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Martha Wheelock Showcases Her Documentary Film

Rancho Los Cerritos will screen a compelling documentary film co-produced by Martha Wheelock called “California Women Win the Vote” on Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m. The film illustrates the dramatic history of women’s suffrage in California, which took place nine years before the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed which prohibited any U.S. citizen from being denied the right to vote based on sex (ratified August 18, 1920). Wheelock will discuss her research and answer questions following the screening.

Tickets for “California Women Win the Vote” are $7/general and $5/members or full-time students, and can be purchased at the door. Please RSVP in advance by calling (562) 570-1755.

Wheelock began her filmmaking career in 1978. Her inspiration to produce films about women was to not only educate, but to also empower women and girls. This need to educate others derived from her previous experiences of being a schoolteacher.

Furthermore, when Wheelock began filming, women’s studies programs were just emerging and films recognizing the success of women were almost nonexistent. “California Women Win the Vote” was developed after the film’s co-producer, Jane Guthrie, found an old book which covered the “California Suffrage Campaign of 1911.”

Guthrie brought up the idea that producing a documentary on women’s suffrage was perfect for its 100th anniversary, and Wheelock and Guthrie soon joined forces. The film made its debut in October 2011 at the California State Capitol’s centennial celebration and exhibitions on the subject.

“The progress of women is slowly underway,” Wheelock says. “Today, women are more prominent as owners of small businesses and in the leading professions, but such was not always the case.”

Wheelock sees herself making films to celebrate the accomplishments of women for many years to come. Through her work, she wants to elaborate on the presentation of strong role models for girls and boys, as well as expose inequality and injustices.

“California Women Win the Vote” is the second of a four-part “Notable Women in Western History” speakers’ series, which runs through May. Additional programs are scheduled for April 18 and May 30; check the Rancho Los Cerritos website,, for details.

Built in 1844, the adobe home and grounds of Rancho Los Cerritos echo with the rich history of Spanish, Mexican, and American California and with the families who helped transform Southern California from its ranching beginnings to the modern, urban society it is today. The two-story Monterey-style adobe is primarily furnished to reflect occupants and lifestyles from the 1860s-1880s. The site, a National, State and Long Beach Historic Landmark, also includes historic gardens and a research library and archives. It is owned by the City of Long Beach and operated through the Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine. For more information please call (562) 570-1755, or visit the website at and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.con/rancholosc.