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Press Release
March 5, 2013

The National Archives Pays Tribute to Women’s Suffrage in March

Washington, DC…The National Archives honors the Women’s Suffrage movement and celebrates Women’s History Month with a featured document display and related programs. All are free and open to the public, and will be held at National Archives Building in Washington, DC, which is located on the National Mall and is fully accessible. For programs in the William G. McGowan Theater, attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW.

Featured Display:  The 19th Amendment March 1-7, East Rotunda Gallery
DOCUMENT:  House Joint Resolution 1 proposing the 19th amendment to the states, 1919 National Archives, General Records of the U.S. Government

IMAGE:  “Bastille Day spells prison for sixteen suffragettes who picketed the White House. Miss Julia Hurlbut of Morristown, New Jersey, leading the sixteen members of the National Womans Party who participated in the picketing demonstration in front of the White House, Washington, District of Columbia, July 14, 1917, which led to their arrest. These sixteen women were sent to the workhouse at Occoquan, [Virginia] on July 17, 1917, upon their refusal to pay fines of $25 each, but were pardoned on July 19, 1917. ”Photograph by Harris and Ewing, National Archives, Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs.

Background

The 19th Amendment guarantees American women the right to vote. Achieving this milestone required a lengthy and difficult struggle; victory took decades of agitation. Beginning in the mid-19th century, woman suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what many Americans considered radical change.

Between 1878, when the amendment was first introduced in Congress, and 1920, when it was ratified, champions of voting rights for women worked tirelessly, but their strategies varied. Some tried to pass suffrage acts in each state—nine western states adopted woman suffrage legislation by 1912. Others challenged male-only voting laws in the courts. More public tactics included parades, silent vigils, and hunger strikes. Supporters were heckled, jailed, and sometimes physically abused.

By 1916, most of the major suffrage organizations united behind the goal of a constitutional amendment. When New York adopted woman suffrage in 1917, and President Wilson changed his position to support an amendment in 1918, the political balance began to shift. On May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives passed the amendment, and two weeks later, the Senate followed. When Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920, the amendment was adopted. While decades of struggle to include African Americans and other minority women in the promise of voting rights remained, the face of the American electorate had changed forever.

Related Programs

When We Were Free To Be: Looking Back at a Children’s Classic and the Difference It Made
Friday, March 8, at noon
Free to Be . . . You and Me—the groundbreaking children’s record, book, and television special, debuted in 1972. Conceived by actress and producer Marlo Thomas and promoted by Ms. magazine, it captured the spirit of the growing women’s movement and inspired girls and boys to challenge stereotypes, value cooperation, and respect diversity. When We Were Free To Be: Looking Back at a Children’s Classic and the Difference It Made book editors Lori Rotskoff and Laura L. Lovett will discuss this cultural milestone with Free To Be...You and Me producer Carole Hart; Dorothy Pitman Hughes, a lifelong activist for social justice and children’s welfare; and child development specialist Barbara Sprung. A book signing will follow the program. This special event celebrates the March 8 opening of a new photographic exhibition, “Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project,” located in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery.

BOOK TALK:  The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II
Wednesday, March 13, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater
The Tennessee town of Oak Ridge was created from scratch in 1942 as one of the Manhattan Project’s secret cities. It was home to more than 75,000 people, many of them young women recruited from small towns across the South. Denise Kiernan discusses her book, The Girls of Atomic City, and the women who unwittingly played a crucial role in one of the most significant moments in U.S. history. A book signing will follow the program.

Online Educational Resources:

The National Archives is fully accessible, and Assisted Listening Devices are available in the McGowan Theater upon request. To verify dates and times of the programs, call 202-357-5000 or view the Calendar of Events online. To contact the National Archives, please call 1-866-272-6272 or 1-86-NARA-NARA (TDD 301-837-0482).

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-357-5300.

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