photos: courtesy Wilton Historical Society
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing and protecting the right to vote for some* women. The State of Connecticut has launched the CT Women’s Suffrage Commission and is encouraging municipalities and non profits to work together to celebrate this anniversary. A number of Wilton organizations have planned events and activities to celebrate this important milestone.
Among the events are some that already have details. GOOD Morning Wilton will be listing all of the Wilton Suffrage Centennial events in our Event Calendar. Additional events are being planned and will be announced during the year. For more information, please contact Sarah Gioffre in the First Selectwoman’s office via email or by calling 203.563.0129, ext. 1128.
Movie Screening & Discussion: “The Hello Girls” Documentary
On Thursday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m., the Wilton League of Women Voters, the Wilton Library, the Wilton Historical Society, and the James B. Whipple American Legion Post 86 will all co-sponsor a movie screening and panel discussion on of the documentary film The Hello Girls. This film tells the story of the 223 women sent to France in 1918 by the U.S. Army Signal Corps to work on the war effort as telephone operators. After a 60-year effort, with the help of Senator Barry Goldwater and Congresswoman Lindy Boggs, they finally won recognition in 1977.
Panelists joining for the discussion following the screening include Ret. Captain Doris Lippman, EdD, US Army, Vietnam Veteran, and recipient of the Honorary Order of the Purple Heart; Dr. Amy Pettigrew, granddaughter of “Hello Girl” Ellen Turner and former Dean, Dade College School of Nursing and Xavier University School of Nursing; and Dr. Darla Shaw, Professor Emeritus, at Western Connecticut State University, and beloved actor/depictor of Women in History.
Registration is strongly urged, and can be done online or by calling 203.762.6334. There is no charge to attend.
Wilton Woman’s Club Short Story Contest
The Wilton Woman’s Club is holding a short story contest on the theme of the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage. Girls who are Wilton residents in grades 9-12 are encouraged to submit a fictional short story related to American women gaining the right to vote. Deadline is April 27, 2020.
The topic can be anything. Some hypothetical examples:
- A story of an 18 year old woman in 1920
- A sci-fi story about a parallel universe where women never got the right to vote
- A mystery about a conspiracy to prevent passage of the amendment
The story must be 2,500 words or less, typewritten, in English. It must be related to American women’s right to vote. The story must be original, and written by the submitter, who must be a female resident of Wilton, CT, currently in grades 9-12.
The deadline is 11:59 p.m., April 27, 2020.
Email a PDF or Word document by the deadline. Include entrant’s full name, email, and home address with the submission. By submitting, entrants agree to all contest rules.
The prize is $250.
The judging panel will be members of the Wilton Woman’s Club. The winner will be chosen based on how interesting the story is, does it relate to women’s suffrage, and does it have correct spelling and grammar. Names will be removed from entries so judging is blind, and daughters of WWC club members are eligible but receive no preference. The winner will be announced on June 1, 2020.
For more information, please visit the Wilton Woman’s Club website.
Citizens at Last: Hannah Ambler, Grace Schenck, and the Vote [Wilton Historical Society Exhibition]
On November 2, 1920, Hannah Raymond Ambler proudly wrote “It is my first vote” in her daily journal. This triumphant and poignant phrase, underlined for emphasis, captures the voice of just one of the women in Wilton who campaigned for suffrage. Grace Knight Schenck, a force to be reckoned with in the community, was a leader who organized the first women’s suffrage meeting in town. The stories of these two women are at the heart of the Wilton Historical Society’s exhibition “Citizens at Last: Hannah Ambler, Grace Schenck and the Vote” which joins the national recognition of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote.
The exhibition will use objects, images, texts, historic costumes plus a video and music to illustrate the activities and contributions of Wilton suffragists, with a special focus on Hannah Ambler and Grace Schenck—placing the local story in state and national context.
Their last names may be well known in Wilton–Ambler Farm and Schenck’s Island are local landmarks–but their individual lives are not. This exhibition, running June 20-Sept. 12, will shine a light on Hannah, Grace and other Wilton women who became citizens at last in 1920.
*Not all women won the right to vote in 1920–those benefiting from passage of the 19th Amendment were primarily white women and some African American women living in northern and western states. Southern states had enacted Jim Crow laws that kept men and women of color from the polls until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, while most Native Americans weren’t considered citizens until 1924, although many continued to be disenfranchised for years afterward. Asian-Americans didn’t have legislative voting rights until 1952 with the passage of the McCarran-Walter Act. The Voting Rights Amendment in 1975 finally broke down most barriers to other Latinx, Native and Asian American women. GMW will use the word “some” for coverage of all 19th Amendment commemorations.