On November 3 Americans will cast their ballots at polls all across the country. Thanks to the work of Alice Paul and women’s suffragists in each of our United States, women will vote alongside men. Exactly 100 years ago today, on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th and final state needed to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote.
Six months before the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the League of Women Voters was formed to “encourage informed and active participation in government, work to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influence public policy through education and advocacy.” In Nashville, the League went dormant after that ratification and wasn’t revitalized until 1948 when Molly Todd became president. Under her leadership, the Nashville League would advocate for important issues including birth control and racial integration.
Vanderbilt Special Collections and University Archives holds the Mary Hart “Molly” Todd Papers and are working to bring the largely unprocessed collection to light. 229 issues of The Nashville Voter from 1954-1985 have been digitized from the Todd Papers and the John Seigenthaler Papers. Before the pandemic struck, Special Collections student workers had begun inventorying the The Nashville Voter collection to make it more accessible to researchers.
This November, honor the life of Molly Todd and the efforts of the League of Women Voters of Nashville and all women’s suffragists, and VOTE!