Making Democracy Work

Centennial & Suffrage History

We're celebrating! The League and the 19th Amendment are turning 100!

Centennial Essay Contest for 7th and 8th Graders

In anticipation of the 19th Amendment's passage giving women the right to vote, the League of Women Voters was first proposed at the National American Woman Suffrage Association's (NAWSA) convention March 24, 1919, and within a month charters were obtained for the League of Women Voters of Rhode Island and the League of Women Voters of Providence. The League of Women Voters national organization was formally established on February 14, 1920 at the NAWSA convention in Chicago.

The 19th Amendment was passed and signed into law August 26, 1920!

Essay Contest

Shall Not Be Denied Essay contest for 7th and 8th graders

The League of Women Voters of RI and the RI Secretary of State invite all Rhode Island 7th and 8th grade students to participate in a state-wide essay contest inspired by the passage of the 19th amendment: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Essays may address topics such as: why voting matters; present-day barriers to voting; reasons for low voter turnout; or advocacy more broadly. State-wide winner(s) will receive a cash prize and will be invited to read their essays aloud during an event at the Rhode Island State House.


  • Any RI student in 7th-8th grade (or equivalent) may participate.
  • Submission is a 300-500 word essay.
  • Essays must be typed, double spaced, and in 12-point font.
  • Submissions are due March 31, 2020
  • State-wide winner(s) will receive cash prizes and be invited to read their essays aloud during an event at the RI State House.
  • Classroom winners: Authors of the top three essays in each classroom will receive a citation from Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea.

Teachers, if you plan to have your class participate in this contest, please email and let us know.

RI Suffragists & History

The Story of the Ratification Celebration
From The Woman Citizen, Volume 4, By Alice Stone Blackwell

"Bleeding feet wore smooth the path by which you climb up today."
A talk given by Elizabeth C. Stevens at a League of Women Voters meeting, Rhode Island Statehouse, April 10, 2019.

RI Suffragists featured at Centennial Event
Agnes M. Bacon
Alva Vanderbilt Belmont
Anna Garlin Spencer
Bertha G. Higgins
Deborah Knox Livingston
Elizabeth Buffum Chace
Esther H. Abelson
Julia Ward Howe
Mabel E. Orgelman
Mary E. Jackson
Paulina Wright Davis
Sara M. Algeo

Online History
History of Woman Suffrage: Volume 4 (Rhode Island 1868-1900, pgs. 907-927 pdf)
History of Woman Suffrage: 1900-1920 (Rhode Island, pgs. 565-578 pdf) edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan Brownell Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Ida Husted Harper
The Story of a Sub-Pioneer by Sarah M. Algeo

Upcoming Events

"From Seneca Falls to the 19th Amendment: Songs of the American Woman Suffrage Movement Wednesday, March 11, 2020 6-7:30 P.M. Westerly Library Auditorium
LWV of South County in partnership with the Friends of the Westerly Library.
See Calendar for more details. Flyer

Past Events

Why They Marched: Celebrating the Centennial of Women's Suffrage
A talk by the book's author Susan Ware, a pioneer in the field of women's history and a leading feminist biographer. She is the author and editor of numerous books on twentieth-century U.S. history.
March 3, 2020 7 PM
Salve Regina University, O'Hare Academic Bldg, Bazarsky Lecture Hall, 36 Ochre Point Avenue, Newport

The League of Women Voters South County presents
"One Woman, One Vote"
Saturday Movie Matinee, January 25, 2020 Westerly Library Auditorium at 1 PM
This is the first in a series of programs in 2020 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women's the right to vote. Adults and teens are invited.
For more information

On January 6, 1919 the RI House and Senate voted to ratify the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. In celebration, the League of Women Voters held a grand party inviting all who had played a part in the great victory.

The 2020 Celebration invitation

The party was a success!

To see more photos of the gala event, go to our Facebook page.


Speaker Elizabeth C. Stevens made the lives and times of RI Women's Suffrage pioneers Paulina Wright Davis and Elizabeth Buffum Chace come alive.

Elizabeth C. Stevens is the author of Elizabeth Buffum Chace and Lillie Chace Wyman: A Century of Abolitionist, Suffragist and Workers' Rights Activism

Linda Jenkins, Susan Escherich, Nina Rossomando, Representative Carson, Marian Styles-McClintock, and Hollie Courage
APRIL 10TH - HOUSE PROCLAMATION Representative Lauren H. Carson honored the League of Women Voters of Rhode Island on its upcoming centennial with a resolution today. She thanked the state chapter for always advocating tirelessly to shape public policy in support of equality, voter access, health care, education, employment and a safer environment.


Senator Dawn Euer speaking to her resolution on April 3rd celebrating the Rhode Island League's and the Providence League's 100th Anniversaries.

Elisabeth Head, Hollie Courage, Jane Koster (LWVRI President), Senator Gayle L. Goldin, Senator Dawn Euer

League of Women Voters of Providence fourth annual fundraising tea celebrating 100 years promoting issues and voter information. September 23, 2019, Blithewold. More photos on Facebook

Photos: Allan Millora Photography