Where to Celebrate Women’s Suffrage 100th Anniversary
By Evelyn Kanter
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
August 18, 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote.
It’s hard to believe women were not permitted to vote until 1920, but not hard to believe that museums around the USA are recognizing the historic change with exhibits on Women’s Suffrage, along with cities and towns where heroines of the movement lived and organized supporters.
These are some of the most interesting and important – online or in person.
Women and free people of color voted legally from 1776 to 1807, but lost the vote in a little-known series of losing battles at the ballot box, examined in the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. The exhibit includes original hand-written polling lists from the period, and explores how the American Revolution shaped political opportunities and activism to this day.
When Women Lost the Vote also is a cautionary tale of America’s first voting rights crisis, which still resonates today, in this presidential election year. The exhibit is open through April 2021.
The Women’s Museum of California, in San Diego, is focused year-round on the accomplishments of the world’s women, from Joan of Arc to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In this anniversary year, practically the entire museum is dedicated to the history of Suffrage in the USA. In person or online, you’ll find a Suffrage Timeline Poster and the “Amazing Women” feature, including n exhibit on CJ Walker, a beauty expert who was the first African-American female entrepreneur – and millionaire.
Who knew that Wisconsin was the first state to vote in favor of ratification?
Voting for a Change: Impact of the 19th Amendment on Our Community is a yearlong+ exhibit by the Neenah Historical Society marking state history of the women’s suffrage movement and 19th Amendment. Neenah is about 80 miles southeast of Milwaukee, an easy daytrip.
Similarly, who knew that Tennessee was the 36th and final state to vote for ratification?
There are several spots in Nashville to pay your respects.
The Tennessee Woman Suffrage Monument in Centennial Park is a privately funded $900,000 monument that features five women who were actually in Nashville during the final ratification effort: Anne Dallas Dudley and Frankie Pierce of Nashville; Sue Shelton White of Jackson; Abby Crawford Milton of Chattanooga, and Carrie Chapman Catt, the national suffrage leader who came to Nashville during the summer of 1920 to direct the pro-suffrage forces and stayed at the Hermitage Hotel.
Also in Nashville, women artists have painted murals depicting women and Women’s Suffrage. Walls for Women is on display through Election Day 2020.
The Tennessee State Museum has an exhibit – Ratified! Tennessee Women and the Right to Vote – exploring the roles these women and others played in the national movement
In Denver, “Bold Women. Change History.” tells how Colorado’s voters became America’s first to extend state voting rights beyond men on November 7, 1893. The exhibit highlights topics that resonant during this presidential election year, including grassroots organizing, the influence of news outlets, and racism in political advocacy.
It’s on exhibit through February 2021 at the Center for Colorado Women’s History at the Byers Evans House Museum.
Four African-American educational institutions are partnering with the Digital Public Library of America to create a national digital collection highlighting the roles and experiences of Black women in the women’s suffrage movement and other examples of women’s rights, voting rights and civic activism between the 1850s and the 1960s. It will be the first such resource of its kind, for scholars, students, and the rest of us who are simply interested in history.
The four educational groups are the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston, Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library, Tuskegee University, the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University. A fifth participant is the Southern California Library.
Most important, however, may be Upstate New York, where the movement began in the 1870s, and where there is a Suffrage Trail that includes the homes of leaders.
Visit The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester, New York, where Anthony lived and worked, and where she is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery (which also happens to be the final resting place of Frederick Douglass).It served as headquarters for the National American Women Suffrage Association, which Anthony, who was born 200 years ago, founded.
In nearby Seneca Falls, visit the Women’s Rights National Historic Park and Women’s Hall of Fame, and the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, known as the Center of the Rebellion. Also nearby is the Harriet Tubman Home, which she purchased in 1859, a decade after escaping to freedom.
New York State approved women’s suffrage in 1917.
Several exhibits and a music project in New York City commemorate the momentous change in US law.
Women March celebrates the centennial and explores the efforts of many of the women who struggled to expand American democracy in the centuries before and after the suffrage victory. The exhibit includes imagery and video footage of women’s collective action over time and the struggles which have endured into the 21st century.
The exhibit is on display through January 2021 at the New-York Historical Society, along with a recreation of the Oval Office in the White House, as part of another comprehensive exhibit on all 45 US presidents and their legacies.
As part of its Activist New York exhibit, the Museum of the City of New York surveys the history of activism in NYC with a focus on the battle of women’s suffrage from 1900-1920. illustrated by images, biographies, and a timeline of events. Much of the material is available online.
Women of the Nation Arise! Staten Islanders in the Fight for Women’s Right to Vote is both online and outdoors at Snug Harbor, a historic museum and botanical garden founded in 1801 as a home for retired sailors.
The exhibit presents stories of Staten Island suffragists focusing on four tactics they used in the decades-long struggle for political change before they could vote: education, organization, agitation, and publicity. Even 100 years later, that four-pronged outline remains an effective outline for all political and civil rights movements.
The New York Philharmonic launched Project 19 as a multi-season initiative to commission and premiere 19 new works by 19 women composers—the largest women-only commissioning initiative in history. The Phil has already premiered several works and will introduce the remaining commissions in future seasons.
Evelyn Kanter is a longtime newspaper and magazine journalist, radio & TV news producer & reporter, and guidebook and smartphone app author, all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer. Follow her website, www.ecoxplorer.com