The Right to Vote: A Yearlong Consideration

The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. — Amendment XV

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex. — Amendment XIX

The year 2020 marks the anniversary of two amendments to the US Constitution that expanded the nation’s ideas about citizenship and extended the right to vote to African American men and to women. To commemorate the ratifications of the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) and the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) to the US Constitution, the Cleveland State University History Department and the Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio will host a yearlong program on the theme “The Right to Vote: The 15th and 19th Amendments.” The program will offer professional development for 20-25 Ohio K-12 educators through a fall institute, a follow-up workshop and symposium, and several presentations by humanities experts for the general public. Cleveland is particularly relevant to an examination of suffrage as the site of several African American conventions before the 15th Amendment, a national woman’s rights convention in 1853, and the founding meeting of the American Woman’s Suffrage Association in 1869. The programming will be particularly relevant in light of the record number of women elected to the US Congress in 2018, historical and contemporary controversies over voter identification laws, gerrymandering, and allegations of voter suppression, and questions of birthright citizenship.

Programming for Teachers

During the course of the funding period, the program will offer the following for Ohio teachers to earn up to two graduate credits for participation in the Fall Institute, a Primary Source and Digital Workshop, and a Film Discussion (1 credit hour) and participation in a daylong Teaching Symposium and academic conference in October 2020 at CSU (1 credit hour).

Fall Institute: The Right to Vote: The 15th and 19th Amendments.
November 22, 2019
ESC of Northeast Ohio, 6393 Oak Tree Blvd.
Independence, OH 44131.

The program begins on 22 November 2019 with a one-day teacher institute for in-service K-12 teachers throughout Ohio. The workshop will feature two humanities content experts. In the morning, Dr. Stephanie Hinnershitz will provide an overview of voting rights in the United States. Dr. Robert Shelton will discuss the passage and ratification of the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments and efforts to curtail their effects. These content sessions align with various parts of the Ohio Department of Education standards. In the afternoon, Dr. Shelley Rose, a humanities expert on gender and protest and the director of the CSU Social Studies program, will focus on using documentbased questions and historical and critical thinking in the classroom using Sam Wineburg’s Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts. Master teacher Emily Marty will help teachers implement the content and pedagogical theory into practical classroom activities. The institute will provide one graduate credit for attendance and completion of all assignments.

Workshop on Digital Tools and Primary Documents
19 February 2020
Cleveland State University

On 19 February 2020, program organizers will offer an evening and (using the Zoom communications tool) web accessible workshop at Cleveland State University on creating digital exhibits using primary documents. Humanities experts Drs. Rose, Shelton, Stephanie Hinnershitz, and Corrine Porter of the National Archives and Records Administration will lead a workshop that will, tentatively, focus on three historically significant conventions held in Cleveland: The 1853 National Women’s Rights Convention, the 1854 Emigration Convention of Colored Americans, and the 1869 founding convention of the American Woman Suffrage Association, one of the two major suffrage organizations from 1869 to 1890. Digital tools covered in the workshop will include StoryMaps and Timeline tools at the Knight Lab at Northwestern University. Teachers also will have the opportunity to locate and work with primary sources to use in the classroom. Attendance and participation is required for teachers seeking graduate credit hour 1.

Documentary Film Discussion
19 March 2020
Cleveland State University

Andrea DeKoter, a National Park Service historian who served as an interpreter at the Seneca Falls National Historic Site in New York will lead a discussion following the showing of a film on the women’s suffrage movement. Attendance is required for teachers seeking graduate credit hour 1.

Symposium on Teaching: Suffrage and Citizenship
10 October 2020
Cleveland State University

On October 10, 2020, teachers will have the opportunity to participate in a symposium on Teaching Suffrage. The symposium will feature panels expressly for teachers to make 15- to 20-minute presentations on how they used the material, pedagogy, and tools covered at the 2019 institute and the February 2020 workshop. The symposium will also feature a keynote address by historian Dr. Lisa Tetrault of Carnegie Mellon University. Attendance and participation is required for teachers seeking graduate credit hour 2.

Votes for All?: The 15th and 19th Amendments
8-10 October 2020
Cleveland State University

In conjunction with the Teacher Symposium, the Department of History, Black Studies, and Women and Gender Studies at Cleveland State will sponsor a conference geared toward academics and the general public titled Votes for All?: Suffrage and the 15th and 19th Amendments in October 2020. The interdisciplinary conference will feature panel presentations by professional academics, graduate and undergraduate students, and independent scholars. Dr. Lisa Tetrault of Carnegie-Mellon University will be the keynote speaker for both the Teacher Symposium and the conference. We seek funding from the OHC to pay Dr. Tetrault’s speaking fee and travel expenses.

Sponsored by Cleveland State University, the Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio, and Ohio Humanities.

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The Right to Vote: The 15th and 19th Amendments by Dr. Stephanie D. Hinnershitz, Dr. Shelley Rose, and Dr. Robert S. Shelton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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