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Ways to Commemorate the Women's Suffrage Centennial in Washington, DC
Museums throughout DC honor the 100th anniversary of the landmark passage of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote.
A major moment in the women’s suffrage movement occurred right here in Washington, DC when the 1913 Women’s Suffrage Procession took place on Pennsylvania Avenue. Thousands joined in protest to march for the right to vote, including speakers like Helen Keller, as well as both male and female African American students from Howard University. The march built the momentum that would eventually culminate in earning women the right to vote.
This year, numerous DC museums and institutions are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment by Congress on June 4, 1919, which gave women the right to vote in the United States for the first time. Although it was not ratified until Aug. 18, 1920 and African American women were denied voting rights in many Southern states until 1965, this centennial remains a monumental moment in the history of women’s rights.
As the center of democracy, the nation's capital played a major role in helping to advance the freedoms of women then, and it continues to serve as the site where citizens can exercise their freedom of speech today.
Commemorate the women's suffrage centennial in Washington, DC with these pivotal, exciting (and free) exhibits and events below, and check out other great ways to celebrate the contributions of women in DC.
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The National Museum of Women in the Arts
This fall, the only museum in the world solely dedicated to the artistic achievements of women honors the women’s suffrage centennial with a bounty of programs. On Sept. 29, the museum’s Cultural Capital series hosts In the Parlour, a one-act play that will showcase African American women and their role during the suffrage movement. Their FRESH TALK series will host Art, Power, and the Vote – 100 Years After Suffrage on Nov. 17, where you will be able to hear from artists and activists who work in response to social unrest. From Nov. 25-27, you can catch 19, a musical telling of the suffragists and their fight for the right to vote, which resulted in the 19th Amendment.
Hours & Admission
National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005
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Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument
The National Park Service conducts tours of the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument, a 200-year-old historic house in Capitol Hill that has been at the center of the fight for women's rights since the National Woman’s Party became the owner in 1929. Guests can learn about the origins of the suffrage and women’s rights movements, as well as the women who earned the right to vote and introduced the Equal Rights Amendment. Hour-long tours of the museum are available at 9:30 and 11 a.m. and 2 and 3:30 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday | Free
144 Constitution Ave NE 900 Ohio Drive SW Washington, DC 20002
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Portrait Monument to Pioneers of Suffrage Movement
Among the most hallowed ground in our democracy, the U.S. Capitol Rotunda displays statues depicting past presidents like Washington and Lincoln, as well as a trio of significant women suffragists. This 14,000-pound monument immortalizes Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the first women to demand the right to vote, Susan B. Anthony, who proposed the Amendment that would pass after her death, and Lucretia Mott, a Quaker preacher who fought for women’s equality in the 1800s. The National Woman's Party presented the monument as a gift to the Capitol, which was accepted and unveiled during what would’ve been Anthony’s 101st birthday in 1921. While you’re there, head to the National Statutory Hall Collection to pay homage to Avard Fairbanks, a woman suffrage leader from Wyoming.
8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday | Free
First Street NE, Washington, DC 20515
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‘Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence’ – Through Jan. 5, 2020
The National Portrait Gallery honors the suffrage centennial with this in-depth exhibit. You’ll learn about the radical women that fought slavery, the women activists of the late 1800s, the “New Woman” of the 20th century and the relentless suffragists of the 1910s through a series of portraits, cultural artifacts and biographies. The exhibit also examines the struggles that minority women still face today, 100 years after the 19th Amendment passed. Find even more ways to celebrate the achievements of women in DC.
11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. | Free admission
National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F Streets NW, Washington, DC 20001
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‘American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith’ – Ongoing
‘All Work, No Pay: A History of Women’s Invisible Labor’ – Ongoing
These two exhibits at the National Museum of American History showcase women’s experiences through powerful artifacts and storytelling. American Democracy features Susan B. Anthony’s red shawl, suffrage buttons, the table on which Elizabeth Stanton drafted the Declaration of Sentiments for the famous Seneca Falls Convention and a women’s suffrage wagon. All Work, No Pay highlights, through aprons and housedresses, how women continue to be unfairly responsible for the almost-timeless and endless unpaid work at home.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. | Free admission
National Museum of American History, 1300 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20560
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'Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote' – May 10 – Jan. 3, 2021
This 3,000-square-foot exhibit in the Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery at the National Archives uses more than 90 items, including records, artifacts and photographs, to tell the complex story of diverse suffragists in securing women’s voting rights. The exhibit also goes well beyond 1920 to show the relentless struggle that occurred throughout U.S. history to win voting rights for all women.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. | Free admission
National Archives, 701 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20408
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'Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote' – June 4 – Sept. 2020
The seven-decade struggle for women’s suffrage will be illuminated in striking detail in this new exhibit at the Library of Congress. Visitors can retrace stories of diverse women who changed America. The exhibition draws from the collections of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Mary Church Terrell and other suffragists – in their own words. Photographs, film footage and rare manuscripts will transport visitors back in time as women took their place in the public square. Use #ShallNotBeDenied to share your experiences at the museum.
8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Saturday | Free admission
Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20540
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‘Ordinary Equality: DAR Members and the Road to Women’s Suffrage, 1890-1920’ – June – April 2021
The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Museum & Archives invites you to observe how members of the organization took advantage of increased opportunities for women to participate in social reform activities, in turn helping to make the dream of women’s voting rights a reality. Inside, you will find biographies, correspondence and photographs from the DAR archives that highlight the tremendous accomplishments of more than 40 women.
Hours | Free admission
DAR Museum & Archives, 1776 D Street NW, Washington, DC 20006