100 YEARS OF WOMEN'S VOTES

The Suffragist Project

As 2020 kicked off, everyone involved was happy to see the fruits of the labors that went into our historical newspaper preservation project fully realized. The digitized images of our century-old Meyersdale Commercial newspapers saved by former librarian Marguerite Cockley – along with a collection of the Somerset County Star and a special centennial issue of the Somerset Vedette – were made freely available within the Pennsylvania Newspaper Archive.

Of course, those old Commercials were what led to our project aimed at celebrating the local women who once worked to win the vote: “Alice, Flora and Their Friends … The Yet Untold Suffragist Story.” We are continually working to share the story behind these fascinating Somerset County women and their work through the West Central PA Suffrage project.

As a member of the Heinz History Center’s Affiliates Program, our library was given the unique opportunity of having California University of Pennsylvania students create for us a “digital story,” or short video focusing on a particular piece of local history. When contacted by affiliates program manager Robert Stakeley about this project, which the well-known Pittsburgh history museum annually undertakes in conjunction with the university, I jumped at the chance! After all, why not? All I had to do was briefly meet with the students via Zoom and then correspond with them to ensure they received the materials they needed to create their stories. It sounded like a pretty good deal to me.

And, as it turns out, it was! If you haven’t yet seen the digital stories these talented students created, please make it a point to do so. You’ll be impressed; I know I am! For starters, they’re helping our library share the story of our Meyersdale area suffragists, led by Alice Kiernan of Somerset. (Yet they didn’t stop there. Another group of students chose to focus on the dedicated effort behind the restoration of Meyersdale’s once dilapidated Western Maryland Railway Station and our historical society’s formation.)  Take a look at their fine work: