Though Dr. Lucy Hobbs Taylor was not alive 100 years ago today to witness American women win full voting rights with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, she definitely forged a path to equality for her gender.
By the time she had turned 28 (on her birthday, March 14, 1861, no less!) Dr. Lucy Hobbs had opened a solo dental practice in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In 1866, when Dr. Hobbs earned her dental degree after defying nearly a decade of resistance, her goals aligned with other pioneers for progress.
That same year, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony organized the American Equal Rights Association, with the goal of suffrage for all, regardless of gender or race.
The Fifteenth Amendment banned discrimination on the basis of race or color, but not gender. Image courtesy www.visitthecapitol.gov
A year later in 1867, while working as a dentist in Chicago, Dr. Hobbs married James M. Taylor. She became a supporter of the woman suffrage movement in the two decades that followed. Later she retired from a large dental practice in Lawrence, Kansas that she shared with her husband. (He became a dentist under his wife’s instruction!).
Prior to her death in 1910, the country was closer to offering equality in voting.
Walking the Walk
Each step for progress arrived through sacrifice of pioneers like Dr. Hobbs, people committed to positive change.
A gallery of images above, courtesy of the Library of Congress, documents a few woman suffrage parades and pickets.
The National Women’s History Museum offers a Woman Suffrage Timeline from 1840-1920 here, including these defining moments in 1917:
- National Woman’s Party picketers appear in front of the White House holding two banners, “Mr. President, What Will You Do For Woman Suffrage?” and “How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?”
- Jeannette Rankin of Montana, the first woman elected to Congress, is formally seated in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- Alice Paul, leader of the National Woman’s Party, is put in solitary confinement in the mental ward of a prison to undermine her credibility with the public.
- National Woman’s party picketers are arrested on charges of obstructing sidewalk traffic. Subsequent picketers are sentenced to up to six months in jail. Five months later, the government unconditionally releases the picketers in response to public outcry and an inability to stop National Woman’s Party picketers’ hunger strike.
Forward Into Light
There’s no way to know how Dr. Lucy Hobbs Taylor would have celebrated today’s monumental anniversary, but the Federal Commission Commemorating 100 Years of the 19th Amendment presents an option for all.
Buildings and landmarks across the country will light up in purple and gold tonight, August 26, 2020 as part of the Federal Commission’s nationwide Forward Into Light Campaign. It’s named in honor of the historic suffrage slogan, “Forward through the Darkness, Forward into Light.”
Learn more about this initiative, including lightings in the Capitol City and other city and state tributes across the U.S. here and take a curator-led gallery tour of “Rightfully Hers” at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC at womensvote100.org.
How can you join the celebration?
Visit any of the resources mentioned above to engage, learn and create history in your community.
Explore children’s creativity. Young people in each of the 50 states, and the District of Columbia, shared contributions to showcase individuals, symbols, or events that represent this significant moment in history. Visit the First Lady Melania Trump’s exhibit, Building the Movement: America’s Youth Celebrate 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage here.
Discover a unique opportunity for dentists
Join an initiative in dentistry named as an homage to the first woman in the U.S. to earn a dental degree. The Lucy Hobbs Project, powered by Benco Dental for nearly a decade, empowers women in the profession to drive change and deliver results through networking, innovation and giving back. Meet past recipients of the project’s annual awards and watch here for the announcement of this year’s honorees in the coming month.