ALLIANCE — “Accounting for the whole story of the fight for women’s rights, including the ballot, constitutes more than the national movement and more than the Nineteenth Amendment—the story also is one of individual states and their relationship to the federal effort.”
It’s been a labor of love, now finished, for Dr. Jamie Capuzza, professor of communication at the University of Mount Union. For more than three years, she has been working on a new book, entitled The Fifth Star from Kent State University Press. The book explores how the women of Ohio were essential to the national women’s suffrage movement and how the struggle for women’s voting rights, in particular, required persistence in the face of defeat.
Capuzza, who has served on the Mount Union faculty for 30 years, began the project during a year-long sabbatical in the 2019-2020 academic year. While researching the women’s suffrage movement, she found something missing in all the books she was reading.
“I had books on suffrage in New York, Wyoming, Tennessee, and many other states but there was nothing from Ohio,” said Capuzza. “I thought I simply hadn't reserved that book yet, but when I went to do so, there wasn't one. I contacted our super sleuth librarians to see what they could find. Much to our surprise, they came up empty, too. I knew then I had to devote my project to this topic so as to address this significant oversight.”
Researching and writing the book took Capuzza more than three years as even though she was working on the project during her sabbatical, Covid-19 slowed down the process because she could not physically access archives.
“Reading what seemed to be countless primary sources spanning over 75 years – Ohio constitutional convention proceedings, Ohio General Assembly reports, newspaper articles from across the state and the nation, diary entries of suffragists, minutes from suffrage conventions, annual reports from suffrage associations, etc. – took an incredible amount of time and effort,” said Capuzza.
However difficult the research, Capuzza was dedicated to telling the story of Ohio and its impact in the women’s suffrage movement.
"I knew a good deal about the U.S. women's suffrage movement prior to starting this project since I teach in the gender and sexualities program at Mount Union,” said Capuzza. "However, most suffrage studies focus on the movement at the national level at the expense of state-level research. Studies such as these are an important part of each state's history as well as the history of voting rights across the nation.”
While Capuzza worked solely on the book herself, she does credit numerous local and regional organizations for their help in aiding her research.
“I do owe a debt of gratitude to many Ohio institutions including the Mount Union library and its administration, but also the Ohio History Center, the Massillon Museum, Kent State University Library and Western Reserve Historical Society, among others,” said Capuzza.
What is next on the horizon for Capuzza? She says that there is a good level of interest in The Fifth Star even though it won’t be released until April 18. In fact, the book has already been featured in the Akron Beacon Journal's Book Talk and Capuzza is also participating in speaking engagements across the region in an effort to continue to bring light to this important topic. Currently scheduled events include a book launch at Kent State University on April 18, an event at Rodman Public Library in Alliance on April 24 at 6:30 p.m., a book signing on April 30 at Fireside Book Shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio and an event at Prologue Books in Columbus, Ohio on May 26 at 6:30 p.m.
For more information on the book or speaking engagements, email email@example.com. The book can be purchased with a 30% discount using the code "ENJOY30" through the Kent State University Press website.