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Dayhoff: Year of the Woman honors anniversary of 19th Amendment passage

Last January, Westminster Councilwoman Ann Gilbert gathered the leadership of the Westminster Family Center and the Recreation and Parks Department of the City of Westminster and other community leaders from throughout the county to a meeting to brainstorm how to celebrate the Year of the Woman in Westminster.

The meetings that began in January led to the formation of the Gilbert Westminster Year of the Woman Commission. At that time, the commission established a multi-media scholarship contest for the City of Westminster’s celebration of the Year of the Woman in honor of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote. It was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920, after a long struggle known as the women’s suffrage movement.

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In January 2020 Westminster Councilwoman Ann Thomas Gilbert gathered the leadership of the Westminster Family Center and the Recreation and Parks Department of the City of Westminster and other community leaders around the county to a meeting to brainstorm how to celebrate the Year of the Woman in Westminster.
In January 2020 Westminster Councilwoman Ann Thomas Gilbert gathered the leadership of the Westminster Family Center and the Recreation and Parks Department of the City of Westminster and other community leaders around the county to a meeting to brainstorm how to celebrate the Year of the Woman in Westminster. (Stephanie McCown)

The subsequent brainstorming meetings included folks such as Abby Gruber, Kristen McMasters, Sandra L. Anderson, Stephanie McCown, Jessica Taylor, Heather Mullendore, Melissa Thompson, Kati Townsend, Tasha Cramer, Christina Kuntz, and Val Giovagnoni. For a while, this writer was the token male in the group. Later I was joined by Steven Jakobovic, the new director of the Historical Society of Carroll County.

It was in late February/early March that the commission publicly announced the multi-media scholarship contest. According to the contest guidelines, the commission asked applicants to prepare a multi-media presentation or an essay of 500 words or less, about a woman that has had a positive impact. Subject matters included historical or public figures or a woman known personally to the applicant. The contest was open to college students or Carroll County school children in public or private schools or being home-schooled.

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In June it was announced that the Year of the Woman essay contest was won by Caroline Freudel, from Westminster. She graduated from Francis Scott Key High School. She is attending Hamilton College in Clinton, New York.

Freudel received a $500 scholarship, which was funded by the David and Evelyn Babylon Fund at the Community Foundation of Carroll County. Freudel wrote about her grandmother, who played many important roles in addition to teaching her to play the piano.

The Year of the Woman essay contest was won by Caroline Freudel, from Westminster, a graduate of Francis Scott Key High School. Freudel received a $500 scholarship which was funded by the David and Evelyn Babylon Fund at the Community Foundation of Carroll County. Pictured, from left, at Westminster City Hall on July 20 are Westminster Councilmembers Kevin Dayhoff and Ann Gilbert; award winner Caroline Freudel; and Caroline Babylon, representing the Community Foundation of Carroll County.
The Year of the Woman essay contest was won by Caroline Freudel, from Westminster, a graduate of Francis Scott Key High School. Freudel received a $500 scholarship which was funded by the David and Evelyn Babylon Fund at the Community Foundation of Carroll County. Pictured, from left, at Westminster City Hall on July 20 are Westminster Councilmembers Kevin Dayhoff and Ann Gilbert; award winner Caroline Freudel; and Caroline Babylon, representing the Community Foundation of Carroll County. (Photo courtesy Steve Strawsburg)

Today, there are many examples of women making a difference in our community while filling many leadership roles. However, 100 years ago women being granted the right to vote got mixed reviews in Carroll County after the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920.

For historic context, in 1878 a constitutional amendment to grant women the right to vote was introduced by Senator A. A. Sargeant of California. Suffrage supporters called the proposal the “Anthony Amendment,” named for suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony.

The issue remained contentious for four decades. When President Woodrow Wilson delivered his State of the Union message to Congress in December 1916, women in the galleries unfurled a large banner that read, “Mr. President, What Will You Do for Woman Suffrage?” On May 21, 1919, Illinois Republican Congressman James R. Mann, chairman of the Suffrage Committee, proposed a House resolution to approve the Susan Anthony Amendment granting women the right to vote.

In October 1920, after women were finally allowed to vote, the local newspapers “carried several articles about women and the election,” according to research for the Historical Society of Carroll County by historian Jay Graybeal.

An Oct. 29, 1920, newspaper article carried the headline: “The Republicans Meet, A Remarkable Gathering: “On Tuesday evening the Armory in this city was filled both to its seating and standing capacity with men and women voters of the county to hear the issues of the campaign discussed…

“The first speaker was Mrs. S. K. Herr, of this city. Mrs. Herr received an ovation as she rose to speak and was frequently interrupted by outbursts of applause. She urged the women not only to vote but to study the issues and candidates that they may vote intelligently.”

The article goes on to report: “The Republican women of Westminster district have arranged for (an instruction) room near the polling place in each precinct… The voting place in precinct No. 1 will be the old Farmers and Mechanics Bank building. … Voting place in No. 2 is Herr & Babylon’s shop... Voting place in No. 3 is Firemen’s Building… In precinct No. 4 the voting place is on Liberty street…”

After the 1920 election, the Nov. 5 issue of the Westminster paper, American Sentinel, carried the headline: “Women Disappointed Them. The men and women who were so bitterly opposed to giving women the ballot must have been keenly disappointed on Tuesday. None of the distressing scenes, turbulent conditions, verbal or physical combats predicted have been reported from any voting place in Carroll county, the State of Maryland or anywhere in the country.

“The women did not lose their womanly dignity or sacrifice the respect of the men and we have not heard of any babies neglected or husbands compelled to cook their own meals while their wives were electioneering around the polls.

“Perhaps a few women said and did some things that would have been better left unsaid and undone, but there are legions of men who do this on every election day.”

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This topic is among my favorites and the focus of a good many history articles over the years. Portions of this discussion have been published before.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. His Time Flies column appears every Sunday. Email him at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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