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100 years ago: Women head to polls in Gloucester, Mathews

A 1926 yearbook published jointly in 1926 for Achilles and Botetourt high schools shows Marghuerita Harris on the back row, highlighted, wearing a cameo that is still in the family.

In the summer of 1920, Americans prepared for a big change to the customary order of things. The upcoming November election presented women in most states, including Virginia, their first opportunity to vote.

Women’s initial participation in voting was more a gentle stream than a tidal wave, representing 18 percent of Gloucester’s vote and 10 percent of the Mathews total.

The 19th Amendment

Congress in 1919 passed the 19th Amendment guaranteeing the vote to women, and sent it to the states for consideration. A website,, said the effort for the women’s vote started in the mid-19th century provoking “decades of agitation and protest.” Susan B. Anthony was an early leader of the movement and her name was associated with the amendment up to its passage.

The amendment (“The right...

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