August 15, 2012

Documents that Changed the World: The Nineteenth Amendment

News and Information

For the second podcast in his “Documents that Changed the World” series, Joe Janes explores aspects of a document Americans may not know as well as they think: The United States Constitution.

Documents that Changed the World

A podcast series by Joe Janes
UW Information School

These podcasts are also available on iTunes.

Transcripts and podcasts also available at the Information School website.

More specifically, the Nineteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1920 and at long last gave women the right to vote.

Joseph Janes

Janes, a professor in the UW Information School, has begun a series of original podcasts to investigate the backstories and often evolving meaning of important historical documents, both famous and less known. His podcasts are available on itunes and on the iSchool website, and UW Today is presenting them as an occasional series.

“I’m trying to take things that are less known or less appreciated and tell their stories in a slightly different way,” he said of the series. “To leave people with something new to think about, a background or perspective they didn’t know.”

Janes hopes that some day, the podcast series might find a larger audience or sponsorship, and of course he can’t help but dream of it running on National Public Radio.

As with many of his podcast topics, Janes got curious about what’s beyond the basic information most everyone knows about the Constitution. “The constitutional amendment process is one of those things we all learn about in school — two-thirds of Congress, three-fourths of the states,” Janes said. “But what actually happens? How do the details work?”

That led to what became his opening question of the podcast: Were any parts of the Constitution written by women? He said, “That’s another of those things that had never crossed my mind, but after 200-plus years, wouldn’t it be about time?”

Janes also muses over the scattered nature of the papers that comprise the Constitution itself, finally asking, “Where is the Constitution?”

“That’s not as ridiculous a question as it sounds,” he said. And as they breathlessly say on the evening news — the answer might surprise you.

  • Next podcast: A map to battle cholera in 1854.
  • Read the introductory UW Today story.