About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "Women and the Vote: Opposition to Women’s Equality, from Suffrage to the ERA"

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
December 6, 2018

Good evening, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater. I’m Debra Steidel Wall, Deputy Archivist of the United States, and I’m glad you could be with us today, whether you are here in the theater or joining us through Facebook or YouTube.

We are pleased to be presenting this program in partnership with the National Woman's Party, the 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative, and The ERA Coalition, and we thank them for their support.

Before we start our conversation about “Women and the Vote,” I’d like to tell you about two other programs coming up soon in the McGowan Theater.

Tomorrow at noon, in connection with our current exhibit “Remembering Vietnam,” we’ll be showing a documentary film from the Archives’ motion picture holdings. The film is Vietnam!, Vietnam, and it was produced by John Ford for the United States Information Agency and narrated by Charlton Heston.

On Tuesday, December 11, at noon, Terry Golway will be here to tell us about his new book, Frank and Al: FDR, Al Smith, and the Unlikely Alliance that Created the Modern Democratic Party. The book discusses the unlikely political partnership between Franklin D. Roosevelt (a to-the-manor-born Protestant) and Al Smith (a Lower East Side Catholic)—and how they transformed the Democratic Party.

Check our website, Archives.gov, or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Visit its website—archivesfoundation.org—to learn more about the Foundation and join online.

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Tonight we kick off our observance of the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote—more than 130 years after the founding of the nation.

I’m very pleased to be a member of the Congressional Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission, which was created for the observance of the centennial of the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Throughout the centennial commemoration, educational programs, lectures, and special events will explore the many facets of the fight for woman suffrage.

We will open a new exhibit in March called “Rightfully Hers” in the Lawrence O’Brien Gallery as well as launch a traveling exhibit called “One-Half of the People.” They will use National Archives records to tell the story of women’s struggle for voting rights as a critical step toward equal citizenship. The 19th Amendment is rightly celebrated as a major milestone made possible by decades of suffragists’ relentless political engagement, yet it is just one critical piece of the larger story of women’s battle for the vote. The exhibits will explore how American women across the spectra of race, ethnicity, and class advanced the cause of suffrage and will follow the struggle for voting rights beyond 1920.

We’re very excited about the upcoming centennial and the exhibits and activities we are planning. The 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment reminds us that the right to vote, which is basic to our understanding of democracy, is not always guaranteed but was won through the work of generations of tireless activists.

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Now it is my pleasure to welcome Zakiya Thomas, Executive Director for the National Women’s Party. For more than 15 years, Zakiya has worked with organizations to improve processes, develop programs, and meet their goals. In 2014, she founded a management consulting firm on the premise of doing well while doing good. She is an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law, teaching a nonpartisan course on how to run for political office. Zakiya received a master of science in social work from Columbia University and a bachelor of science from the College of William and Mary.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Zakiya Thomas.