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Votes for Women: A Visual History

February 1, 2020 to September 27, 2020
New York City Suffrage March, 1913. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

New York City Suffrage March, 1913. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Henry Mayer, The Awakening, published in Puck February 20, 1915. Image courtesy Library of Congress.

Hy Mayer, The Awakening, published in Puck February 20, 1915. Image courtesy Library of Congress. 

[Suffragists demonstrating against Woodrow Wilson in Chicago, 1916], Library of Congress, Records of the National Woman’s Party.
[Suffragists demonstrating against Woodrow Wilson in Chicago, 1916], Library of Congress, Records of the National Woman’s Party.
A group of women at the Wilmington train station departing for a suffrage demonstration in Washington, D. C., May 9, 1914. Courtesy of the Delaware Historical Society.
A group of women at the Wilmington train station departing for a suffrage demonstration in Washington, D. C., May 9, 1914. Courtesy of the Delaware Historical Society.
Official Program, Women’s Suffrage Demonstration in Washington, D.C., 1913. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

Official Program, Women’s Suffrage Demonstration in Washington, D.C., 1913. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, 1913. Image courtesy of the Howard University Magazine.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, 1913. Image courtesy of the Howard University Magazine.

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The health and safety of the Brandywine's visitors, staff and volunteers is our top priority. Out of an abundance of care and concern, the Brandywine River Museum of Art will be closed until further notice. We appreciate your patience with us as we navigate this unprecedented situation. Please click here to read a letter from our Executive Director & CEO.

 

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which granted women the right to vote—although many voting struggles persisted for marginalized groups following its ratification. The long road to women’s suffrage, spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, played out very differently from political movements today. In the absence of televised and digital media, the suffragists spread their message through magazines, political cartoons, posters, plays, parades, and even through fashion. This exhibition will examine the visual culture of the suffrage movement, revealing how the “look” of women’s rights developed along with the important visual strategies that propelled the campaign.

Votes for Women: A Visual History includes drawings, illustrations, and posters from museums, historical societies, and private collections that visualize the complex political messages conveyed by suffragists. Also included are historic photographs of marches and rallies, including the 1913 Women’s Suffrage Procession in Washington D.C. Examples of the costumes, clothing, sashes and other emblems of women’s activism worn by suffragists enliven the presentation, drawing comparisons between the representations and realities of women’s struggle to win the vote.

Presenting an inclusive historical narrative, the exhibition recognizes the efforts of women of color and their community networks, which have been largely overlooked, giving the false impression that women of color were absent from the struggle for voting rights. As a way to recognize these marginalized communities, the Brandywine commissioned a diverse group of women artists to create a mural of illustrated portraits featuring some of the women whose role in winning voting rights has been historically minimized because of their race or ethnicity. The mural includes portraits of 14 local and national figures with accompanying biographies.

As Votes for Women further illustrates, the visual lessons of the suffrage movement provided a model for later activism, including the civil rights and social justice movements up to the present day, making this not just a centennial commemoration, but a window into contemporary discourse.

Serving as a companion to Votes for Women: A Visual History, an accompanying photography exhibition, Witness to History: Selma Photography of Stephen Somerstein, continues the story of the ongoing struggles marginalized communities faced when voting following the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment. The exhibition features 55 photographs taken during the historic 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama on March 25, 1965—a turning point in the civil rights movement that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. 


Events

Letters to Aunt Hattie*
Sunday, February 2, 2 p.m.

Free
A play about African American abolitionist and suffragist Harriet Forten Purvis followed by a talkback.

Curator’s Gallery Talk: Dressed to Express
Thursday, February 6, 2 p.m.

Free with Museum admission
Votes for Women exhibition-themed gallery talk with curator Amanda C. Burdan.

Seeing Suffrage With 2020 Vision*
Wednesday, February 19, 11 a.m. & 6 p.m.

$15 members; $20 non-members
Lecture with curator Amanda C. Burdan exploring the making of the Votes for Women exhibition.

Justice Bell at the Brandywine
February 26 through March 9

Free with Museum admission
The replica Justice Bell will be on view at the Brandywine River Museum of Art from February 26 through March 9.

Votes for Women: Tour & Tea
Thursdays, February 27, March 26, April 30 and May 28, 2–4 p.m.

A one-hour, docent-led tour followed by an afternoon tea in the Millstone Café.

First Sundays for Families*
Sunday, March 1, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.

Free admission 
Free creative art activities and performances.

Celebrate International Women’s Day*
Sunday, March 8, 12–3 p.m.

Included with Museum admission
Celebrate International Women’s Day at the Brandywine with special events and exhibitions!

Liberty 1915: One Cartoon, Many Stories^
Wednesday, March 11, 6 p.m.

$15 members; $20 non-members
Dr. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich will discuss images of Liberty related to abolition and suffrage, showing how the images were transformed over time. 

Stroller Tour: Votes for Women
Friday, March 13, 10:30 a.m.

Free with Museum admission
A guided tour designed especially for adults accompanied by babies.

Women's Leadership Roundtable & Networking^
Thursday, May 7, 6 p.m.

$25 members; $35 non-members; $20 Young Professionals
Hear from well-known women leaders as they share their advice and reflect on their careers, followed by a networking reception.

Curator’s Gallery Talk: Seeing Suffrage from the Outside
Thursday, May 14, 2 p.m.

Free with Museum admission
Votes for Women exhibition-themed gallery talk with curator Amanda C. Burdan.

First Sundays for Families*
Sunday, June 7, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.

Free admission 
Free creative art activities and performances.
 

*Art of the Vote program presented by PNC Arts Alive.

^The Votes for Women Speaker Series & Summit is sponsored by Chase, PECO, the Qurate Retail Group, the Arcadia Foundation, and the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls.

Votes for Women: A Visual History is made possible by PECO, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Coby Foundation, Ltd., the Arcadia Foundation, and The Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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Additional support has been provided by donors to the Brandywine River Museum of Art Exhibition Fund in honor of Christine Podmaniczky, including the Davenport Family Foundation, William C. and Laura Buck, Ms. Carol Ware, Ms. Mary Graham, Mr. and Mrs. Anson McC. Beard Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Robert V. Duprey/Hamilton Family Charitable Trust, Mr. and Mrs. Michael R. Matz, Dr. and Mrs. John Fawcett, Morris & Boo Stroud, Mr. and Mrs. Christopher F. Buccini, Mr. Alan P. Slack, and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph W. Lurquin Jr.

Art of the Vote educational programs are generously sponsored by PNC Arts Alive.


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Vision 2020 is a national women's equality initiative headquartered at Drexel University’s Institute for Women's Health and Leadership. In the year 2020, Vision 2020 will lead Women 100: A National Celebration of American Women to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: women’s right to vote. Throughout the year, Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy, will be home to Vision 2020’s Women 100 programs and events, complemented by the work of Proud Partners — organizations committed to gender equality that have created their own programming in support of Women 100. Vision 2020 applauds Brandywine River Museum of Art, one of its Women 100 Proud Partners, on the organization’s commitment to advancing women’s equality and looks forward to its 2020 program.

The Justice Bell Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate, inspire and mobilize current and future voters. With programs for schools, a film about the Women’s suffrage movement, and a replica Justice Bell that will tour Pennsylvania in 2020, the Justice Bell Foundation is committed to reclaiming women’s history and highlighting women’s contributions. The Brandywine River Museum of Art is pleased to partner with the Justice Bell Foundation and display the replica bell in 2020.