19th Amendment at 100: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, but this landmark event was neither the beginning nor the end of the story for women and their struggle for the right to vote. Join us in 2020 as we commemorate this centennial year with 12 stories from our holdings for you to save, print, or share. October’s featured image is of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

Upon the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we shared a post about her women’s rights work and her visits to the National Archives, including her trip in 1993 just after being sworn in. This was the inspiration for this month’s calendar image. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg visited the National Archives on August 26, 1993, just 16 days after she was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Acting Archivist of the United States Trudy Peterson made sure to show Justice Ginsburg the original 19th Amendment, which secured women’s right to vote in the Constitution. Justice Ginsburg died on September 17, 2020, after 27 years on the Supreme Court. (Photo from the Records of the National Archives.)

President Bill Clinton nominated Ginsburg to the Supreme Court on June 22, 1993. The Senate overwhelmingly confirmed her nomination on August 3 by a vote of 96–3 and she took her oath of office on August 10. Just a couple weeks later, on August 26, 1993, Women’s Equality Day, Ginsburg visited the National Archives. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg looks at the Mathew Brady collection at the National Archives, August 26, 1993. (Records of the National Archives)

In addition to visiting the Rotunda to see the Charters of Freedom and getting a close up view of historic documents, such as the 19th Amendment, she also visited the Still Pictures branch. For those of you who are familiar with the National Archives, Still Pictures is housed in College Park, MD. But back then it was still the National Archives Building in downtown Washington DC. While here, Ginsburg was shown numerous photos from our collection including the Mathew Brady photographs and the Eva Braun photo albums.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg looks at the Eva Braun albums at the National Archives, August 26, 1993. (Records of the National Archives)

Following her visit, the National Archives featured her nomination to the Supreme Court for the Featured Document Program. It was a series that showcased NARA’s holdings that demonstrate relevance of the records to issues of public concern. Ginsburg was just the second woman to be on the high court in our history and her nomination was certainly as relevant then as it is today. 

Learn more about women’s rights activists in history and the Centennial of the 19th Amendment on our website.

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