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Poster Exhibits: Centennial of American Women’s Suffrage

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What: Special poster exhibits honoring the centennial of American women’s suffrage

When: August 25, 2020 – March 31, 2021

Where: Birthplace of Country Music Museum

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is marking the centennial of women’s suffrage in the United States with two poster exhibits: Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence (Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service) and To Make Our Voices Heard: Tennessee Women’s Fight for the Vote (Tennessee State Museum). Both exhibits are a wonderful way to learn about and celebrate this historic milestone in our nation’s history, and they come with a variety of learning resources for families, teachers and students, and interested visitors (see below).

Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence

The story of women’s suffrage is a story of voting rights, of inclusion in and exclusion from the franchise, and of our civic development as a nation. Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and explores the complexity of the women’s suffrage movement and the relevance of this history to Americans’ lives today.

The crusade for women’s suffrage is one of the longest reform movements in American history. Between 1832 and 1920, women citizens organized for the right to vote, agitating first in their states or territories and then, simultaneously, through petitioning for a federal amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Based on the National Portrait Gallery exhibition of the same name, Votes for Women seeks to expand visitors’ understanding of the suffrage movement in the United States. The poster exhibition addresses women’s political activism, explores the racism that challenged universal suffrage, and documents the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment which prohibits the government from denying U.S. citizens the right to vote on the basis of sex. It also touches upon the suffrage movement’s relevance to current conversations on voting and voting rights across America.

Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery. This project received support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. The Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, Because of Her Story is one of the country’s most ambitious undertakings to research, collect, document display and share the compelling story of women. It will deepen our understanding of women’s contributions to the nation and the world. More information about the initiative is available at womenshistory.si.edu.

The image used in the header graphic is Equality Is the Sacred Law of Humanity, c. 1903–1915; Lithograph by Egbert C. Jacobson Courtesy of Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

To Make Our Voices Heard: Tennessee Women’s Fight for the Vote

To Make Our Voices Heard: Tennessee Women’s Fight for the Vote, a new traveling exhibition created by the Tennessee State Museum and the Tennessee State Library and Archives, explores the history of the woman’s suffrage movement, Tennessee’s dramatic vote to ratify the 19th Amendment in 1920, and the years that followed.

The exhibition offers a touch-free experience of archival images, engaging stories, and introductions to the leaders of the fight for and against the cause of woman’s suffrage. The stories begin by detailing the early challenges of racial and gender discrimination and continuing to the organization of African American and white women’s associations to encourage political engagement. Visitors will also learn about Febb Burn of McMinn County, whose letter to her son, Harry T. Burn, resulted in a last-minute vote that helped change women’s history in the United States forever. The exhibit includes a Tennessee map, highlighting suffragist activities across the state.

To Make Our Voices Heard: Tennessee Women’s Fight for the Vote was organized by the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Tennessee State Museum with funding provided by The Official Committee of the State of Tennessee Women’s Suffrage Centennial. This project was also funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Calling All Local and Amateur Historians!

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is also hoping to create a small display about women’s suffrage in our region. Do you have any photographs, articles, ephemera, etc. related to women’s right to the vote or their exercise of that right – past or present – in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee? If so, please get in touch with Head Curator Rene Rodgers at rrodgers@birthplaceofcountrymusic.org.


Educational Resources

Many of the Smithsonian’s museums and other educational institutions have developed materials to commemorate the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, and to broaden our understanding of U.S. history through the stories of women. The Tennessee State Museum has also created a website devoted to providing educational content focused on women’s suffrage.

Please click on the link below to view the educational resources for these poster exhibits.

Click Here for Educational Resources

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