Did you know that every county in Tennessee had it’s own suffrage story? For example, the women of Lynchburg did create their own local suffrage league.
The Tennessee State Museum announced this week that Ratified! Tennessee Women and the Right to Vote will extend its run through September 26 of this year. Originally, the exhibit planned to close in the spring and it 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 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.”
The stories of Tennesseans’ roles within the women’s suffrage movement – culminating with Tennessee’s ratification of the 19th amendment 100 years ago – are at the heart of the 8,000 square-foot, two-gallery exhibition, which has received notice in the past year in The New York Times, the Associated Press, USAToday, AAALiving, TN Home and Farm, Tennessee Crossroads, Talk of the Town and more, and was a Writer’s Poll winner for Best Historical Exhibition in the Nashville Scene.
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.
To learn more about the exhibition, visit the Tennessee State Museum site by clicking here.