Our office’s next great historical exhibit, Washington 1889: Blazes, Rails & the Year of Statehood, should be ready for the public to see on Tuesday, Oct. 21. Secretary Wyman enjoyed a sneak peak of the exhibit panels. She and our office’s Legacy Washington staff joined Washington State Historical Society Executive Director Jennifer Kilmer (second from right in the photo below) in checking out the panels shortly after they arrived. The exhibit’s official opening is Nov. 11 at 4 p.m., following festivities in the Capitol celebrating Washington’s 125th anniversary of statehood.
Pleasant Valley Middle School students Nathan Runkle and Stephanie Massart give a performance on their History Day project about Celilo Falls at the State Archives. (Photo courtesy of Benjamin Helle.)
One wonders if Ken Burns started out this way.
The Washington State Historical Society coordinates Washington History Day, which features an annual contest for students in grades 6-12 throughout the state. The State Archives, State Library and Legacy Project (all part of the Office of the Secretary of State) support History Day by having staff volunteer to serve as contest judges.
The contest encourages students to become historians by developing research, analysis, presentation and social skills. Working individually or in groups, students select a topic related to an annual theme. They conduct extensive historical research using primary sources, articles, and books, then distill their research and analysis into a dramatic performance, multimedia documentary, museum exhibit, website, or research paper.
Nine students from Gig Harbor, Spanaway and Vancouver who were high placers in this year’s contest came to Olympia this week to receive awards from State Archivist Steve Excell at the State Archives Building on the Capitol Campus. The students presented their history projects and then toured the Archives facility with their teachers and families.
The Senior Division (grades 9-12) winners for the State Archivist Award were Bethel (Spanaway) High School’s (more…)
The State Library is featuring the 13 African-Americans who have served in Washington’s Legislature, and their accomplishments. The State Library is a division of the Office of Secretary of State.
This feature is found on the State Library’s “Between The Lines” blog.
The list starts with William Owen Bush, a Republican state representative from Thurston County who served in the first state Legislature after statehood, in 1889. Bush (whose photo here is courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society) was the oldest son of pioneer George Bush, whose family settled near Tumwater in 1845.
Others include George Fleming, who served Seattle’s 37th District in the Legislature for 22 years, including 20 in the Senate; and Rosa Franklin, who represented Tacoma’s 29th District for 20 years, the last 18 in the Senate. In fact, Franklin was the first female African-American elected to the Washington State Senate.
The only African-American currently in the Legislature is 37th District Rep. Eric Pettigrew, who is the House Democratic Caucus Chair.
In 1910, Emma Smith DeVoe and May Arkwright Hutton led campaigns in Washington supporting the women’s suffrage amendment. The ballot measure to amend Article VI of the Washington Constitution was on the 1910 General Election ballot and was passed by majority of 22,623, a favorable vote of nearly 2 to 1. Washington State joined the western states of Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Idaho, that had already enacted women’s suffrage. Washington was the first state in the 20th century to pass women’s suffrage. Governor Hay signed the proclamation on November 8, 1910.
Image courtesy of Washington State Archives
In 1889, Congress passed the Enabling Act, which “enabled” Washington to draft a state constitution and request admission to the Union. During the Washington State Constitutional Convention, women petitioned the delegates to include women’s suffrage in the new state constitution. The issue was presented to the voters as a separate amendment on the ballot. In the ensuing vote, 16,527 voters voted to include the amendment granting women the right to vote, but 34,613 voted no. The measure failed to pass, though the new constitution authorized women to vote in school elections.
In 1897, the Fusionist and Populist reformers in the state Legislature passed a bill to provide for a statewide vote to amend the Washington Constitution to grant women’s suffrage. Despite work by suffrage groups statewide, the amendment lost by a vote of 30,540 to 20,658.
1909 saw suffragists from around the nation arriving in to Seattle to attend the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. The suffragists brilliantly utilized the event as a forum to promote voting rights for women. Encouraged by the fanfare, the Legislature passed an act which would put women’s suffrage on the 1910 ballot as a constitutional amendment.
Mark your calendars for November 7 and 8 for two events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the vote to amend the Washington Constitution for women’s right to vote in the state as part of a Day of Jubilation. The American Association of University Women is sponsoring a Women’s Suffrage Pink Tea at the State Capital Museum in Olympia on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit this website for more details!
The Office of the Secretary of State, the WSHS/Women’s History Consortium, and the Interagency Committee for State Employed Women (ICSEW) have planned a full day of events, exhibits, performances, activities and celebrations at the Legislative Building and Temple of Justice on Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The day will begin with a 9:15 parade from the Washington State Archives to the Legislative Building. Dress in your suffrage whites or your 1910 regalia! Please visit the Day of Jubilation website for information on the day’s events.
All events are free and open to the public.
1887 and 1888 proved to be dark years for the women’s suffrage movement in Washington. In the 1887 case of Harland v. Territory, the Territorial Supreme Court overturned the Women’s Suffrage Act of 1886 because it allowed women to serve on juries. Justice George Turner (photo on left courtesy of Washington State Archives), who firmly believed that women were incapable of voting intelligently on public matters (tsk-tsk!), ruled that the title of the 1886 election law was defective and the law giving women the right to vote was revoked. The ruling of the court snatched the voting franchise away from women before they had a real chance to exercise it.
On January 18, 1888, the Washington Territorial Legislature passed a new law, specifically stating: “That all citizens of the United State, male and female, above the age of twenty-one years . . . shall be entitled to vote at any election in this Territory. . .” However, the law went on to state: “. . . nothing in this act shall be so construed as to make it lawful for women to serve as jurors.” Once the January law was passed, women could vote once again, but they couldn’t serve on juries.
Believing that women’s suffrage would conflict with his business interests, saloon owner Edward Bloomer of Spokane hatched a plot to end women’s suffrage. On April 3, 1888, Bloomer marched his wife, Nevada, to the polls. After marking her ballot, she handed it to the election official who, as pre-arranged, refused to accept it. A few days later, Nevada Bloomer sued the election officials for $5,000 for “wrongfully depriving her of the privilege of voting.” The case was appealed to the Territorial Supreme Court. On August 14, 1888, the Court struck down the territorial women’s suffrage law, asserting that “citizen” meant male citizenship, and that the territorial law conflicted with federal law.
My post is full of all kinds of drama and excitement today! I have some good news, and then I have some bad news, but I’m going to end my post with some really great news.
The good news: on November 11, 1881, the Washington Territorial House of Representatives passed House Bill 103, a women’s suffrage bill by a vote of 13 to 11. The bad news is that the measure was voted down by the Territorial Council, five to seven. Please keep your chins up, my friends! Next week’s post will be far more upbeat.
My really great news of the day is this: we are only two months away from the Day of Jubilation! Huzzah! Huzzah! Eh, what’s that?
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in Washington, our office is coordinating with the Women’s History Consortium, Washington State Historical Society, Temple of Justice, Governor’s Office, League of Women Voters, and the Interagency Committee of State Employed Women to put on a two-day jubilatory party in Olympia. Below is a basic outline of events.
On November 7th, please visit the State Capital Museum between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. for a Women’s Suffrage Commemorative Pink Tea.
On November 8th, please come to the Capitol Campus for a full day of performances, films, and presentations, culminating with a formal program at 4:00.
So start brushing off your suffrage whites and top hats, and stay tuned for more information!
The year was 1878. In hope of qualifying Washington for statehood, a Constitutional Convention was held in Walla Walla to draft a state constitution (which Congress failed to ratify). A separate measure granting women to vote was put on the ballot, but it was rejected by a three-to-one margin of all-male voters.