National Archives News

Rightfully Hers Exhibit to Close April 10

By Cara Moore Lebonick | National Archives News

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One section of the Rightfully Hers exhibit asks the question "How did women win the 19th Amendment?" (National Archives photo by Cathy Farmer)

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2022 — Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote, a featured exhibit in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, will close on April 10.

The exhibit, which launched in May 2019, was originally scheduled to close in January 2021. The closing date was extended to adjust for closures and restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rightfully Hers is a 3,000-square-foot interactive exhibit that brings to life women’s struggle for the right to participate in their democracy, through photos, records, objects, and even rare film footage. The exhibit celebrates the story of women gaining the right to vote, while explaining that not all women gained suffrage through the 19th Amendment.

“The exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment by looking beyond suffrage parades and protests to the often-overlooked story behind the landmark moment in American history,” said Deputy Archivist of the United States Debra Steidel Wall, who represented the National Archives on the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. “This fuller retelling of the struggle for women’s voting rights uses our records to illustrate the dynamic involvement of American women across the spectrum of race, ethnicity, and class to reveal what it really took to win the vote for one half of the people.”

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"Woman suffrage in Washington, DC. Suffragettes bonfire and posters at the White House, Washington, DC," 1918. National Archives, Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (NAID 45568334)

“Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment provides an unparalleled opportunity to elevate the untold stories of women’s history,” said exhibit curator Corinne Porter. “The exhibit at the National Archives and the Rightfully Hers popups are part of our nationwide initiative to share the story of the relentless struggle of diverse activists throughout U.S. history to secure voting rights for all American women.”

Rightfully Hers had a pop-up component, in addition to the gallery exhibit space. Pop-ups were sent to libraries, archives, museums, schools, or cultural organizations nationwide.

The display explores the complex history of the 19th Amendment’s ratification and women’s voting rights. The pop-ups were made possible by the National Archives Foundation (NAF) and the Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission (WSCC), then printed and distributed by the National Archives.

The pop-ups were run in two distributions after the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission gave NARA $150,000 to produce an additional 2,500 pop-ups following the initial run of 1,600 in 2019.

Throughout the hosting of the Rightfully Hers exhibit, the National Archives held public programs to help tell the story of the women's movement.

From book lectures to films and panel discussions, these programs helped document the women's story from many different perspectives. Public programs shifted from in-person to online due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of these programs was the National Archives Foundation naming Cokie Roberts as the 2019 recipient of its Records of Achievement Award in recognition of her commitment to chronicling the women's experience throughout history. Roberts died in 2019.The National Archives Foundation created the Cokie Roberts Women’s History Fellowship in her honor.

In addition to the support from NAF and WSCC, a large group of America's leading women in government, academia, business, philanthropy, and society provided an important message for the nation's women and girls in support for the National Archives Rightfully Hers initiative: "Rightfully hers, rightfully ours, rightfully yours. Let us never fail to be part of the democratic process.”

The National Archives also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment with a Women’s Suffrage Working Group.

The group helped brainstorm ways for the entire agency to celebrate the year of the anniversary. Many of these projects and ideas helped bolster the National Archive’ Women’s Rights webpage.

Anyone still wishing to visit the exhibit can do so through Sunday, April 10, 2022, at the National Archives Museum. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET Admission is always free and reservations are not required.

Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of Unilever, Pivotal Ventures, Carl M. Freeman Foundation in honor of Virginia Allen Freeman, AARP, AT&T, Ford Motor Company Fund, Facebook, Barbara Lee Family Foundation Fund at the Boston Foundation, Google, HISTORY ®, and Jacqueline B. Mars. Additional support for National Outreach and Programs provided by Denise Gwyn Ferguson, Maggie and Robert Boroujerdi, BMO Financial Group, The Hearst Foundations, Maris S. Cuneo Foundation, FedEx, Bernstein Family Foundation, and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation/Ambassador Fay Hartog-Levin (Ret.).