About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for the Expanding Democracy Conference at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

October 28, 2020

Good morning. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. Welcome to this special conference, Expanding Democracy: The 19th Amendment and Voting Rights Today.

The National Archives is the home of the 19th Amendment. And we are honored that you are joining our virtual commemoration of the centennial of this landmark document. This year, with online programs for all ages, including the Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote exhibit, we have explored the complex story of the struggle for woman suffrage, leading up to and beyond the ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920.

The campaign for woman suffrage was long, difficult, and sometimes dramatic, yet the 19th Amendment did not ensure full enfranchisement. Many women remained unable to vote long into the 20th century because of discriminatory laws. You can find records that help tell this story, including petitions, legislation, court cases, and more in the National Archives.

We believe it is crucial to continue to examine such issues today, and discussions like those you will hear today play a critical role in deepening our understanding. 

Now, to examine some of the key issues of the earlier years of the suffrage movement in more detail, I am delighted to introduce the participants in this morning’s panel. 

We are so pleased to welcome Ellen DuBois, professor emeritus of history at the University of California Los Angeles and the author, most recently, of Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote. 

We are also honored to welcome Martha S. Jones, professor of history at the Johns Hopkins University and author of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All; Manisha Sinha, professor of history at the University of Connecticut and author of The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition; and Brenda Wineapple, professor in the MFA program at Columbia University and author, most recently, of The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation

It is also a pleasure to welcome Lisa Tetrault, professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University and author of The Myth of Seneca Falls: Memory and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, 1848­–1898, to moderate this morning’s conversation. 

Please join me in welcoming our panel for this morning’s important conversation. And now thank you, Professor DuBois, for providing an overview of the origins of the suffrage movement to set the stage for the discussion.