Janice Walker with the Great Bend chapter of the League of Women Voters welcomed the public Friday afternoon to a reception at the Great Bend Public Library marking the final day the seven-panel 19th Amendment traveling exhibit would be on display. At the end of the day, it was dismantled and carefully prepared for transport to Topeka.
Beginning in early December, the exhibit was installed at the Barton Community College library resource center, and later, it was moved to the library at Great Bend High School where librarian Emily Mulch presented it to numerous classes during its stay there. From there, it made its final stop in the area at the Great Bend Public Library beginning Dec. 13.
The League of Women Voters was established first in Kansas back in 1920 after the 19th Amendment was ratified and women gained the universal right to suffrage. The display detailed the numerous women, many of them from Kansas, who fought to secure that right.
Some visitors shared their views on voting, writing reactions on post-it notes arranged on a poster near an information kiosk near the display.
“Vote for what will make our country better,” and “I will vote for candidates that support our schools!” were among some of the sentiments. Another stated, “Women had to struggle and fight for the right to vote. They were met with resistance from men and women -- Women need to stand up for each other. Vote for fair & just rights to all.”
The display featured historical suffragists that will be the focus of presentations to come in the coming months as national state and local chapters of the League of Women voters throughout the country celebrate their centennial anniversary and 100 years of women exercising their right to vote.
“Every time I set up this display, I reread it, and I’m learning so much about the Kansas suffrage movement,” Walker said. “As one of the panels says, 1912 was when Kansas women were able to vote in all elections, so it’s a real experience I think for Great Bend to be reminded of our history of suffrage, and how progressive we were.”
Going forward, the League of Women Voters has two upcoming events that will bring to life some of the women whose achievements have been highlighted on the 19th Amendment display.
A historical performer from the Institute of Historical Echoes will present Carrie Chapman Catt, head of the National Women’s Organization and founder of the League of Women Voters in February. Catt esd s vocal suffragist who mobilized volunteers for what would be the final push in Tennessee the day the final vote was cast in favor of the 19th Amendment, making it the law of the land. The presentation will occur at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, in the basement of the Great Bend Public Library.
Then, in August, a portrayal of militant suffragist Alice Paul is planned for Saturday afternoon, Aug. 29, once again in the library basement.
Walker shared that the Great Bend League of Women Voters, in cooperation with the Great Bend Tribune and Great Bend High School video arts teacher Dan Heath, has produced a video featuring several Barton County women speaking about how the right to vote has impacted their lives and the lives of their mothers and grandmothers. The video will be on display in September at the 2020 Kansas State Fair.
The GBLWV also plans to hold voter sign up events in 2020, with details to be announced in the coming months.