Exhibition commemorating the history of women’s suffrage to now run through September 26, 2021
Ratified! Tennessee Women and the Right Vote, the Tennessee State Museum’s exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, originally scheduled to close this spring, will be extended through September 26, 2021.
“The extension will allow visitors who have been unable to visit the museum extra time to explore Tennessee’s historic role in the ratification of the 19th amendment,” said Ashley Howell, Tennessee State Museum executive director. “Our COVID safety measures remain in place during this time, and we’ll continue to follow CDC and local and state health official guidance as we move into the spring and summer months. I hope is that everyone who has wanted to see the show will have had that opportunity by the fall of 2021.”
Ratified! Tennessee Women and the Right to Vote, spanning two galleries and 8,000 square feet, explores the story of women’s suffrage throughout the entire state of Tennessee in the decades leading up to the pivotal vote – and its impact on the century that followed.
“The ratification of the 19th Amendment was a major step forward in recognizing women as equal participants in American democracy and public life,” said curator Dr. Miranda Fraley-Rhodes at the launch of the exhibition. “For Tennessee women, this was especially important. They continued to face discriminatory laws that limited their rights to their children and prohibited them from activities like serving on juries. With the power of the vote, women gained a critical tool to demand change from state and local governments. It was a milestone in American and Tennessean women’s ongoing search for equality.”
Together with the stories of those women who represented the movement on the national stage, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth and Susan B. Anthony in its earliest days, and Ida B. Wells, Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul later, the exhibition highlights the stories of suffragists throughout Tennessee. Visitors will learn about the activities of the Maryville College Equal Suffrage Club, the Tullahoma Equal Suffrage League, and a suffrage parade in McKenzie that included “a column of young boys and girls afoot, waving balloons and banners…” Across the state in cities, towns, and rural communities, women like Abby Crawford Milton of Chattanooga, Juno Frankie Pierce and Anne Dallas Dudley of Nashville, and Lillian Perrine Davis of Lexington, among many others, worked to further the cause, despite much opposition. The exhibition also highlights women who served in public offices after ratification, including Willa McCord Blake Eslick, the first woman from Tennessee to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1932.
Ratified! Tennessee Women and the Right to Vote is told through six major sections that include Women’s Search for Political Rights, Why Women Want the Vote, Tennessee Suffragists, Women Gain the Vote, Changing the Political System. A final section provides an opportunity for visitors to watch a film culled from the Nashville Public Television (NPT) documentary, By One Vote: Woman Suffrage in the South, and reflect on the history of the suffrage movement. The exhibition uses artifacts, documents, archival photos, large-scale graphics, and additional videos from the NPT film to share the stories of the Tennesseans who came to have decisive roles in American women’s struggle to gain voting rights. Further information about the exhibition and archived videos of virtual events are available at the Museum’s website at TNMuseum.org.
Ratified! merchandise, including a variety of T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, tote bags, posters and more, remain on sale at the Museum Store adjacent to the Grand Hall.
About Tennessee State Museum
The Tennessee State Museum, on the corner of Rosa L Parks Blvd. and Jefferson Street at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, is home.to 13,000 years of Tennessee art and history. Through six permanent exhibitions titled Natural History, First Peoples, Forging a Nation, The Civil War and Reconstruction, Change and Challenge and Tennessee Transforms, the Museum takes visitors on a journey – through artifacts, films, interactive displays, events and educational and digital programing – from the state’s geological beginnings to the present day. Additional temporary exhibitions, including Ratified! Tennessee Women and the Right to Vote, explore significant periods and individuals in history, along with art and cultural movements. The Museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.. and Sundays from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. For more information on exhibitions and events, please visit tnmuseum.org.