JANESVILLE - "Votes for women!"
Around 300 people gathered in Janesville on Monday to celebrate and honor key figures of the women's suffrage movement over the last 100 years, marking Wisconsin ratifying the 19th Amendment on June 10, 1919.
Supporters at Monday's event made signs with phrases from the late 1800s at a time when women were not allowed to vote, before marching to the Janesville Performing Arts Center for a special program.
With the Janesville chapter of the Wisconsin League of Women Voters, Beloit Clerk-Treasurer Lori Stottler helped bring historic figures to life by writing a living history dramatization that recognized 20 key women's suffrage leaders.
The program started with a brief history of voting rights in the United States and had actresses stand in as the figures each were honored. National women's suffrage heroines like Susan B. Anthony and Ida B. Wells, and statewide figures were recognized including Lavina Goodell, Wisconsin's first Supreme Court justice, and local suffragist Frances Willard, and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the first woman elected to Congress from Wisconsin.
Local women in key public office were also honored, including Rock County Circuit Judge Barbara McCrory, who was the first woman elected as a Rock County judge in 2012.
Through rare photos from the state and local historical societies, and hours of researching the suffrage movement, Stottler said the creative process is inspiring.
"It's my hope that people will not take our voting rights for granted," Stottler said. "We just aren't done yet. It's good to respect and treasure the past to have the energy to go forward."
Stottler said she hopes the event helped inform young people.
"We wanted to show the women who were imprisoned and oppressed. We wanted to showcase their struggles," Stottler added. "They really took this road for us."