One hundred years ago, in 1920, women in America gaining the right to vote with the 19th Amendment.
Her Vote. Her Voice. (HVHV) wants to bring more attention to this moment in history.
HVHV is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of women’s suffrage in South Dakota, educating to stimulate dialogue, and encouraging people to use their voices to vote.
“HVHV is really important because it’s a beacon and a reminder not just of the past, but it’s an icon people can look forward to moving ahead,” said Tracy Saathoff, HVHV delegate chair.
With the support of Governor Kristi Noem, the organization and its appointed delegates are putting together a plan of events, educational experiences, and more to commemorate the centennial year.
In August, the HVHV event calendar is chock-full of these events, most notably on August 18 and 26 (check the website for more events August 18 through the 26, which is Celebration Week).
August 18, the day the amendment was passed, offers the main event at Main Street Square in Rapid City, Cheers to 100 Years: Centennial Celebration Launch.
“We’ve just had to be very dynamic in these unique times. I think what’s really important. That’s not anything new for the suffragists. They did that, too. The fight for suffrage went on for over 70 years.” Tracy Saathoff
Alongside the physical, social distanced celebration in Rapid City, HVHV encourages women to host virtual home parties through March 2021.
Continue moving forward with the Forward into Light & Statewide Virtual Toast on August 26, the day the 19th Amendment was signed into law. Nationwide, women’s suffrage organizations will light up national, state, and local monuments, parks, buildings, and attractions to honor the milestone.
“It comes from a very common suffragist phrase about people moving through the darkness and into the light,” explained Saathoff. “Those will be broadcast on Dakota News Now and KOTA so that people can join together to watch the lighting.”
A virtual toast to women’s suffrage will follow the lighting event.
“The statewide toast is when the whole state can unify around this message and help lift up suffragists,” said Saathoff.
Save the Dates
+ Gallery Exhibition at the Center for Western Studies | August 16
Augustana University, Sioux Falls // 8 a.m., ends October 23
+ Oh My Cupcakes Suffrage Cakes
Oh My Cupcake Locations, Sioux Falls // 8 a.m., ends August 26
+ 2020 Women’s Suffrage Centennial Silver Dollar
catalog.usmint.gov // 11 a.m.
+ Cheers to 100 Years: Centennial Celebration Launch
Virtual Event// 7 p.m. (CT)
+ Hay Camp Summer Pints Patio Party | August 20
Hay Camp Brewing Company, Rapid City // 3 p.m., ends August 21
+ Tracy Saathoff at TEDxSiouxFalls
Washington Pavilion, Sioux Falls // 6 p.m.
+ Honor a Woman Day | August 21
hervotehervoice.org/honor // August 21. All day
+ Call for Artifacts | August 24
hervotehervoice.org/donate // Noon (CT)
+ Forward into Light & Statewide Virtual Toast | August 26
Statewide // 10:25 p.m. (CT)
*These events are updated frequently. Visit hervotehervoice.org for the full list/updates.
HVHV is also working with a few flavorful partners.
To Promote and Preserve
“We’re capturing this history for the future. As we’ve learned more about these women, the documentation of what they have done needs to be enhanced and brought to life,” said delegate chair and former South Dakota first lady Pat Miller.
And so the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation and the state archives have a call for artifacts, hoping to bring more of that history to the forefront.
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“For me, it’s capturing the history of these women and what they went through. They were considered criminals. They were jailed. They travelled thousands of miles across the country to get their message out. They failed multiple times. And they persevered,” said Miller.
While that history is essential to the mission of HVHV, that’s not the only important piece for the delegates.
“We have these women. They’ve raised families. They’ve worked on farms. They were homesteaders, business women, political supporters. Their history isn’t being recognized, so that’s a part of this project.” -Catherine Forsch, CEO of South Dakota Historical Society Foundation
Saathoff says that suffragists fought to make life better for coming generations, and she’s fighting for a similar goal.
“One hundred years from now, I hope my daughter or my niece or the women that come after, or the men that come after can look at this as an example to say you’re always going to have hard times, but you have to find a way to fight for what you believe in,” she said.
Power in Perseverance
“We’re comparing what we’re going through with the pandemic to what [suffragists] went through with the Spanish Flu,” said Miller. “The same types of things, they couldn’t gather in larger groups, traveling was difficult, but they continued to move forward and eventually were successful.”
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Though the pandemic has caused some bumps in the road, HVHV aims to persist just like the suffragists once did.
“It’s the idea of being resilient,” explained Saathoff. “We know that there are stories to tell, stories to capture. The pandemic isn’t going to stop us.”
And Saathoff has also come to a realization about her role in this mission.
“To recognize the accomplishments of the women who came before us isn’t just about the history side for me.” said Saathoff. “It’s also a symbol and a responsibility that I take on to say that I’m going to recognize and celebrate the toil it took them to open those doors. It is because of them that I don’t have to struggle as hard as they maybe had to. And that was the vision all along.”