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VOTES FOR WOMEN: A PORTRAIT OF PERSISTENCE, Exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

By Carolinearnoldtravel @CarolineSArnold

VOTES FOR WOMEN: A PORTRAIT OF PERSISTENCE, Exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Photo from the 1913 Women's March at the Capital at the entrance to the Votes for Women exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

In anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. has organized a special exhibition tracing the more than 80-year movement for women to obtain the right to vote as part of the larger struggle for equality. It is called Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence

VOTES FOR WOMEN: A PORTRAIT OF PERSISTENCE, Exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Map of states and women's suffrage in 1920. White indicates states with full suffrage, black no suffrage. Some states gave women limited rights to vote. The 14th Amendment gave all women the right to vote in every state.

On my recent trip to Washington, I had a chance to see the exhibit–a wonderful array of photos, videos, paintings, posters, books, pennants and much more. From a 19th century portable ballot box to a Suffragette cookbook, every object in the exhibit has a story. A few of the items that particularly fascinated me are below. But the best way to get a sense of the breadth of the exhibit is at the Google Arts and Culture website with its slide show of selected items. The accompanying book for the exhibit, Votes for Women: A Portrait for Persistence by Kate Clarke Lemay, who also curated the exhibit, is available at the museum shop and online.

VOTES FOR WOMEN: A PORTRAIT OF PERSISTENCE, Exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Winning poster design by Bertha Margaret Boye for the San Francisco College Equal Suffrage League, 1913. It is on the cover of the exhibition book by Kate Clarke Lemay.

VOTES FOR WOMEN: A PORTRAIT OF PERSISTENCE, Exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

In 1917, women who picketed the White House and refused to pay the fine after being arrested were sent to the Occoquan jail. One of them, Natalie Gray, embroidered her name and those of fellow picketers onto this scrap of fabric as a record of their time there.

VOTES FOR WOMEN: A PORTRAIT OF PERSISTENCE, Exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett, journalist. In 1913, at the suffrage parade in Washington, D.C., she famously refused to march in the back with the other African American women. Instead, she marched at the front of the Illinois suffrage delegation.

VOTES FOR WOMEN: A PORTRAIT OF PERSISTENCE, Exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Belva Ann Lockwood. She was the first woman to campaign for the presidency (1884 and 1888). Her platform focused on women's rights issues, particularly suffrage, temperance, and reform for divorce and marriage laws.

VOTES FOR WOMEN: A PORTRAIT OF PERSISTENCE, Exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

In Belva Ann Lockwood's presidential campaign in 1888 she had satin ribbons with a rebus puzzle, picturing her name with images of a bell, the letter "v", a lock, and a log of wood, thereby assisting illiterate voters. Belva, a trained lawyer, testified in Congress helping to achieve the 1872 equal pay bill for government employees. Her efforts also led to legislation enabling married women in the District of Columbia to retain their property rights and the passage of a bill to empower widows to claim full guardianship of their children.

These are just a small sample of the items in this exhibit. Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence will be on exhibit until January 5, 2020. If you are in Washington, D.C., it is well worth a visit.
The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Smithsonian. Admission is free.
National Portrait Gallery:
8th and F Streets NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
VOTES FOR WOMEN: A PORTRAIT OF PERSISTENCE, Exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

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