Kalamazoo Stained-Glass Window Celebrates Votes For Women

Jul 1, 2020

The stained-glass window designed by Sniedze Rungis and created by James Rife
Credit Courtesy of the Ladies Library Association

Two-Thousand-Twenty marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote. A new-stained glass window has been installed at the Ladies Library Association building in downtown Kalamazoo celebrating the occasion.

Past LLA president Marge Kars says the window shows Aurora, the ancient Roman goddess of the dawn.

"She's robed in purple. And she's moving forward from the east side of the LLA building. And what that signifies is the dawning of a new era, which is women getting the right to vote."

The window was designed by Kalamazoo artist Sniedze Rungis (pronounced Snee'-zeh Roon'-ghiss) and created by stained-glass artist James Rife. The design by Rungis was selected from 11 submitted by ten area artists in 2019.

Kars says it also honors members of the Ladies Library Association who were involved in the suffrage movement. They included Florence Mills, Lucinda Hinsdale Stone, Caroline Bartlett Crane, and Nellie Sawyer Clark. They sometimes met with national leaders of the women's suffrage movement like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony when they came to Kalamazoo.

"This window celebrates the whole movement," Kars says, "But it also celebrates these women and the organization that continues to this day to be part of this community."

Kars says the Ladies Library Association plans to hold an event to show the window to the public when it can. An earlier event had to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Association was the first of its kind in Michigan when it was founded in 1852, and was only the third such group nationally. It opened Kalamazoo's first lending library years before the Kalamazoo Public Library opened in 1878. That same year the LLA opened its building on South Park Street in Kalamazoo. It is now a State Historic Site and a National Historic Landmark.