Alaska and the 19th Amendment

Picture of state of Alaska in gray – indicating it was not one of the original 36 states to ratify the 19th Amendment. Courtesy Megan Springate
Picture of state of Alaska in gray – indicating it was not one of the original 36 states to ratify the 19th Amendment.

CC0

Women first organized and collectively fought for suffrage at the national level in July of 1848. Suffragists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott convened a meeting of over 300 people in Seneca Falls, New York. In the following decades, women marched, protested, lobbied, and even went to jail. By the 1870s, women pressured Congress to vote on an amendment that would recognize their suffrage rights. This amendment became known as the 19th Amendment.

After decades of arguments for and against women's suffrage, Congress finally voted in favor of the 19th Amendment in 1919. After Congress passed the 19th Amendment, at least 36 states needed to vote in favor of it for it to become law. In August of 1920, 36 states ratified the 19th Amendment, recognizing women’s right to vote.

Margaret Vale (Mrs. George Howe), niece of President Woodrow Wilson representing Alaska in a suffrage parade in New York, Oct. 1915. Library of Congress.
Margaret Vale (Mrs. George Howe), niece of President Woodrow Wilson representing Alaska in a suffrage parade in New York, Oct. 1915.

Library of Congress, Bain Collection. https://www.loc.gov/item/2001704320/

As Alaska did not become a state until 1959, it was unable to vote for or against the 19th Amendment. But the Alaska territory granted women full voting rights in 1913 – seven years before the 19th Amendment was ratified. While white women in the Alaska Territory could now vote, Indigenous women could not.

Activists from the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood advocated for Native suffrage rights. In 1915, the Alaska Territorial Legislature recognized the right of Indigenous people to vote if they gave up tribal customs and traditions.


Alaska Places of Women’s Suffrage: Governor's Mansion

When the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, Alaska was still a territory. Because it was not yet a state, Alaska could not vote for or against the amendment. But in 1913, Governor Walter Clark created a law recognizing women's suffrage rights. As a result, Alaska women were able to vote seven years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Alaska State Flag, CC0
Alaska State Flag, CC0

While white women in the Alaska Territory could now vote, Native women could not. The Governor's Mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is not open to the public.

Black and white photo of the front of governor's mansion with large white pillars. Lib of Cong. CC0

Discover More Places of Ratification

The Governor's Mansion is an important place in the story of ratification. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sources used to make these state pages include: Ida Husted Harper's History of Woman Suffrage: 1900-1920, Volume 6 (1922), the National American Woman Suffrage Association papers (Library of Congress), and National Register nominations from the National Park Service.

Last updated: April 11, 2019