100th Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote – February 17

Debra Austin

Arizona historian and women’s history advocate, Dr. Melanie Sturgeon, will headline a scholarship fundraising dinner Feb. 17, bringing alive the stories of the state’s pioneering suffragists.

With 2020 marking the centennial of the 19th Amendment that gave American women voting privileges in 1920, Dr. Sturgeon will be featured at the “Celebrate 100: Women’s Right to Vote” dinner presented by the Southeast Valley Branch of the American Association of University Women. It is open to the public.

The event is set for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the San Tan Ballroom at Cottonwood Country Club, 25630 S. Brentwood Drive in Sun Lakes. Tickets, which are $45 for individuals and $450 for tables of 10, are available by emailing [email protected]

“We are proud to commemorate this historic milestone at an event where we also will be raising money to fund college scholarships for high school girls in need in the Chandler Unified School District,” said Joyce Ellenbecker, president of the Southeast Valley Branch, AAUW. “What a wonderful opportunity to honor groundbreaking women from the past and help smooth the path for young women leaders of the future.”

Dr. Sturgeon’s remarks will detail many players behind the struggle for voting rights for women in Arizona, which became law in 1912 in the state. She will give particular attention to Frances Willard Munds, a suffragist who later became Arizona’s first female state senator.

As president of the Arizona Women’s History Alliance, Dr. Sturgeon is leading efforts to recognize Munds with a statue in Wesley Bolin Plaza near the state Capitol. It will be the first statue on state grounds honoring a woman.

Melanie Sturgeon retired as the State Archivist and Director of the Arizona State Archives in 2016. She has served as president of the Coordinating Committee for History in Arizona, the Southwest Oral History Association and the Council of Inter-Mountain Archivists, and on national and state archivist boards. She was Executive Chair of the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame for 12 years, stepping down in 2018.

With nearly 100 area members, the Southeast Valley Branch of AAUW focuses on the national organization’s mission of advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research.

Membership is open to graduates holding an associate or higher degree from an accredited college or university. Information on the Southeast Valley Branch is available at