County Archives Hosting Women’s Suffrage Exhibits
LEOMA, TN, August 21, 2020 -- The Lawrence County Archives is currently hosting two new exhibitions in honor of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial. They are Rightfully Hers, a pop-up exhibit from the National Archives, and To Make Our Voices Heard: Tennessee Women’s Fight for the Vote, a traveling companion to the Tennessee State Museum’s 8,000 square foot exhibition exploring the Women’s Suffrage movement in Tennessee, Ratified! Tennessee Women and the Right to Vote, currently open in Nashville. These exhibitions will be on view at the archives until November 3rd, Election Day.
Rightfully Hers commemorates the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. This exhibit contains simple messages exploring the history of the ratification of the 19th amendment, women’s voting rights before and after the 19th, and its impact today. Despite decades of marches, petitions, and public debate to enshrine a woman’s right to vote in the constitution, the 19th Amendment – while an enormous milestone – did not grant voting rights for all. The challenges of its passage reverberate to the ongoing fight for gender equity today.
According to Rightfully Hers co-curator Jennifer N. Johnson, "the ratification of the 19th Amendment was a landmark moment in American history that dramatically changed the electorate, and although it enshrined in the U.S. Constitution fuller citizenship for women, many remained unable to vote.”
Rightfully Hers is organized by the National Archives and Records Administration. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the National Archives has launched a nationwide initiative and major exhibition that explores the generations-long fight for universal woman suffrage. The exhibition is presented in part by the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission and the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of Unilever, Pivotal Ventures, Carl M. Freeman Foundation in honor of Virginia Allen Freeman, AARP, and Denise Gwyn Ferguson.
To Make Our Voices Heard: Tennessee Women’s Fight for the Vote, created in partnership with 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 is constructed of multiple dynamic panels, which offer guests a touch-free experience of archival images and provide 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 continue 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.
“As we commemorate the historic vote that took place at Tennessee’s State Capitol in August of 1920, we want to honor those individuals who played key roles in the journey to gain voting rights for women,” said Ashley Howell, Executive Director of the Tennessee State Museum. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to share these stories across the state.”
An online component of the exhibition, Ratified! Statewide!, highlighting the suffrage movement in every Tennessee county, is available now at tnmuseum.org. To Make Our Voices Heard: Tennessee Women’s Fight for the Vote was created with funding provided by The Official Committee of the State of Tennessee Woman Suffrage Centennial. The project is also funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.