It wasn’t until 1971 that the North Carolina General Assembly made the gesture to endorse the 19th Amendment.

To see more about women’s suffrage in North Carolina, check out NCpedia on the subject.

The North Carolina State Archives also holds the Equal Suffrage Amendment Collection. Many of these items are digitized in the “Women in North Carolina 20th Century History” collection, including many fascinating anti-suffrage and pro-suffrage propaganda.

You can also see North Carolina’s copy of the 19th Amendment in the Treasures of Carolina exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History. The exhibit runs through July 31.

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