History center


Nationally-recognized artist J. Lenora Bressler opened the Polk County History Center 19th Amendment exhibit on Jan. 9, 2020, with a portrayal of Ruth Bryan Owen, Florida's first female representative to Congress.


BARTOW – Polk County History Center staff organized sold out shows earlier this month, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing and protecting women's Constitutional right to vote.

The 19th Amendment was first introduced in 1878 and ratified into law on Aug. 20, 1920. The amendment states that the right of citizens to vote "shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

On Jan. 9, nationally-recognized artist J. Lenora Bressler helped to open the Polk County History Center’s 19th Amendment exhibit with a live portrayal of Ruth Bryan Owen, Florida's first female representative to Congress.

Then Harrison School of the Arts theater department students performed “The Remarkable Susan,” a play written by Tim Kelly about the trial of Susan B. Anthony.

Polk County History Preservation Manager Myrtice Young said the weekend events, which were sponsored by the Polk County League of Women Voters and others, kicked off a yearlong “Democratic Dialogues” speaker series about democracy in the United States.

“All of the programs are themed to give us opportunities to think about an engaged voter public, to think about some areas of our diversity, our differences and possibly even start moving away from this very severe polarization that has occurred in our country,” Young said during a recent PGTV Polk Places video. “(The year) 2020 is important because it is the commemoration of the 19th Amendment, but it's also an important national election year.”

The yearlong theme will be capped off with a traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibit called “Voices & Votes, Democracy in America” in October, with support from the Florida Humanities Council and the Polk Centennial Coalition.

All of the monthly speaker events will take place on the third Thursday of each month at noon and are free and open to the public. Call (863) 534-4386 for more information.

Contact Charles A. Baker III at cbaker@d-r.media.