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Film Finders: Exploring Special Topics

Banner Image featuring photos of women participating in political rallies and holding signs that read "Votes for Women"

For the 2020/21 year, the Film & Video Collection at Morris Library celebrates the centennial of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by highlighting selected titles below.  Explore films and documentaries related to women’s suffrage.  This display has been created in celebration of the Special Collections & Museums exhibit Votes for Delaware Women:  A Centennial Exhibition, viewable online.

Women's Suffrage

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

Facts from the Delaware Public Archives                     

     The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote in America, was first proposed and rejected in 1878, then reintroduced every year for the next 41 years. In 1984, Mississippi became the last state to ratify it.

      In 1797, New Jersey temporarily granted voting rights to unwed women. For the next 10 years, single women were permitted to cast ballots. Married women weren’t given this privilege because their husbands legally controlled every piece of property they owned.

     Not all suffrage opponents were men. Alice Hay Wadsworth was among the most prominent women to denounce what became the 19th amendment. Wadsworth was the former president of the National Association Opposed to Women’s Suffrage and the wife of Senator James Wolcott Wadsworth, Jr., Republican of New York.

     Eight days after the 19th amendment was ratified, 10 million women joined the electorate.

Amendment 19: Women's Right to Vote (2004)

Cover Art for Amendment 19: Women's Right to VoteAmendment 19: Women's Right to Vote  Cambridge Educational 2004

Examines the struggle of the women's suffrage movement and its role in the eventual passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Legal experts discuss the amendment as a constitutional document and explain the changes it brought about in American life.

Available on DVD

California Women Win the Vote (2011)

2 women on horseback carrying signs California Women Win the VoteCalifornia Women Win the Vote, Ishtar Films 2011

Using both historical materials and live reenactments, this film presents the dramatic Suffrage campaign that won the women of California the right to vote nine years before the Federal Amendment. The campaign becomes a role model and motivation for the rest of the country; today, the tactics and spirit of these women are a guide and an inspiration for citizen activism in a democratic society.

Available on DVD

The Emerging Woman (1974)

Women marching down a street, carrying signs, for the right to voteThe Emerging Woman  Women's Film Project  1974

Traces the history of women's liberation in the United States, from the beginning of the 19th century, when women occupied a limited and inferior position in society, up to the present day, when many are discovering their strength and establishing a new identity. Using graphics, still photographs and archival film material, it highlights notable women and their contributions to the women's rights movement, and touches upon a wide range of social, political and economic issues, from the campaign for voting rights to the feminist movement in perspective.

Available on DVD

Hearts and Hands (1987)

Picture of a woman sewingHearts and Hands  New Day Films 1987

In the nineteenth century women made quilts: to cover their beds, to create artistic vision, and to express their political sentiments. In this film we have pieced together the primary materials of women's lives - diaries, letters, photographs, and quilts - to tell a new story of nineteenth century lives.

Available on DVD

Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice (1989)

Picture of Ida B. WellsIda B. Wells: A Passion for Justice California Newsreel 1989

Chronicles the life of Ida B. Wells, an early Afro-American journalist and activist who protested lynchings, the treatment of Afro-American soldiers, and other forms of racism and injustice toward black Americans around the turn of the century. Her involvement in the women's suffrage movement is also described.

Available on DVD

Available as eVideo

Inez Mulholland: Forward Into Light (2016)

Cover Art for Inez HollandInez Mulholland: Forward Into Light  Wild West Women  2016

This short documentary tells the story of American icon, Inez Milholland, who broke convention with her striking conscience advocating for gender equality, pacifism, racial justice, unions, and free speech in the twentieth century. She became the voice of suffrage.

Available on DVD

Iron Jawed Angels (2004)

Cover art for Iron Jawed AngelsIron Jawed Angels HBO Video 2004

The dramatized story of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, leaders of the suffragist women who fought for the passage of the 19th Amendment. They broke from the mainstream women's rights movement to create a more activist wing, daring to push the boundaries to secure women's voting rights in 1920.

Available on DVD

Available as eVideo

Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony (1999)

Cover Art for Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony

Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony  Paramount Home Entertainment  1999

Presents the history of women's suffrage in the United States through the dramatic, often turbulent friendship of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan Anthony. The film covers the years from their youth up to the establishment of the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1868 then spans the period from 1868 to the passage in 1919 of the 19th amendment to the Constitution which gave women the vote.

Available on DVD

Available as eVideo

One Vote (2004)

One Vote Iris Films 2004

“One Vote” is a 6-minute video about women and voting. At a time when women’s political muscle is more crucial than ever, “One Vote” aims to free voters from hopelessness, apathy and self-imposed disenfranchisement. Through interviews with women from various walks of life, the video captures the political attitudes, feelings, beliefs and desires of millions of women.

Available on DVD

One Woman, One Vote (1995)

Cover Art for One Woman, One VoteOne Woman, One Vote   PBS  1995

Documents the 72-year struggle for women's suffrage which culminated in the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. It illuminates the alliances, infighting, betrayals and defeats that paved the way for victory in the battle for women's right to vote.

Available on DVD

Available as eVideo

Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change (2006)

Cover Art for Sisters of SelmaSisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change   PBS 2006

A look back at 1965 and the unsung soldiers of the voting rights marches. Catholic nuns from across the country answered Martin Luther King's call to join the protests in Selma, Alabama.

Available on DVD

Suffragette (2016)

Cover Art for SuffragetteSuffragette  Universal Studios Home Entertainment  2016

Inspired by true events, this film explores the passion and heartbreak of the women who risked everything in their fight for equality in early 20th century Britain.

Available on DVD

Available as eVideo

Suffragettes in the Silent Cinema (2008)

smiling women waving flags Suffragettes in the Silent Cinema  Women Make Movies  2008

In the days before movies could talk, silent films spoke clearly of sexual politics. This assemblage of silent era footage opens a window on how filmmakers on both sides of the women's suffrage issue used the medium to create propaganda and images about women.

Available on DVD