New website created and hosted by HistoryIT features thousands of American women who ran for office before they had the right to vote nationally in 1920
Portland, Maine, August 1, 2016 – Hillary Clinton made history last week by becoming the first woman nominated by a major U.S. political party to run for president. But more than a century ago – before the Nineteenth Amendment promised men and women equal voting rights in 1920 – thousands of women ran for political offices ranging from school boards to the U.S. presidency.
Her Hat Was In The Ring!, a project created by three women scholars, includes information about 3,352 – and counting – women who waged campaigns across the U.S. in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. An updated version of the website was launched today.
“Given the historical moment we witnessed with Hillary Clinton’s nomination, we felt it was a perfect time to remember the trailblazers who came long before her,” said Kristen Gwinn-Becker, a historian and CEO of HistoryIT, the digital history company that created and hosts Her Hat Was In The Ring!
The new site allows visitors to search easily for and share information about women candidates who ran for office. It includes short biographies of women like Victoria Woodhull, a newspaper publisher who ran for president in 1872, and Olive Rose, who, according to the website, became the first woman elected to a U.S. political office when male Maine voters chose her as a County Register of Deeds in 1853.
“Most historians – even most scholars of women’s history – don’t know about these women,” said Wendy E. Chmielewski, Curator of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection and a co-founder of the project. “Access to political office is a significant marker of citizenship rights for women.”
Chmielewski and Jill Norgren, professor emerita at John Jay College, CUNY, joined forces almost a decade ago to find all American women who ran for local, state and national offices before the Nineteenth Amendment guaranteed women the right to vote. When they came up with the idea for the project, Hillary Clinton was beginning her primary campaign for president in 2007. “We asked ourselves, How many women ran for office before universal suffrage?” Norgren said. “We thought there’d be fewer than 100.”
Since then, more than 3,000 biographies of women who ran in over 5,000 campaigns, have been added to the site – and more are added regularly.
“Every day we learn about more women who were elected to office when the United States was still a young country,” Gwinn-Becker said. “Digitized primary sources are revealing that women always have been involved in the political process and we hope that projects like ours will be an inspiration for girls and women who aspire to political office.”
HistoryIT, Inc., a privately held international company based in Portland, Maine, provides clients with a new approach to making historical collections more accessible, discoverable and profitable. Owned and managed by professional historians and digital strategists, the innovative company brings industry-leading expertise to preserve historical collections of all types and sizes and to make them searchable in meaningful ways. Working with cultural institutions, universities, corporations, professional associations, sports teams, and others, HistoryIT leverages cutting-edge technologies and proprietary methodologies to create appealing, effective digital portals for historical resources.