In September 1920, people crowded Liberty Square in Philadelphia to celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment the previous month. After more than seven decades of struggle, American women’s right to vote was finally enshrined in the Constitution—and Katharine Ruschenberger knew exactly how to mark the occasion.
A few years earlier, the suffragists had raised funds for the Justice Bell, an exact replica of the Liberty Bell that toured the nation to promote women’s suffrage. It was time for the bell, which had never been rung, to sing out in celebration. When the moment came, Ruschenberger didn’t give the bell its ceremonial tug. Instead, she passed the rope to her niece and the bell sounded its cry of joy.