Celebrating Women's Right to Vote

By Annie Tobey | January 14th, 2020

A year of remembering the 19th Amendment

Suffragette holding a sign promoting women's right to vote
Woman suffrage picketer | Photograph by Harris & Ewing, courtesy of Library of Congress

The year 2020 marks an important centennial: ratification of the 19th Amendment, which guarantees American women the right to vote. Museums throughout the nation will be honoring this anniversary, and therefore, over the next few issues BOOMER will highlight exhibitions and events in Virginia and D.C. and take a deep dive into people and issues.

The constitutional amendment passed the house and Senate in 1919; but it wasn’t adopted until Aug. 18, 1920, after Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify it (although women in racial minorities still struggled to exercise their rights).

Many decades of conflict led up to this achievement, beginning in earnest when the amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1878. Champions of voting rights for women worked tirelessly, not always in agreement on strategies or principles, while adversaries worked tirelessly, too.

19th Amendment exhibits of interest include:

The Valentine, Richmond: “#BallotBattle: Richmond’s Social Struggle for Suffrage,” through Sept. 7. TheValentine.org

Library of Virginia, Richmond: “We Demand: Women’s Suffrage in Virginia.” Jan. 13-March 2021. Read more from BOOMER and go to LVA.Virginia.gov

Also at the Library of Virginia, Richmond: “Unfinished Business.” Through Nov. 21. Panel displays examine what still needed to happen after the 19th Amendment in order to ensure that all citizens had equal voice in shaping government policies. LVA.Virginia.gov

The Ashland Museum, Ashland: Exhibit honoring the 19th Amendment, ongoing. AshlandMuseum.org

Edith Bolling Wilson House, Wytheville: The positions that President Woodrow Wilson and first lady Edith Wilson held regarding women’s suffrage. EdithBollingWilson.org

The Lucy Burns Museum, Lorton: Where suffragists were imprisoned for picketing the White House. WorkhouseMuseums.org

Virginia Museum of History & Culture, Richmond: “Agents of Change: Female Activism in Virginia from Women’s Suffrage to Today,” March 7-Sept. 27. VirginiaHistory.org

D.C. Commemorates: Women’s Suffrage Centennial. Washington.org/suffrage

  • Library of Congress: “Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote,” through September 2020. LOC.gov/suffrage
  • Smithsonian online resource: “Because of Her Story,” ongoing. WomensHistory.si.edu
  • S. Capitol Visitor Center: “Votes for Women” specialty tour, ongoing. VisitTheCapitol.gov/event-calendar
  • Daughters of the American Revolution Museum & Archives: “Ordinary Equality: DAR Members and the Road to Women’s Suffrage, 1890-1920,” through April 2021. DAR.org
  • National Archives: “Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote,” through Jan. 3, 2021. Archives.gov/women

NOTE: This page was originally posted to reflect exhibitions in January and February, but we have updated it to add new events throughout the year. Contact the Boomer editorial staff with suggestions.

On a museum kick? We’ve got more new stuff in local museums!

More from Boomer