Photographic portrait of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, American author, c. 1900
C.F. Lummis/Wikimedia Commons
There’s no denying that Woodstock has been the birthplace of many creative ventures in history: the Byrdcliffe Art Colony, Maverick Music Festival, Woodstock Artists Association and Museum — and even ventures that never actually took place there (cough, Woodstock Music Festival). Now, the village is trying to inspire local businesses to honor women’s rights, too.
On August 11, 2015, the town board unanimously passed a resolution to support New York State’s 2017 suffrage centennial. The resolution aims to commemorate and promote the women of Woodstock — those who have established their independence at the turn of the century, as well as those pursuing artistic endeavors today — by sponsoring a series of events that help lend more recognition to its female influencers.
“Woodstock women artists made names for themselves in the art world throughout the 20th century, and Woodstock women in general lived lifestyles significantly different from most of those in their generation,” says Olivia Twine, a Woodstock native and writer specializing in the village’s history. “They were, indeed, forerunners of the 20th century New Woman.”
The resolution is certainly timely, as August 26, 2015 marks the 95th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which famously granted women with equal voting rights. (August 26th was designated Women’s Equality Day by Congress in 1971.)
When the suffrage movement began, Woodstock became a haven for female activists such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who joined Byrdcliffe to hone her craft and collaborate with other artists.
To pay tribute to and honor its female artists, Woodstock encourages individuals, businesses, and organizations to plan, coordinate, and promote events portraying women and their accomplishments from now through 2020. It also pledges to actively participate in regional and statewide networks that promote this initiative, including the New York State Path Through History tourism network.
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States that are preparing to host women’s suffrage centennial events after New York’s 2017 celebration include Michigan, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Others — Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Washington, California, Arizona, Kansas, Oregon, Montana, and Nevada — have already celebrated their suffrage anniversaries.
To women all around America: we salute you!
For more information on upcoming events and the local women’s suffrage news, visit www.suffragecentennials.com.