On Aug. 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified. Today — Aug. 26, 2015 — marks the anniversary of the day it was finally adopted, thereby giving women the right to vote in the U.S. That means it's time to celebrate Women's Equality Day, and what better way to do so than with an amazing collection of photos of women voting in the 1920s? Of course, women still have a long way to go before we achieve full political, social, and economic equality, but it's important to celebrate how we've come, too.
There are a lot of ways that women clearly still aren't equal in America, from the sneakily subtle to the glaringly obvious. There's the gender pay gap, for instance, or the fact that other people's religious beliefs frequently block women's access to full healthcare coverage. There's the fact that women make up 51 percent of U.S., but only 20 percent of the House of Representatives. There are the truly horrific statistics on sexual assault and domestic violence in the United States. And there are more subtle (but no less important) things, like the fact that less than one third of all speaking roles in movies go to women.
And yet despite all of this, it's important not to underestimate how much progress we've made over the years. In 2015, 95 years after women were first allowed to vote, it's easy to take that victory for granted — and in some ways, that's a good thing. Women's right to vote should be seen as obvious, as a given, as unquestionable. But even though women always deserved the vote, getting it was incredibly difficult.
Women first formally began to organize to demand voting rights at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. And they kept on fighting for it for decades via petitions, protests, hunger strikes, civil disobedience, and action on the state and national level. By the time the 19th Amendment passed, 72 years had gone by since Seneca Falls. And while the 19th Amendment certainly didn't solve everything — for one thing, women of color were still routinely denied their right to vote — it was a major victory on the long road to equality, and one we should celebrate.
So in honor of Women's Equality Day, here are a number of powerful photographs of women voting back when it had only just become legal.
In some states, it was already legal for women to vote prior to the 19th Amendment. Here's a picture of women voting in Washington, all the way back in 1910:
And here's a woman in San Francisco voting in 1913:
But for most women, full voting rights didn't come until 1920 — at which point, they definitely exercised them:
Because getting the chance to vote was a big deal — and in fact, it still is.
Images: Library of Congress (9); Wikipedia Commons