It’s been less than a century since women in America gained the right to vote. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified 96 years ago on August 18, 1920 — and there are still women alive today who were born before that day.
Now some of those women have the chance to vote for the first woman president. The website IWaited96Years.com has been collecting photos and stories of these women, and it’s a moving testament to the progress women’s rights have made in this country in fewer than a hundred years.
Estelle Liebow Schultz, 98, writes that she is in home hospice care after being diagnosed with a serious heart condition. “I decided that I would like to live long enough to see the election of our first woman president,” she says. “To see such an accomplishment in my lifetime is momentous. I encourage all of my fellow nonagenarians to follow me in marking your ballot with a sense of pride in a life long lived and a country making history."
There are stories from women like Echo Garvin Rider, 97, who still lives on her father’s Cherokee homestead and painted airplanes and ships during World War II.
Gladys Cornelius, 99, has 21 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, and hopes to witness two historic presidencies: “I am blessed to be here to vote in another election, happy that I was fortunate to see a black man and now a woman," she writes.
Katherine Blood Hoffman, 102, a former chemistry professor who fought for women’s rights as the dean of women at Florida State University, tells a remarkable and sad story about her experience with gender inequality: “This election means that women can achieve anything,” she writes. “In 1937 I was accepted into the medical school at Duke University. I decided not to attend because female students were required to sign a pledge stating that they would not marry while in school. The male students did not have to sign and did not have the same restriction. I did not think that this was fair.”
There are plenty of other centenarians: a 102-year-old “baker and knitter extraordinaire,” a 100-year-old daughter of Italian immigrants who was the fifth of 14 children, and a 101-year-old woman who says she actually remembers the moment when women got the right to vote.
Whoever you’re voting for, it’s worth looking through the site and thinking about how far we’ve come — and how far we still have to go.