NASHVILLE, TN – The stories of Tennesseans’ roles within the women’s suffrage movement and the ratification of the 19th amendment 100 years ago are the focus of an 8,000-square-foot exhibition “Ratified! Tennessee Women and the Right to Vote” now open at the Tennessee State Museum.
“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,” and “Changing the Political System” with a final section that includes a film on the history of the suffrage movement. The exhibition uses artifacts, documents, archival photos, large-scale graphics, videos, interactive elements and public programming.
In August 1920, the nation’s eyes were on Tennessee. The 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote throughout the country, had passed at the federal level a year earlier, and was making its way through state legislatures for ratification. It needed 36 states to approve it, and was stalled at 35. Tennessee was its best hope for ratification. The final vote for ratification at the State Capitol in Nashville on Aug. 18, 1920 was historic not only in its outcome, but for its 11th-hour circumstances and the uncertainty surrounding that outcome.
In “Ratified! Tennessee Women and the Right to Vote,” curated by assistant chief curator Miranda Fraley Rhodes, Ph.D., the Tennessee State Museum explores the circumstances in and around Nashville in August 1920, but also delves into the story of women’s suffrage throughout Tennessee in the decades leading up to the vote and its impact on the century that followed.
Together with the stories of 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, Catherine Chapman Catt and Alice Paul later on, 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. 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 worked to further the cause.
For more information, visit www.TNMuseum.org.