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 was sometimes known as the Susan B. Anthony amendment and became the 19th Amendment.
The amendment reads:
"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."
After decades of arguments for and against women's suffrage, Congress finally passed the 19th Amendment in June 1919. After Congress passed the 19th Amendment, at least 36 states needed to vote in favor of it for it to become law. This process is called ratification. In August of 1920, 36 states ratified the 19th Amendment, ensuring that the right to vote could not be denied based on sex.
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.
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.
Last updated: August 22, 2019