State Capitol women’s suffrage exhibit includes Chapman Catt portrait
Press Staff Report
A public art exhibit at the Iowa Capitol celebrates the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote. The display features paintings of prominent women from the suffrage and civil rights movements, including Charles City’s own Carrie Chapman Catt.
Tuesday, July 2, marked the 100th anniversary of Iowa ratifying the 19th Amendment in 1919. The final state required to pass the amendment did so in August 1920, and the amendment took effect on Aug. 26, 1920.
“We are going to spend the next year celebrating that landmark achievement for women,” said Secretary of State Paul Pate. “It was a long hard battle before they were granted the right to vote. I want my three granddaughters and all Iowans to understand that history and see how far we’ve come.”
The first three paintings featured in the state Capitol exhibit portray Iowans Carrie Chapman Catt and Edna Griffin, as well as civil rights pioneer Ida Wells.
Catt, who spent her youth in Charles City and whose girlhood home is now a museum with interpretive center, was one of the national leaders for women’s suffrage, developing and implementing a state-by-state strategy that led to the passage of the 19th Amendment. Catt also founded the League of Women Voters.
Edna Griffin is known as “the Rosa Parks of Iowa.” She successfully fought against racial discrimination at a Des Moines drug store, five years before Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
Ida Wells was an early leader in the civil rights movement and one of the founders of the NAACP.
The paintings were donated by Iowa artist Mary Kline-Misol, who is creating 19 portraits of female pioneers for suffrage and civil rights. Other paintings from her project, “Battle for the Ballot: Selections from the Suffrage Project 2020” are on display at Artisan Gallery 218 in West Des Moines.
The public display is located next to the secretary of state’s Capitol office, under the Iowa Suffrage Memorial that was created in 1936. The exhibit will feature a revolving set of portraits, historical items and tributes to women suffragists.