Rightfully Hers exhibit now open

The National Archives launched our newest exhibit, Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote, last week at the Lawrence O’Brien Gallery of the museum in Washington, DC.

Most Americans consider the ability to vote fundamental to the enjoyment of full citizenship. American women, however, were long denied that right. In 1920, American democracy dramatically expanded when the newly ratified 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibited the states from denying the vote on the basis of sex. This landmark voting rights victory was made possible by decades of suffragists’ persistent political engagement, and yet it is just one critical milestone in women’s battle for the vote.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote looks beyond suffrage parades and protests to the often overlooked story behind this landmark moment in American history. This fuller retelling of the struggle for women’s voting rights illustrates the dynamic involvement of American women across the spectrum of race, ethnicity and class to reveal what it really takes to win the vote for one half of the people.   

A view of the Rightfully Hers exhibit gallery. Photo by National Archives photographer Jeff Reed.

This exhibit highlights hard-won victories that stemmed from the woman suffrage movement. But it also reminds modern-day citizens of their responsibilities and encourages all to be ‘election ready’ and exercise the right to vote. As home to some of the most important records from the woman suffrage story, including the 19th amendment, the National Archives is uniquely positioned to create a powerful educational experience that relates the fuller story of the struggle to make the vote a reality for all women.

Several years in the planning stages, Rightfully Hers includes more than 90 original records including documents, photographs, artifacts, and audio and video recordings that connect to important historic milestones in the women’s struggle to gain the vote. Exhibit curator Corrine Porter dedicated the past two years creating an exhibit that includes the artifacts and documents we believed would best tell this story.

Curator Corinne Porter gives a tour of the Rightfully Hers exhibit. Photo by National Archives photographer Jeff Reed.

The National Archives will also host a range of public and education programs, including lectures, panel discussions, and other special events centered on the 19th Amendment and powerful women and their roles in our nation and its history. For a full list of future scheduled events, see the National Archives Calendar of Events.

The exhibit is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, through January 3, 2021. Admission is free.

For more information, visit https://museum.archives.gov/rightfully-hers-american-women-and-vote

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