Agents of Change: Female Activism in Virginia from Women’s Suffrage to Today

September 22nd, 2020

The passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 radically re-defined the meaning of American democracy by banning gender-based restrictions on voting. This landmark legislation marked the culmination of a concerted fight for women’s suffrage and heralded a new age of female participation in American civic life.

Organized in conjunction with the statewide Women’s Suffrage Centennial, this exhibition featuring artifacts from the museum’s vast collections and new acquisitions made through a major collecting initiative, celebrates a century of women’s social and political activism in the Commonwealth. Highlighting the efforts and impact of a selection of female change-makers these women brought about positive change in their communities, the Commonwealth, and the nation. They also created new models of female empowerment and new opportunities for women—ultimately fostering a more inclusive and equal society.

Thank you to our exhibition sponsors: The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. G. Gilmer Minor III and Lynda Johnson Robb.

“Votes for Women: 100 Years, 1920-2020 and Going Strong!” Driving Tour

In commemoration of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial, the League of Women Voters – Richmond Metro Area created a self-guided tour of historic sites around the Richmond area that have been significant to the struggle for the women’s vote in Virginia. View the tour map and site listing here.

“These Things Can Be Done” Documentary

A century ago, women were not assured a voice in American democracy. In August 2020, the U.S. celebrates the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. In “These Things Can Be Done,” a new documentary produced by Boedeker Films and VPM with support from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemoration in partnership with the VMHC, the often overlooked narrative of women’s suffrage in Virginia is brought to life through rare archival footage, photographs, oral histories, radio broadcasts, and interviews with historians, descendants of suffragists, and modern activists.  Watch the film on YouTube and view a panel discussion from the historians featured in the film on YouTube.  

Agents of Change Online Exhibition

Explore our online exhibition of Agents of Change: Female Activism in Virginia from Women’s Suffrage to Today with a 360-degree virtual tour.

Today’s Agents of Change Photo Project

In association with the Agents of Change exhibition, the VMHC engaged a group of contemporary “agents of change” to recreate an iconic 1915 photograph of the Virginia suffrage movement (seen at the top of this page). About 100 years after the original was taken, the VMHC brought together a group of contemporary “agents of change” to recreate the image. Although not a comprehensive picture, this 2020 portrait captures the dynamism and diversity of female activism in Virginia today.

The photograph was unveiled at the VMHC on Sunday, March 8, 2020 to celebrate the opening of Agents of Change and International Women’s Day. The photograph will be displayed at the VMHC during 2020. Learn more about the project and participants.

Is there a woman whose activism has inspired you? 

Consider honoring a woman in your life with a mimosa tribute gift! Help us fill the museum with mimosas celebrating the women who have impacted your life by making a gift of $50 to the VMHC today. Learn more and make a gift here.

The VMHC is also collecting stories and items that celebrate Virginia women as drivers of change. Share your stories and items here.