Elaine Weiss is spring MLS chair during centennial kickoff

CATEGORIES: January 2020, Voices
Center to host statewide centennial commemoration of 19th Amendment

Award-winning journalist and writer, Elaine Weiss, will visit Iowa State University on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, as the 32nd recipient of the Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics.

Weiss’ latest book, “The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote,” focuses on a recent history of the ratification of the 19th Amendment debate in Tennessee.

As part of her visit to Iowa State, Weiss will elaborate on and help celebrate the centennial celebration of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, by presenting a talk with the same title as her book, “The Woman’s Hour,” at 1 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union on Iowa State’s central campus. Weiss’s presentation is free and open to the public.

Elaine Weiss;
Photo Credit: Nina Subin

Her magazine feature writing has been recognized with prizes from the Society of Professional Journalists, and her by-line has appeared in The Atlantic, Harper’s, New York Times, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquireras well as reports and documentaries for National Public Radio and Voice of America. She has been a frequent correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor.

Weiss’ long-form writing garnered a Pushcart Prize “Editor’s Choice” award, and she is a MacDowell Colony Fellow. Her first book, “Fruits of Victory: The Woman’s Land Army in the Great War” was excerpted in the Smithsonian Magazine online and featured on C-Span and public radio stations nationwide.

Weiss holds a graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism of Northwestern University. She has worked as a Washington correspondent, congressional aide and speechwriter, magazine editor and university journalism instructor.

She says she votes in every election.

The Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics has sponsored this annual speaker series since the fall of 1996 through the generous support of donors. It was established in 1995 to honor the Iowa native and longtime political and civic leader. Mary Louise Smith – the first woman to chair the Republican National Committee – was a mentor, friend and role model to many in the world of politics and civic, government and community affairs.

The purpose of the chair is to bring nationally known political leaders, scholars and activists to Iowa State to enrich the experiences of students and educate citizens about the role of women in the political process.

Mary Louise Smith
Mary Louise Smith

Weiss’ keynote is tied in with other celebrations of this historical anniversary.

The Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics represents Iowa State University on a statewide coalition that is planning a yearlong celebration of the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

“The Catt Center is honored to join women leaders from across the state to celebrate this historic milestone,” said Karen Kedrowski, director of the Catt Center.

The theme of the year’s events is “Hard Won. Not Done.”

“We chose this slogan to communicate to young people especially that securing women’s right to vote was difficult, and the struggle for full equality continues today,” said former State Representative Doris Kelley, chair of the 19th Amendment Centennial Commemoration Committee.

The Catt Center and Iowa State University will host the statewide kickoff at the Memorial Union on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, which is the centennial of the founding of the national League of Women Voters by Carrie Chapman Catt.

With a Humanities Iowa grant of $11,007, the kickoff will also feature a performance of “The Yellow Rose of Suffrage” by Iowa State University theater professor emerita Jane Cox; a display of suffrage memorabilia; breakout sessions; and performances of suffrage songs and selections from a new musical “The Suffragist.”

The kickoff is free, open to the public, and will promote understanding of women’s suffrage history, including the often-overlooked contributions of African-American, immigrant and working class women. It will also place the suffrage story into the larger context of the expansion of voting rights.

Registration is not required to attend the centennial commemoration events, but the Catt Center requests a general attendance estimate. If you know how many people will be attending in your party, please submit an RSVP here.

Events will continue throughout the 2020 calendar year. They include providing a suffrage wagon for local summer festivals and parades and at the Iowa State Fair; local programming by colleges and universities, public libraries and local historical societies; a performance of “The Suffragist” at the University of Northern Iowa in June; dedications at designated Division I college women’s basketball games; commemorative resolutions passed by state and local governments; art displays; a women’s history calendar distributed by local credit unions; and other special events and activities. The year will culminate with a closing celebration in Coralville hosted by the Iowa Women’s Foundation in October.

Member organizations include the League of Women Voters of Iowa and its local chapters; the AAUW of Iowa; the Iowa Office on the Status of Women; 50-50 in 2020; Women Lead Change; Iowa Women’s Foundation; the National 19th Amendment Society; NOW; the Iowa chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution; NEXUS Women’s Executive Alliance; the University of Iowa; the University of Northern Iowa; Drake University; and Grinnell College.