Happy International Women’s Day, Rocket City. March 8 is the perfect time to reflect on our city’s history and the women who have shaped it.
In the past few years, the Historic Huntsville Foundation, the Twickenham Town Chapter of the DAR, and the Councill High School Alumni Association have collaborated to create markers highlighting the women’s suffrage movement in Huntsville. Journey with us as we visit these 4 Huntsville spots where women made history.
1. Greene Street YMCA
In 1895, Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Chapman Catt spoke to an eager, overflowing crowd at the Huntsville City Hall. After Anthony finished her speech, Milton Humes stepped on the stage and declared the creation of the Huntsville Equal Suffrage Association (HESA).
The women of HESA were philanthropic, founding the City Infirmary, supporting education and advocating for health and workplace reforms. The marker at Greene Street YMCA commemorates the organization’s reorganizing here in 1912.
2. The former home of Ellelee Humes on McClung Avenue
Women’s suffrage did not pick up steam in Huntsville until 1912. By this year, the movement had finally begun to attract national attention, fueling the Huntsville’s coalition.
Empowered by this traction, HESA members set out to host their meetings at the Greene Street YMCA. However, the YMCA denied their request, claiming that the women’s suffrage movement was too controversial.
That’s where Ellelee Humes, HESA Vice President, stepped in, offering her McClung Avenue home to host the meetings. Under her leadership, HESA ignited the organization of 46 other Alabama suffrage groups, comprising 5,000 total members.
3. Councill High Memorial Park
After the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920, Alabama officials began registering qualified women to vote in the year’s upcoming election.
In just two months, 123,000 women registered to vote. Out of this number, 1,383 were from Madison County, and 6 of these women were Black. The marker at Councill High Memorial Park commemorates Huntsville’s first Black female voters and the doors they opened for women in the years to come.
4. The former home of of Alice Baldridge on Adams Street
Because of suffragists’ lobbying efforts, lawmakers passed a bill in 1915, allowing women to run for office. The year after, 10 women announced their candidacy.
Six female Alabamians won, including Huntsville resident Alice Baldridge who later became Madison County’s first practicing female attorney.
To learn more about these Huntsville spots where women made history, visit the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber.
Bonus: “This Girl Can” mural
And we can’t forget the breathtaking “This Girl Can” mural in downtown Huntsville, created jointly by the Women’s Economic Development Council (WEDC) and Arts Huntsville.
Make sure to stop by and take a look at it—we wouldn’t be where we are today without the sacrifices of the amazing women who have gone before us.
Want to learn more about how to celebrate Women’s History Month? Check out these guides:
- Downtown Huntsville is getting a new historic marker
- Celebrate Women’s History Month at these 11 woman-owned eateries
- Women’s History Month – 5 ways to celebrate in Huntsville
- Happy Women’s History Month—5 actresses you didn’t know were from Huntsville
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