Pollsters say women voters appear to be playing an out-sized role in the ongoing 2020 U.S. presidential election, according to a news release from Oswego’s Little White School Museum. But before ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, women were denied the vote in the majority of elections in the United States.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of passage of the 19th Amendment, join Oswego’s Little White School Museum at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, for “Casting a Historic Vote: Suffrage in Illinois.” This free virtual presentation, by Illinois Humanities Road Scholars speaker Jeanne Schultz Angel, is sponsored by the Oswegoland Heritage Association in partnership with the Oswegoland Park District. While the program is free, advance registration for the online Zoom lecture is required.

The struggle for women’s enfranchisement began with the birth of the nation and was strategized differently in local, state and federal elections. Despite what people today believe to be a straightforward goal, the path to women’s suffrage was infused with sexism and racism and triggered a fear of feminism whose roots still are seen today. While wealthy women advocates played a vital role in the suffrage movement, they were not the only ones seeking enfranchisement. From attorney Ellen Martin, the first woman to vote in Illinois, to Ida B. Wells, a woman of color who did not let racism stop her voice, women’s suffrage has been a battle hard-fought by a diverse group of activists in Illinois.

The program is suitable for area residents age 16 and older, and space is limited. After registering, participants will receive a Zoom link to access the program.

For more information or to register, call the Oswegoland Park District at 630-554-1010 or the museum at 630-554-2999. One may reference program number 19048, according to the museum.

Signs of the times

Those driving past Oswego’s historic Little White School Museum will note some new signs on the museum grounds.

A large new monument sign has been installed at the intersection of Jackson and Polk streets to alert those driving, cycling or walking by about the museum, and a permanent, weatherproof informational sign has been installed near the museum’s main entrance on Jackson Street. Both signs were funded through the Oswegoland Park District’s museum budget.

“We’ve had a monument sign at Jackson and Polk streets for years,” museum director Roger Matile stated in a release. “But it was getting pretty weathered. And we wanted to add information to the sign letting potential visitors know whether we were open or closed.”

The new informational sign outside the museum’s main entrance will feature announcements about museum programs and activities. Previously, the museum used sandwich-board-style signs that were not weatherproof.

"The new informational sign means we can now have a couple signs up outside during events, one that's permanent and the other we can put out to advertise special, ongoing events to get our messages out," Matile said.

The new signs were purchased from and installed by the Aurora Sign Company. They match the design of other new signage throughout the Park District.

The Little White School Museum, located at 72 Polk St., Oswego, is a joint project of the nonprofit Oswegoland Heritage Association and the Oswegoland Park District. The Heritage Association owns the museum’s collections of more than 30,000 photographs, artifacts and archival letters, papers, maps and other items, and is responsible for the collection’s maintenance, storage and interpretation. The Park District maintains the museum grounds at Heritage Park, and also provides reception desk and management personnel, building utilities and maintenance, scheduling and other services.

The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Those with Oswego history research questions are asked to call the museum at 630-554-2999 or to send an email to info@littlewhiteschoolmuseum.org.

For more information about the museum, visit www.littlewhiteschoolmuseum.org or call 630-554-2999.

Oswego’s historic Little White School Museum, which is sporting new signs aimed at providing more information for visitors, will offer a program celebrating a milestone in the women's suffrage movement.
Oswego’s historic Little White School Museum, which is sporting new signs aimed at providing more information for visitors, will offer a program celebrating a milestone in the women's suffrage movement.