As we approach the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment in 2020, it is fitting to reflect on the broad reach of political activism by Iowa women prior to and after ratification. To that end, the University of Iowa is offering two prizes—one to a UI undergraduate student, the other to a UI graduate student—for original essays based on primary source research about the ways in which Iowa women claimed citizenship at various times from the mid-19th century to the late 20th century. We encourage historical essays that pay attention to voices that have been missing from the story of Iowa women’s political activism. For example, what issues drew working class, rural, indigenous, immigrant, Latina, or African American women into the political process, broadly defined? How did women mobilize for and claim citizenship, even when denied access to the ballot? What activism preceded ratification of the 19th amendment? What was the impact of the amendment’s ratification?

Two awards will be given: one for the best undergraduate essay, the other for the best graduate student essay. Each award carries a cash prize of $2500. Essays submitted by undergraduates should be a minimum of 3750 words (approximately 15 pages); graduate student essays should be a minimum of  6250 words (approximately 25 pages). All essays should be double-spaced, in 12-point font.  Any student currently enrolled at the University on the submission date is eligible.

Submit essays as PDF files to:

Essays are due August 26, 2020.  Winners will be announced in September 2020.