Posted by & filed under Special Days.


Our national parks have partially reopened after being temporarily closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions. This reopening comes just in time to celebrate the 100th birthday of Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. Hot Springs was officially designated a national park on March 4, but its history goes back thousands of years.

Over 10,000 years ago, native inhabitants of the area came to the Ouachita Mountains to quarry novaculite for their stone tools and weapons. In 1771 French explorer Jean Bernard Bossu encountered Native Americans who partook of the allegedly healing waters on the lower east slope of Hot Springs Mountain.

In 1804 President Thomas Jefferson commissioned the Hunter-Dunbar Expedition to explore the to explore the “Washita” River and “the hot springs” in the southern reaches of the Louisiana Purchase, and in 1818 a treaty with the Quapaw Nation conveyed territory containing the hot springs to the United States. In 1832 the area was designated by Congress as Hot Springs Reservation, making it the oldest federally protected site in the country. Before long, the springs’ reputation spread, and a bustling spa city blossomed as visitors journeyed from across the United States to bathe in the or to “quaff the elixir.” On March 4, 1921, the name was officially changed to Hot Springs National Park.

During its heyday, the springs attracted such illustrious visitors as Babe Ruth, Helen Keller and the gangster Al Capone. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or just into family fun, you too will something to enjoy at Hot Springs National Park.

Centennial Activities

If you happen to be in the park today or Saturday, you can participate in a number of celebratory activities:

For everyone’s safety, facemasks are required on federal lands and visitors are reminded to maintain social distancing wherever possible.

If you can’t be at the park in person, don’t fret! Whip up a batch of cupcakes and celebrate at home by watching a special anniversary video on social media that will be released by the Park on March 4 in conjunction with the event at the Fordyce. Interact with Hot Springs National Park on the following social media sites:

A centennial celebration such as this only occurs once every 100 years! Mark your calendars and make plans to join in on the celebrations all year long, either in person or online. For questions or additional information about the centennial, please contact Hot Springs National Park at (501) 620-6715 or visit the park online at www.nps.gov/hosp.

Selected Online Resources

Keep Up-to-Date on Events: Centennial events will be occuring throughout this entire year! Stay up to date on all the happenings in Hot Springs. From art and music to natural wonders, if you’re looking for something fun to do in Hot Springs, you’ll find it here

Request a Free Vacation Guide: Planning on taking an Hot Springs vacation this year? This free vacation-planning guide provides valuable information about Hot Springs National Park as well as lodging and places to stay attractions and fun things to do, an events calendar, and free discount coupons for Hot Springs hotels, restaurants, events, attractions and shops.

Get the Newsletter: Sign up for the Destination Hot Springs weekly newsletter for all the insider information on Hot Springs.

Follow the Blog: Read all sorts of interesting facts and stories about Hot Springs by following their official blog.

Explore the Media Room: Journalists and the general public can find press releases, free photos, logos, reports, and even downloadable Zoom backgrounds in the Hot Springs Media Room.

Visit the official Hot Springs National Park website at https://www.hotsprings.org/ for many more online resources.

Selected Resources at the Eagle Commons Library

Check the UNT Libraries Catalog for our many resources related to Hot Springs National Park. These are only a few of the publications available at the Eagle Commons Library:

Hot Springs National Park [brochure]
I 29.21:H 79 

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas [map]
I 29.6:H 79/9/ 2020 

The Golden Age of Bathing at the Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center, Hot Springs National Park
I 29.2:B 32/4

Junior Ranger Archeology Program
I 29.171:AR 2 
Also online at https://purl.fdlp.gov/GPO/gpo83556

Out of the Vapors: A Social and Architectural History of Bathhouse Row: Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
I 29.2:B 32/3 

The Waters of Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas—Their Nature and Origin
I 19.16:1044-C 
Also online at http://purl.fdlp.gov/GPO/gpo90737

Article by Bobby Griffith.

Posted by & filed under Get Help.

image of tax forms

The 2021 Tax Season officially starts on February 12, 2020, meaning this is the first day the IRS will begin accepting tax returns (sorry to those that might have anxiously filed already). Here we will highlight a few things to know about this year’s tax season, how to get forms, help for filing, and a few other things of possible help or interest.

IRS.gov

If you haven’t visited the IRS website in awhile, you should! IRS.gov has always been a one-stop-shop for all things tax related, although it hasn’t always been intuitive or easy to navigate. However, the site has undergone quite a facelift and is much easier to use. The most frequently accessed and timely tax-related activities of tax payers and businesses are now front and center. These include accessing tax forms, tracking your return, filing for your Economic Impact Payment, or requesting Coronavirus Tax Relief. If, in the past, you feared visiting IRS.gov, fear no more. 

Tax Forms

Tax forms and instructions can be accessed at IRS.gov. The IRS has taken the care to put the most requested forms and instructions front and center. Tax filers needing forms beyond the most requested can search by form number or keyword. 

For those needing printed forms, many public libraries offer forms and instructions. Typically the most common or frequently requested forms are available at local public libraries.

If you’re in the city of Denton, Texas and would like paper forms, the Denton Public Library is here to help. At the time of drafting this post, the DPL is only offering curbside service. As a result of this service modification, the 1040 and 1040-SR Forms Booklet can be picked up at the front entrances of South Branch Library and Emily Fowler or at North Branch Library’s drive-through window from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. This booklet contains Forms 1040 and 1040-SR, Schedules 1 through 3 and Schedule LEP. If you need other forms or instructions, call at least 30 minutes ahead. Staff will print them and have them ready before you arrive. (Call 940-349-8752 and choose the General Questions option.)

Free File and Tax Prep Assistance

Free File

Though tax season hasn’t officially started, Free File is OPEN! As a reminder, Free File is a partnership between the IRS and many tax preparation filing websites. Free File is available to anyone though those earning over $72,000 per year have fewer free options. Here’s a breakdown of what’s available for those earning under and over $72,000.

Income $72,000 and below Income above $72,000
  • Free federal tax filing on an IRS partner site
  • State tax filing (free with some offers)
  • Guided preparation – simply answer questions
  • Online service does all the math
  • More about IRS Free File
  • Free electronic forms you fill out and file yourself
  • No state tax filing
  • You should know how to prepare paper forms 
  • Basic calculations with limited guidance

Free File Fillable Forms: Opens February 12, 2021

Free Tax Prep Assistance

The Denton County United Way is back this year with their VITA Tax Preparation service, which provides tax prep assistance to those that earned up to $58,000. The service kicks off on February 8, 2021 and will be completely virtual. 

For information about other free tax preparation services as well as services for specific populations, visit my colleague Bobby Griffith’s tax services post from March 2020.

Economic Impact Payments: what to know

If you haven’t received any or all of your COVID-related economic stimulus payments, you can check your payment status at IRS.gov. If you find that you have not received your payment, or if you do not normally file taxes, you  may qualify for the credit. See Recovery Rebate Credit for more information.

Taxes can be confusing and stressful, but they don’t have to be. If you find yourself in need of help, reach out to UNT’s Government Information Connection for help. If we don’t have the answer, we can connect you to someone that does. 

Posted by & filed under Local Doings, Make a Difference, Special Days.

MLK Day of Service


Many of us take a day off from work or classes on the third Monday in January to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This day has been designated a national holiday since 1983, but since 1994 it has also been designated a national day of service.

The MLK Day of Service provides an opportunity for all Americans to help bring Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community” a little closer to reality by engaging in action that helps solve social problems, working against the triple evils of poverty, racism, and militarism to create a society where all people can share in the wealth of the earth, and conflicts are resolved peacefully through a mutual commitment to King’s principles, philosophy, and techniques of nonviolence.

How You Can Be Involved

Learn More About Martin Luther King, Jr.

More information about Dr. King and his philosophy can be found at The King Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Shortly after Dr. King’s assassination, his widow Coretta Scott King established this nongovernmental, nonprofit organization to provide research, education, and training in King’s principles, philosophy, and techniques of nonviolence. The Center champions the causes of freedom, justice, and equality by working to eliminate poverty, build community, and foster peace. 

Other resources, including a large collection of online documents, are available at Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.

Other Ways You Can Make a Difference

Service to your community doesn’t have to be limited to one day a year! Learn more about ways you can become active in your national, state, and local community at the UNT Libraries Civic Engagement Portal.

Let’s each take some time on this special day to make a contribution to our community, keeping in mind these immortal words of Dr. King:

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?

Article by Bobby Griffith

Posted by & filed under Local Doings, Special Days.

texas state capitol chamber

It’s been a tragic and tumultuous few weeks for national politics and the United States. As a result of national goings-on, it might be easy to forget that today is the start of the 87th Texas Legislative session.

The 87th Texas Legislative convenes today, January 21 and ends on May 31, 2021. In light of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week and on going concerns over the spread of the Coronavirus, security at the Texas capitol has been increased and many lawmakers are sitting out the swearing in ceremony and considering the safest way to carry out the business of legislating.

So, what’s in store for the 87th Texas Legislative session? Of course, the budget. And redistricting of the Texas political boundaries. The 2020 Decennial Census, which serves as the basis for state redistricting, has been hampered by lawsuits, deadline changes, and a myriad of other issues hamper, including COVID-19. As a result, the release of the 2020 Census counts is still unclear. Despite these challenges, the 2020 Census was the first to provide opportunity to respond to the survey online. The Pew Research Center offers a synopsis of the challenges surrounding the 2020 Decennial Census.

In addition to these two massive undertakings — budget and redistricting — Texas lawmakers filed 1427 bills and resolutions they hope to be heard and decided during the 2021 legislative session. As residents of Texas, we can likely expect to see legislation and debates around local government authority, elections, police reform, property taxes, and marijuana legalization among many other issues.

There is no doubt, this session will be one to watch.

Here are a few resources to learn more about the 87th Texas Legislative Session and to follow goings-on at the Capitol:

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

green dollar sign

November is National Scholarship Month, a time to raise awareness of scholarship opportunities for current and future college students. We recommend that this fall, you take some time to search for scholarship opportunities. Keep a running list of opportunities of interest for which you are eligible, noting submission deadlines. There’s no magic date by which to apply for scholarships; each scholarship has its own unique deadline. Below are a few ways to find scholarship opportunities.

When applying for scholarships, it’s important to . . .

  • make sure you always read and carefully follow instructions. Scholarships can be very competitive. Reviewers often shrink the applicant pool by tossing out those applications that lack all the required documents or that indicate the applicant did not follow instructions.
  • track deadlines and do not wait until the last minute to complete an application. Many scholarships require an essay and you do not want to hastily throw something together. Allow time for editing and ideally, you should allow time for someone else to read and edit your essay too.
  • identify and talk to potential recommenders in advance. Many scholarships require letters of recommendation. Make sure you ask recommenders ahead of time and give them information about you, details about the scholarship, and instructions for submitting the recommendation letter. Consider asking more recommenders than you actually need, just in case.
  • tell your story. Make your application compelling by describing your career aspirations and interests. It’s important to construct a narrative that is well-written, free of grammatical and spelling errors, and that adequately addresses the prompt or question.

And finally, be sure to complete or update your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form every year, to receive federal student aid. Remember, even if you choose to decline federal student loans, you can only participate in the Federal Work-Study program and receive federal grants, such as the need-based Pell Grant, by completing the FAFSA.

Posted by & filed under Guest Posts, Hot Docs, Keeping Tabs, Special Days.


Protest against SB 6, the Texas "bathroom bill"

The U.S. federal government response in recent years to matters related to transgender rights has skewed against recognition, dignity, and equality. 2016 started with an onslaught of proposed legislation and public policy measures aimed at negating the basic civil rights of transgender individuals in the United States. These developments have endangered both the physical health and mental well-being of the transgender community. Most notably the “bathroom bills,” which became headline news for months, inspired anger from the right and outrage from the left. However, in 2020, a landmark case emerged, Bostock v. Clayton County, in which the Supreme Court held that Title XII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects employees from discrimination based on gender identity (as well as sexual orientation). Given this case, as well as transgender military personnel recently receiving invitations to have a voice in military policy that directly affect them by providing testimony before the House of Representatives, the next four years appear to hold a promise of a better future for the transgender community in relation to the government. 

Below is a bibliography of titles, separated by subject, from the UNT Libraries, both from the catalog and from our Digital Libraries Government Documents collection that highlight public policy affecting transgender individuals from 2016–2020. 

Education  

    • This document covers the U.S. Dept. of Education efforts to protect transgender students.  
    • This report reviews whether Title IX, which prohibits discrimination “on the basis of sex” in federally funded education programs or activities, reaches claims raised by transgender students. 

Employment 

  • The Equality Act (H.R. 5): Ensuring the Right to Learn and Work Free from Discrimination: Hearing before the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives, One Hundred Sixteenth Congress, First Session, Hearing Held in Washington, D.C. (2019). Available from https://discover.library.unt.edu/catalog/b6376452 
    • Transcripts from a legislative hearing on the Equality Act to guarantee and expand civil rights protections for transgender (and LGBQ+) Americans, pros and cons presented in testimony.  

Housing 

    • Page 12 of this report notes that the Fair Housing Act does not expressly protect individuals from discrimination based on gender identity (or sexual orientation); further, it notes the challenges faced by transgender individuals’ ability to gain access to single-sex shelters in accordance with their gender identity.  

Military Service  

    • Page 16 of this report, “Table 2. Who Is Required to Register for the Selective Service?” indicates that, “Individuals who are born female and changed their gender to male,” are not required to register for selective service, yet, those “who are born male and change their gender to female,” are required to register for selective service.    
    • This is a handbook to aid transgender Service members with their transition, assist commanders with rules and regulations, and teach Service members of policies. 
    • Page 37–40 of this report has a section focused on “Transgender Service” highlighting some of the 2016/2017 policies affecting “transgender recruits.” 
    • This memorandum to the President recommends that the DOD adopt policies disqualifying “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria” and those “who require or have undergone gender transition” from military service. Further, “transgender persons without a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria, who are otherwise qualified for service, may serve, like all other Service members, in their biological sex,” because, “by its very nature, military service requires sacrifice.” 
    • This report provides an overview of policies affecting transgender servicemembers in 2016/2017, cost of care for those servicemembers, and includes links to some existing research on these concerns.  
    • This report discusses the controversy regarding transgender individuals serving in the military, President Trump’s memoranda on the subject, and the four lawsuits challenging the President’s memorandums.  

Additional Resources

More information on the above topics can be found in the following databases: 

    • Provides access to information from over 350 public policy think tanks, nongovernmental organizations, research institutes, university centers, advocacy groups, and other entities.  
    • The Congressional Research Service (CRS) works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation. As a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, CRS has been a valued and respected resource on Capitol Hill for more than a century. CRS is well-known for analysis that is authoritative, confidential, objective and nonpartisan.  

 

Article by Julie Leuzinger, with contributions from Coby Condrey and Clark Pomerleau.

Photo of opponents of Texas “bathroom bill” (SB 6) protesting at the state Capitol in Austin by Eric Gay/Associated Press. From “Go all out to Go All In for Advocacy,” by Tammy Nash, in Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 33, No. 45, Ed. 1 Friday, March 17, 2017. University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections

Posted by & filed under Recommendations, Special Days.

 

First Landing of Columbus on the Shores of the New World, published in 1892, the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ 1492 landing at San Salvador. Source: Library of Congress

 

The second Monday of October traditionally marks the celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in America. This tradition, however, is a fairly new one, and it isn’t officially recognized nationwide by that name.

 

Most Americans recognize the October 12 federal holiday as Columbus Day. This day marks the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s landfall in 1492 on what is now known as the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas. The 400th anniversary of this landing became a one-time national holiday in 1892, when President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed it in an effort to calm diplomatic tensions with Italy, following a mass lynching of Italian-Americans in New Orleans. The campaign to establish Columbus Day as an annual holiday continued into the 20th century, and in 1968 it finally became an official U.S. federal holiday.

 

While Columbus Day had developed as a reaction to ethnic discrimination, the story of Christopher Columbus himself was problematic. He had not been just an explorer; he had been a brutal colonizer. Modern historians have brought to light accounts of enslavement, torture, sexual violence, and murder of native people, all conducted under Columbus’s rule as the governor of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Additional mass deaths had resulted from unlivable conditions on slave ships, famine, and communicable diseases such as smallpox. By 1506 — just 14 years after his arrival — the native population of the island had been reduced to one-third of its original numbers. Columbus is considered by many to have set in motion a centuries-long pattern of genocide of indigenous populations in the Western Hemisphere.

 

In the late 20th century, there began a movement to replace Columbus Day with a holiday celebrating the resiliency and survival of Native American people. South Dakota was the first U.S. state to establish such a holiday, called Native American Day, in 1989. In 1992, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s landing, the city of Berkeley, California established the first Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Since then, numerous American cities and some states have adopted the holiday. Some locations observe both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

 

One way to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day is to take time to learn about the lives and cultures of indigenous people in North America throughout the last few centuries. The UNT Libraries’ Government Documents Collection is a treasure trove of historical resources for that purpose. We’ve included here a list of recommendations from our staff.

 

Indian Reading Series

Issued by the U.S. Department of Education in the 1970s and 1980’s, this is a collection of culturally relevant stories written by Native American authors and illustrated by Native American artists. The booklets are designed for school-aged children, as educational resources for reading and language development. The stories were authenticated by participating Native American tribes and field-tested with over 1200 schoolchildren, both Native and non-Native.

 

Browse the whole Indian Reading Series collection online

For access to print editions, please contact us at govinfo@unt.edu.

 

The Problem of Indian Administration (a.k.a. The Meriam Report)

Published in 1928, this report provides an overview of the governmental and religious bureaucracies that impacted the lives of Native Americans in the U.S. after the Indian Wars. Data for the report was collected by field work in 95 different jurisdictions, including reservations, Indian agencies, hospitals, schools, and communities where Native Americans had migrated.

Topics include health, living conditions, causes of poverty, compulsory boarding schools, missionary activities, and the work of the government. The authors of the report provide detailed recommendations for managing economic and social conditions within those jurisdictions.

 

Browse the full Meriam report online or request the print copy

 

Handbook of North American Indians

This is a 20 volume encyclopedia; to date, 15 volumes have been issued by the Smithsonian Institution. When completed, the Handbook will give an encyclopedic summary of what is known about the prehistory, history, and cultures of the aboriginal peoples of North America who lived north of the urban civilizations of central Mexico. Each volume in this set is independent of the other volumes and contains separate chapters on all the tribes within a geographic area.

Most of the contributing authors of this series are scholars, anthropologists, and historians; but the articles are written for the general public, as well as for teachers, students, and researchers.

This set is best known for its striking historical portraits (painted and photographed) of indigenous people, many in traditional dress.

 

The volumes are not available online, but print copies are available upon request at the Libraries. For access, please contact us at govinfo@unt.edu. Our catalog record provides some information about the individual volumes.

 

Bulletins and Annual Reports of the Bureau of American Ethnology

The Bulletin of the Bureau of Ethnology (later called the Bureau of American Ethnology) is a series that began in 1887 and continued through 1971. Each bulletin documents specific aspects of indigenous American history, culture, and language. Notable topics include (but are not restricted to) archeology, art, mythology, music and dance, linguistics, and contemporary culture in the early-to-mid 20th century.

The Annual Reports of the Bureau cover similar topics but also include administrative or political topics such as frontier wars, reservations, land cessions, and boundaries. Later reports focus more heavily on archeological research.

 

Bulletins no. 1–24 from the Bureau of Ethnology and the Bulletins 25–200 from the Bureau of American Ethnology are available online from the Biodiversity Heritage Library Web site.

Annual Reports for the years 1879 to 1894 from the Bureau of Ethnology and Annual Reports for the years 1895 to 1964 from the Bureau of American Ethnology are also available online from the Biodiversity Heritage Library Web site.

For access to print editions of the Bulletins or Annual Reports, please contact us at govinfo@unt.edu.

   

 

Article written by Betty Monterroso, with contributions from Bobby Griffith.

Posted by & filed under Get Help, Local Doings.

picture of Gateway Center

The official Election Day is Tuesday, November 3 this year, but UNT students, faculty, and staff who live in Denton County will have an opportunity to beat the crowds and vote early in the 2020 General Election without even leaving the Denton campus. Other voters from the community who are registered in Denton County will also be allowed to vote early on the UNT Denton campus.

Time and Place

From Tuesday, October 13 to Friday, October 30, the University of North Texas, in cooperation with the Denton County Elections Administration, will host an early voting location at the UNT Gateway Center, located at 801 North Texas Blvd. in Denton, rooms 43/47. Visitors can park on campus for a fee.

The Gateway Center voting area will be open at the following times:  

Tuesday–Saturday October 13-17 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday October 18 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Monday-Saturday October 19-24 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday October 25 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Monday-Friday October 26-30 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

All days, times, and locations for early voting in Denton County can be seen in a printable Denton County Early Voting guide. (Note that registered Denton County residents may vote at any of these locations during the early voting period, but on November 3 you can only vote at the location designated for your precinct.)

Candidates and Issues

A Voter’s Guide from the League of Women Voters of Denton is available to help you become a more responsible voter by learning about the candidates and issues being voted on.

You can get a sample ballot by entering your identifying information in the Denton County Voter Lookup database.

Are You Registered to Vote?

To find out if you are registered in Denton County, go to the Denton County Voter Lookup database.

To find out if you are registered in Texas, go to the Secretary of State’s Vote Texas site.

If you are registered in another Texas county you cannot vote in Denton County, but you can request a mail-in ballot from your home county election administration if you are not going to be in the area during the voting period.

If you think you should be registered, but don’t know for sure or have questions, contact the Texas Secretary of State at 1-800-252-VOTE.

Don’t Forget Your ID

In 2011 the Texas Legislature passed a Texas Voter ID Law that required certain specific forms of identification in order to vote in a Texas election.

On August 10, 2016, a federal district court entered an order that partially ruled against the constitutionality of this law. The court order relaxed the voter identification requirements for all elections held in Texas after August 10, 2016 until further notice.

These are the acceptable forms of photo ID:

With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, the photo ID must be current or have expired no more than four years ago.

If you don’t have one of these forms of ID, you may fill out a Reasonable Impediment Declaration at the polling place and present it with one of the following forms of ID:

  • Certified birth certificate (must be an original)
  • Current utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Government check
  • Paycheck
  • Any government document with your name and an address (original required if it contains a photograph)

Do You Want to Know More?

Visit the UNT Libraries’ Voting and Civic Engagement guide for a variety of useful resources.

Information about voter registration, voting rights, special needs, and other issues related to voting in Texas is available at the Texas Secretary of State’s VoteTexas.gov page.

Learn more about the upcoming elections at the Denton County Elections Administration Web site and the Texas Elections Division website.

Email govinfo@unt.edu if you have any questions.

original post by Bobby Griffith, updated by Jennifer Rowe

Photo of UNT Gateway Center by UNT/URCM Photography.

Posted by & filed under Local Doings, Special Days.

"The Constitution," mural by Barry Faulkner

During the hot, muggy summer of 1787, a Grand Convention was called together at the Pennsylvania State House (now called Independence Hall) in Philadelphia for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation, which had proved a highly unsatisfactory document for holding the United States together during the first 13 years of the young nation’s existence. While waiting for enough delegates to arrive to make a quorum, James Madison took the initiative of drawing up an initial proposal to get the discussion going: the so-called Virginia Plan.


Benjamin Fraklin in a local pub

The delegates had a complex, delicate task ahead, and precautions were taken to insure secrecy so that everyone would be able to speak his mind honestly and change his mind freely as discussions progressed. Heavy curtains were drawn, and windows were nailed shut. The notoriously bibulous and garrulous Benjamin Franklin was accompanied during public excursions by chaperones charged with making sure he wouldn’t inadvertently reveal too much. James Madison took extensive notes of the debates. Over the next four months the delegates sweated, argued, and struggled with the task of devising a system of government adequate to meet the needs of a new nation. They didn’t just revise the Articles of Confederation; rather, they produced an entirely new document from scratch, perhaps overstepping the bounds of their original mandate.


James Madision, Father of the Constitution

On September 17, 1787 the final draft of the Constitution of the United States was signed by 39 of the 55 delegates. The document was then sent to the states for ratification while James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay campaigned for acceptance of the new constitution in a series of articles and essays that were eventually compiled and published under the title The Federalist. Their arguments—plus the promise of a Bill of Rights enumerating certain personal freedoms not explicitly provided for in the Constitution—proved persuasive, and the new Constitution went into effect on June 21, 1788, after New Hampshire had become the ninth state to ratify it.


First page of the Constitution of the United States

In commemoration of these momentous events, Congress has designated September 17 as Constitution Day. All schools that receive federal funds have been charged with providing educational programming related to the Constitution on or near September 17.

Constitution Day 2020 at UNT

Join us for Constitution Day 2020, 100 years after the passage of the 19th amendment, for an informative remembrance of the 1920 amendment to the Constitution granting women the right to vote. Tune in, virtually, as our three guest speakers discuss the suffrage movement, consider the impact of the women’s vote in U.S. politics, and reflect on the future of women in politics.

Guest Speakers:

Pre-registration is required, so reserve your seat in the live-stream at bit.ly/UNTCONDAY2020.




Article by Bobby Griffith.

Photos of the U.S. Constitution and Barry Faulkner mural from National Archives and Records Administration.

Benjamin Franklin cartoon from NT Daily (September 17, 1987).

Photo of James Madison quote from the Library of Congress James Madison Memorial Building in Washington, DC.

Posted by & filed under Special Days.

19th Amendment exhibit at the Eagle Commons Library.

One hundred years ago today, at 8:00 a.m. on August 26, 1920, without fanfare, in the privacy of his own home and unseen by the press or the public, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby formally certified Tennessee’s ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, bringing to a culmination a 72-year, non-violent campaign to acknowledge women’s right to vote.

The language was simple:

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.  Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Earlier Attempts at Woman Suffrage

Today it is difficult to comprehend a world where it’s considered perfectly normal for people to own other people, while the concept of women voting is considered the height of absurdity, but for decades even the staunchest advocates for women’s rights often disagreed on whether it was appropriate for women to demand the right to vote.

On March 31, 1776, as her husband John was in Philadelphia arguing the cause of American independence from Great Britain, Abigail Adams sent him the following forward-thinking suggestion:


“…and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors.… If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”


Although John Adams often depended on his wife’s wise counsel, this time his response was shortsighted and frivolous:


“As to your extraordinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh.… Depend upon it, We know better than to repeal our Masculine systems. Altho they are in full Force, you know they are little more than Theory…, and in Practice you know We are the subjects. We have only the Name of Masters, and rather than give up this, which would compleatly subject Us to the Despotism of the Peticoat, I hope General Washington, and all our brave Heroes would fight.”


American women continued to have no right to vote even after African-Americans were emancipated from slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment and guaranteed full citizenship and equal protection by the Fourteenth Amendment, which in 1868 introduced the word “male” into the Constitution—for the first time, and in connection with voting rights—arousing the ire of Susan B. Anthony, among others.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

In 1869, Anthony and her long-time friend and collaborator Elizabeth Cady Stanton split from the American Equal Rights Association over support of the Fifteenth Amendment, which would prohibit denial of suffrage based on race, and co-founded the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), which worked for women’s suffrage, divorce reform, and equal pay for women. Although they both supported universal suffrage, and Stanton had in fact included it in her Declaration of Sentiments introduced at the 1948 Seneca Falls Convention, which is often held to be the place where the women’s rights and women’s suffrage movements officially began in the United States, both opposed ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment because it failed to recognize women as citizens with voting rights.

In 1871, the iconoclastic Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to address a congressional committee, arguing before the House Judiciary Committee that women already had the right to vote because that right was guaranteed to all citizens by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments. The chairman objected, “Madam, you are no citizen—you are a woman!” and the committee tabled her request. Still, her speech attracted so many suffragists and reporters that, in one reporter’s words, “Washington became one grand conversational salon.”

Victoria Woodhull

In 1872, after ratification of the Fifteenth amendment, Anthony was arrested for voting illegally. She fought the charges unsuccessfully and was fined $100—a debt she refused to pay. Because the judge declined to sentence her to prison time, she lost her right to file an appeal, which would have allowed the suffrage movement to take the question of women’s voting rights to the Supreme Court.

From 1892 to 1900, Susan B. Anthony served as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (created by a merger of the NWSA with the competing American Woman Suffrage Association). In this role she canvassed the county giving speeches, gathering petition signatures, and lobbying Congress in support of women’s suffrage.

Sadly, neither Anthony nor Stanton saw the culmination of all their hard work, although they never lost faith that their vision would eventually come to pass. In 1902 the now elderly Susan B. made these remarks about the matter:


“If I could live another century! I do so want to see the fruition of the work for women in the past century. There is so much yet to be done, I see so many things I would like to do and say, but I must leave it for the younger generation. We old fighters have prepared the way, and it is easier than it was fifty years ago when I first got into the harness. The young blood, fresh with enthusiasm and with all the enlightenment of the twentieth century, must carry on the work.”


A New Generation

Carrie Chapman Catt was one of the members of that “younger generation.” A schoolteacher and newspaper editor, Catt took over leadership of the NWSA after Susan B. Anthony retired in 1900. Catt developed the NWSA’s “Winning Plan,” a conservative, incremental approach to women’s suffrage that focused on winning voting rights in at least 36 states, the number needed to ratify a federal amendment.

Carrie Chapman Catt   Alice Paul

Alice Paul represented a more militant approach. After earning her master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania, Paul had moved to London to continue her studies and there joined the Women’s Social and Political Union (WPSU), a militant British suffrage organization led by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel. From them Paul learned tactics and techniques of direct action such as organizing huge marches, staging extravagant, theatrical demonstrations, and using acts of disruption and civil disobedience to draw attention to her cause. This unbridled approach worked brilliantly at drawing attention to the movement, but it did not please the more conservative Catt, and the two leaders often clashed. Alice Paul and her co-suffragists also often clashed with the police.

Inez Milholland

On March 3, 1913—one day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration—the Women’s Suffrage Parade, organized by Alice Paul, took place in Washington, D.C. Inez Milholland—a suffragist, labor lawyer, and socialist who worked for prison reform, peace, and equality for African-Americans—led the parade wearing a white cape and seated on a white horse. Milholland campaigned unceasingly despite deteriorating health, and at the age of 30 collapsed in public uttering the words “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” then died in a hospital shortly thereafter. She was convinced that women’s unique traits qualified them to become “housecleaners for the nation” whose votes could help alleviate social evils such as crowded tenements, sweatshops, poverty, hunger, prostitution, and child mortality. Today many of these conditions still exist, as do voter suppression, unequal pay, and many other violations of the most basic human rights.

In January 1917 a group of women organized by Alice Paul became the first group to ever protest outside the White House. Known as the Silent Sentinels, they picketed several hours a day, six days a week, for almost two and a half years, never speaking a word, but silently urging President Wilson with their signs to support a suffrage amendment. Many of them were beaten, arrested, and jailed. They would continue their protests in jail by staging hunger strikes, which often resulted in more beatings and being force fed through a tube stuck up the nose. The resulting public outrage and outcry over their treatment is often credited with turning the tide toward support of women’s suffrage, and on June 4, 1919, Congress passed a joint resolution proposing a Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

Silent Sentinels

By the middle of 1920, 35 of the required 36 states had voted to ratify the amendment, four other states (Connecticut, Vermont, North Carolina and Florida) declined to put it to a vote, and all the other states except Tennessee had rejected it outright. The deciding vote therefore came down to the Tennessee state legislature, and that vote now stood at a tie, with a single vote remaining.

Harry T. Burn

At the tender age of 24, Tennessee state representative Harry T. Burn from the McMinn County district suddenly found himself facing the responsibility of casting the deciding vote to ratify or reject the Nineteenth Amendment at the Tennessee General Assembly in 1920. The red rose on his lapel, as well as his past “nay” votes on the issue, confirmed his anti-suffragist position. He had already voted in favor of tabling the amendment, but that vote had also ended in a tie and did not carry. What the public did not see, however, as he stood up to declare his vote was a seven-page handwritten letter from his mother, Phoebe Ensminger Burn (known to her friends and family as “Febb”), urging him to “be a good boy” and “help Mrs. ‘Thomas Catt’ with her ‘Rats.’” (“Is she the one that put rat in ratification,” she further teased.) Along with the letter, Burn had hidden a yellow suffragist rose inside his jacket pocket. It was a history-making change of heart as Burn’s “aye” unexpectedly reverberated in the Senate chamber.

Letter from Febb Burn

Fourteen years after Susan B. Anthony’s death, the act named after her was ratified as the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Though she did not live to see the results of her life’s work, Susan B. had played a crucial role in securing female suffrage at the national level.

On February 15, 1921 (Susan B. Anthony’s birthday), sculptor Adelaide Johnson’s monumental statue “The Women’s Movement” was unveiled in the Capitol Rotunda. The monument contains portraits of Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Elisabeth Cady Stanton, copied from busts the artist had sculpted earlier when the subjects were still alive. In this monument, they arise out of a block of rough-hewn Carrara marble—a symbol of the unfinished struggle for women’s rights—and a vague, abstract shape rises behind the three women to represent all the other women who might continue their fight.

Portrait Monument

In 1979, the U.S. Treasury minted the Susan B. Anthony dollar, making her the first female to be represented on U.S. currency.

Susan B. Anthony silver dollar

Unfinished Business

Passage of the Nineteenth Amendment did not automatically secure the right to vote for all American women:

  • Native American women were not considered U.S. citizens—except under certain special circumstances, such as being married to a white man—and therefore could not vote.
  • African-Americans were prevented from voting by poll taxes, literacy tests, threats of violence, and other tools of voter suppression.
  • Discriminatory immigration laws prevented many Chinese women (the Page Act) or Chinese men and women (the Chinese Exclusion Act) from becoming U.S. citizens, and in 1924 the Johnson-Reed Act excluded all Asians from immigrating to the U.S.
  • The 1907 Expatriation Act declared that female U.S. citizens who married non-citizens were no longer Americans.

  • Pioneers such as Mabel Ping-Hua Lee and Zitkala-Ša help pave the way for many of these women to win the right to vote years—sometimes decades—after the Nineteen Amendment was passed, and some still fight today against laws that discriminate against women and minorities, such as felony disenfranchisement laws and voter I.D. laws.

    Mabel Ping-Hua Lee   Zitkala-Ša

    On Valentine’s Day 1920, six months before the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, Carrie Chapman Catt founded the League of Women Voters, a non-partisan, non-sectarian organization aimed at educating voters on political issues.

    After helping to secure women’s suffrage, Alice Paul penned the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) with Crystal Eastman in 1923. While middle-class women were largely supportive of this amendment, working-class women pointed out that passage could result in losing certain protections regarding working conditions and hours of employment. Like the Nineteenth Amendment, this one was short and succinct. (It was also misspelled.)

    Equal Rights Amendment

    The ERA was reintroduced in the early 1970s, but as of 2020—nearly a century after it was introduced—it has not been ratified.

    One hundred years after women won the right to vote, the battle for equality is still not over. We hope you have been inspired by this story and will consider how you can continue the fight for the rights of women and other oppressed people in your own neighborhood and throughout the world. What part will you play? As you join the fight for liberty, justice, and equality, let these words from Henry Alford’s hymn “Forward Be Our Watchword”—carried on a banner by Inez Milholland at her first suffrage parade, then later displayed during her memorial—serve as inspiration:

    Forward, out of error,
    Leave behind the night;
    Forward through the darkness,
    Forward into light!

    Woman holding banner at Inez Milholland memorial.



    Author: Bobby Griffith

    Image credits:

    Photo of Eagle Commons Library Woman Suffrage exhibit by Bobby Griffith.

    Portrait of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, c.1880, from 19C American Women in a New Nation.

    Photo of Victoria Woodhull courtesy of Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Susan B. Anthony silver dollar, Heritage Auctions Lot 1449, 29 April 2010.

    Photo of Carrie Chapman Catt, courtesy of Library of Congress Manuscript Division, available under the digital ID mnwp.149004.

    Photo of Alice Paul courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

    Photo of Silent Sentinels courtesy of Library of Congress American Memory Collection.

    Photo of Inez Milholland courtesy of George Grantham Bain Collection, Libary of Congress, Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsc-00031.

    Photo of Harry T. Burn courtesy of Tennessee Virtual Archive.

    Photo of letter from Febb Burn courtesy of Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection, Knox County Public Library.

    Portrait of Mabel Ping-Hua Lee (1896–1966). New-York Endowment Tribune, April 13, 1912. Chronicling America, National for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.

    Photo of Zitkala-Ša by Gertrude Kasebier, courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.

    Photo of woman holding banner in memory of Inez Milholland, uploaded from Shorpy.com, a photo-blog site specializing in vintage photography. Source url: 5414.

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