West Virginia and the 19th Amendment

State of West Virginia depicted in purple, white, and gold (colors of the National Woman’s Party suffrage flag) – indicating West Virginia was one of the original 36 states to ratify the 19th Amendment. Courtesy Megan Springate.
State of West Virginia depicted in purple, white, and gold (colors of the National Woman’s Party suffrage flag) – indicating West Virginia was 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. Suffragistssuch as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mottconvened 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. This is called ratification. After Congress ratified the 19th Amendment, at least 36 states needed to vote in favor of it for it to become law.

On March 10, 1920, West Virginia voted in favor of the Nineteenth Amendment. By August of 1920, 36 states ratified the amendment, recognizing women's the right to vote.

State flag of West Virginia
State flag of West Virginia. CC0

West Virginia Places of Women’s Suffrage: East Wheeling Historic District

1913 marked West Virginia's 50th year as a state. To celebrate, a series of festivities were held in Wheeling. Events included pageants and dances. Organizers also planned a parade of “rubber neck suffragettes.” West Virginia suffragists found this insulting and threatened to boycott the festivities. At the time, the term “suffragette” was insulting and demeaning. The parade was cancelled and a new event was planned. The protests of West Virginia’s suffragists brought greater awareness to the issue of women’s rights across the nation. The East Wheeling Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Postcard of Wheeling in 1930s.

Discover More Places of Ratification

East Wheeling Historic District 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