The Smithsonian lands in Jefferson County | New
On August 26, 1995, I attended the national celebration of the 75th anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment granting the right to vote to women. I remember walking the Washington Mall, singing suffrage songs, and listening to speakers.
Since the Beijing Women’s Conference was held at the same time, the Washington celebration was relatively small. Most of the female leaders, including First Lady Hillary Clinton, were in Beijing. It was an exciting event and I was looking forward to the 2020 centennial celebration across the country.
Major exhibitions were planned at the National Archives, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. Some opened in late 2019, others in early 2020. I was scheduled to attend the Organization of American Historians’ conference in early April in Washington, DC, and scheduled extra time there to do research at the Library of the United States. Congress and the National Archives.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, countless celebrations, including the events of the Nineteenth Amendment centenary, have been postponed, canceled or turned into virtual events. In March, my conference turned into a virtual conference as flights and hotel rooms were canceled. Long-planned exhibitions have been closed and staff at the facility have attempted to make them accessible to the public.
The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the National Portrait Gallery have come together to share their exhibit, “Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence,” in the form of a free poster exhibition. I received an email inviting museums and historical societies to apply. I applied on behalf of the Jefferson County Historical Society and was informed later that we would be a beneficiary. Our ensemble was received in the fall of 2020. To my knowledge, we are the only institution in Idaho to receive an ensemble.
This exhibition will open at the Philo T. Farnsworth TV & Pioneer Museum on August 26, 2021 (Equality Day), the 101st anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment.
“Votes for Women” was created with support from the Smithsonian American Women’s Initiative. It offers visitors to the Farnsworth Museum the opportunity to explore one of the longest reform movements in the United States. This exhibition consists of 10 posters based on the exhibition of the same name from the National Portrait Gallery. It addresses women’s political activism and explores contested universal suffrage.
The exhibit traces the ratification of the 19th Amendment which prohibits the government from denying US citizens the right to vote on the basis of gender. “Votes for Women” addresses the relevance of the suffrage movement to current conversations about voting and voting rights across America.