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Help Preserve Women’s History at These Sites Across the United States

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The Strand Theatre in Rawlins, Wyoming, was built in 1919—half a century after Wyoming became the first state to grant women the right to vote in 1869.

Courtesy of Rawlins DDA/Main Street

The Strand Theatre in Rawlins, Wyoming, was built in 1919—half a century after Wyoming became the first state to grant women the right to vote in 1869.

This year, an annual campaign to restore U.S. landmarks will focus on local community buildings and sites that celebrate the contributions of women.

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The 100th anniversary of U.S. women’s suffrage is on the horizon. (ICYMI: In August 1920, the ratification of the 19th Amendment granted women in the United States the constitutional right to vote.) To honor the upcoming centennial, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that their annual Partners in Preservation campaign, which works to engage the public in preserving important U.S. landmarks, will focus this year on locations across the country that celebrate contributions made by women in local communities.

Throughout the campaign, the public is invited to vote from a selection of 20 U.S. sites where women helped shape history—among them the Denver home of Dr. Justina Ford, Colorado’s first female African American doctor; the Alabama courthouse made famous in To Kill a Mockingbird by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author Harper Lee; and the Iowa building where the country’s first female lawyer, Belle Babb Mansfield, passed the bar examination in 1869.

After Belle Babb Mansfield passed an 1869 bar examination at the Union Block building in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, she went on to become the country’s first female lawyer and played an active role in the women’s suffrage movement.

Anyone can head to VoteY0urMainStreet.Org to help decide which of the 20 U.S. site(s) will receive a share of the winning prize: $2 million in preservation funding from American Express. Through October 29, 2019, individuals can cast up to five votes per day for the “Main Street projects” of their choice.

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Winners will be announced on October 30, after which the grant money will be distributed among the sites with the highest number of votes. (Don’t worry, no site will be left in the dust: All local partners participating in the campaign will receive an initial grant of $10,000 to support and increase public awareness for the site and Main Street district.) 

The Ladies’ Literary Club (LLC) in Salt Lake City, Utah, the oldest women’s club west of the Mississippi River. It was established in 1877, much before academic opportunities were readily available to women.

Over the past 13 years, Partners in Preservation has provided more than $28 million in support of 260 historic sites across the U.S., including 20 national parks, 14 cities, and 12 small communities. In a statement about this year’s female-forward focus, Katherine Malone-France, chief preservation officer at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said:

“You cannot tell the full story of America without including the many incredible contributions women have made to our country’s history. By highlighting historic places on main streets across America that are telling the stories of women, we hope to not only preserve these sites, but also amplify the women who have made our main streets what they are today.”

Head to VoteY0urMainStreet.Org and cast your vote(s) before October 29, 2019.

>> Next: On a Road Trip Through Wyoming, Celebrate a Legacy of Women’s Voting Rights

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