Cass County Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative to host Indiana Historical Society’s traveling exhibit marking 100th Anniversary of Voting Rights for Women

Logansport, Indiana – The Cass County Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative (WVCI) invites visitors to enjoy a new traveling exhibit from the Indiana Historical Society (IHS) marking the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which recognized a woman’s right to vote.  The exhibit, “Securing the Vote: Women’s Suffrage in Indiana” will be open to the public at appointed times from February 10-21 in the Bicentennial Room of the Cass County Court House. The Cass County Initiative is also scheduling times for classroom field trips and other groups wanting to tour the exhibit privately.

Securing the Vote: Women’s Suffrage in Indiana explores how women across the state labored for suffrage through countless meetings, campaigns and other grassroots efforts.  Guests will learn how, despite many defeats and setbacks, they persisted toward the goal of full citizenship and the power to make change through voting.

According to WVCI chairperson, Cindy Howard, there are several upcoming events planned featuring the exhibit. The first public event will take place on Monday, Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m. where local sororities and ladies groups are invited to hear a presentation “The Suffragette Journey in Indiana” by Cynthia Lipken, outreach coordinator for the Indiana University-Kokomo Library.

On February 13, the public is invited to an Open House from 5-8 p.m. hosted by the Daughters of the American Revolution. The group present a program at 6 p.m. by Claudia Benn which will focus on Cass County women instrumental in the Suffrage movement, followed by a portrayal of  Harry T. Burn – the 25-year-old Senator from Tennessee whose vote broke a 48-48 tie allowing the ratification of the 19th Amendment. He changed his vote to an “Aye” after reading a letter from his mother.  The portrayals will be performed by Caleb Sedam and his mother, Diann. Members of the DAR will be in costume and refreshments will be served.

A public Open House will be held from 1 – 4 p.m. on Sunday, February 16th,. In addition to the IHS display, there will be items from the Ridlen Museum of Political Communication, the Cass County Historical Society and a program by Jonathan Fisher featuring the history of Indiana’s first female attorney and Suffragette Helen Gougar with items from her historical home which now houses Fisher Funeral Chapel  in Lafayette. Light refreshments will be served.

The traveling exhibit covers the first Indiana Women’s Rights Convention held in Dublin, Indiana.  In 1851, and follows the fight through Indiana’s ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.  Along the way, it delves into stories of change at the local level, such as the first woman elected to the Indianapolis School Board in 1909.  The exhibit also follows the evolution of state groups, such as the Legislative Council of Women.

Howard states that after reading a press release about Indiana’s Suffrage Centennial plans, she sent a letter Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch’s office in July. Howard set out to form a bipartisan committee in Cass County which began meeting in September 2019. The Cass County Women’s Vote Intitiative committee members also include: Cheryl Alcorn, Claudia Benn, Jean Cole, Dawn Fisher, Beth Liming, Sue Ridlen, and Lita Rouser.

“In addition to celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, our goal is to help people realize that our right to vote came at a great price.  Countless soldiers have lost their lives battling for our Democracy and the right to self-govern.  And women waited a long time for that right.  Considering the poor turn-out of voters in past elections in Cass County, we want to get citizens registered to vote and help them understand the importance of exercising their vote.  At all events, we will have voter registration forms readily available,” said Howard.

“There are several upcoming events that will be fun and educational,” Howard continued.  “On June 20th  a Vintage Style show featuring key women from Cass County’s own suffrage movement will be presented by Jean Cole, of the Cole Clothing Museum, at Calvary Presbyterian Church.  Tickets will go on sale this spring.  The Cass County Queen contest is planning to incorporate the Centennial theme in their annual competition to kick off the 4-H fair.  From July 13-17, the Logansport Art Association will be getting children involved in the initiative during their annual Mimi Leslie’s Art Camp with a painting activity, “Rock the Vote” by painting rocks which will be placed around the community – reminding people to vote.”

In August, the Niddee Shrine Guild has committed to provide a float to celebrate the Centennial which coincides with the local Shrine Club’s 100th year during the August 22nd  Shrine Frolic parade.  August will also bring a patriotic art show presented by the Logansport Art Association with a special “Vote” theme culminating with an awards reception from 5:30 – 7 p.m. on August 27th.

To recognize the actual day that women first voted 100 years ago, the committee is planning a group photo on Wednesday, August 26th.   “Plans are underway to gather as many women as possible to spell out the word, VOTE,” explained Howard.  “That will be the grand finale of our Centennial celebration – to capture this moment in history.”

The Cass County Historical Society has partnered with the committee to bring the IHS exhibit to Cass County.  The committee encourages other groups to come up with ways to celebrate the Centennial.  The Women’s Vote Centennial is part of a national and state incentive to mark this historic milestone.  Additional information can be found on their web pages at www.indianasuffrage100.org and www.womensvote100.org.

Local events will be published through the Cass County 2020 WVCI Facebook page @Cass2020WVCI

“In addition to celebrating the Centennial and getting people to register to vote, our committee is adding all of these activities on to a state and national “trail” of events that will hopefully bring people to our community to shop and eat out, and more importantly – see that Cass County is a great place to live,” Howard added.

Teachers, group or businesses would like to piggy back the local WVCI efforts should contact Howard to add their events to the calendar.  If your history class, school or group would like to arrange a tour of the IHS exhibit, Cindy Howard may be reached at 574-721-5505.

SOURCE: News release from Cass County Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative (WVCI)