Exhibition “Votes For Women: A Portrait of Persistence” at the National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. had organized since March, 29, 2019 an exhibition entitled “Votes For Women : A Portrait of Persistence” which ends on January 5, 2020. It is part of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative “Because of Her Story” that collects, shares stories of inspiring women who contributed and who still contribute to women’s equality in the nation and in the world. (see more information about “Because of Her Story” initiative on  womenshistory.si.edu). 

Source: Meyer, Jonathan. “What To See In Washington DC.” What To See In Washington DC, Mar. 2019, whattoseeinwashingtondc.com/index.php/2019/04/05/two-in-a-million/.

The exhibition is divided chronologically and thematically and shows American women’s struggle to gain equality from 1832 through 1919 until today. It gives a particular place to pioneers of the movement who greatly contributed in the struggle for women’s suffrage such as Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth and participants in the 1848 Sececa Falls convention such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone. The exhibition also sheds lights on activists such as Alicia Paul, Carrie Chapman Catt, Lucy Burns and Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President in 1872.

Signers of the Declaration of Sentiments at Seneca Falls (1848).
Source : US Census Bureau. “Signatures to the ‘Declaration of Sentiments.’” The United States Census Bureau, 27 Aug. 2019, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/sis/resources/historical-documents/declaration-sentiments.html.

By opening with a page from The Liberator -an abolitionist newspaper- featuring an engraving of an enslaved woman, the exhibition gives a particular place to the role of Black women in the suffrage movement and shows how women of color were kept apart from the main suffrage organizations. Some of the women of color who fought for the right to vote are presented in the exhibit : Sarah Remond, who filed one of the earliest lawsuit protesting race segregation; Ida B. Wells and her curse against lynchings; Mary Church Terrell, the founder of the National Association of Colored Women (1896) and Patsy Takemoto Mink, who became the first non-white female member of Congress in 1965.

Photograph shows four early members of the NACW. From left to right : Mary McLeod Bethune (president from 1924 to 1938), Julia West Hamilton (treasurer), Ella P. Stewart (president from 1948-1952) and Mary Church Terrell (first president, 1896 to 1904).
source : Ohio Memory Collection ‘National Association of Colored Women Photograph.” Ohio History Connection, https://ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/p267401coll36/id/15691

The exhibition also diplays original photographic portraits, paintings, engravings, works on paper, lithographs, video, newspapers, postcards, books, ballots, banners, fliers, a china set, embroidery and pennants. By recounting the incredible stories of those inspiring women, curator Dr. Kate Clarke Lemay shows how the struggle to gain equality was still in process after the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1919.

Dr. Kate Clarke Lemay will be a part of the conference. She will present the importance of women’s suffrage movement in American History.


You may see more information about the exhibition by following the link:   https://npg.si.edu/exhibition/votes-for-women?utm_source=washingtonorg&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=votes-women-portrait-persistence


Sources :

Jenkins, Mark. “This Smithsonian Exhibition Follows the Long Road to Women’s Suffrage.”
The Washington Post, WP Company, 18 Apr. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/museums/this-smithsonian-exhibition-follows-the-long-road-to-womens suffrage/2019/04/18/102865d4-5f8e-11e9-9ff2-abc984dc9eec_story.html.


“Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence.” National Portrait Gallery, 26 June 2018,
www.npg.si.edu/exhibition/votes-for-
women?utm_source=washingtonorg&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=votes-women-
portrait-persistence.


Merrine Vanhille


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