Women’s History

Honoring the Hard-Won Fight for Votes for Women

Alice Paul, national chairman of the Woman's Party unfurled the ratification banner from suffrage headquarters in Washington, DC when Tennessee, the 36th state, ratified on August 18, 1920.
Library of Congress

American women won the right to vote only 100 years ago – and only after a struggle lasting more than 70 years. This exhibit explores the origins of women’s suffrage and modern feminism -- an outgrowth of women’s critical involvement in the anti-slavery movement before the Civil War. Both White and African American abolitionists saw the need to expand the push for freedom for Black people with a movement to enable all women to exercise their rights as citizens.

History has long overlooked the role of African American women in the fight for women’s suffrage. Both before and after the Civil War, Black women had to struggle not only with the entrenched sexism faced by white women, but also with racism. They met the challenge, engaging in political activism and significant reform efforts from the earliest years of the suffrage movement.

Some of the most prominent women’s suffrage activists lived in New Jersey, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the founders of the movement, Lucy Stone, Florence Spearing Randolph, and Alice Stokes Paul.

Click on the sections below to view the exhibit:

The Woman’s Club of Maplewood — A Century of Service

The Woman’s Club of Maplewood, established in December 1916, was a product of a growing movement in America that had begun after the Civil War. Across the nation, women organized clubs to develop common interests and work together to improve their communities.

Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride

Until 1894 there were no female sport stars, no product endorsement deals, and no young mothers with the chutzpah to circle the globe on a bicycle. Annie Kopchovsky changed all of that.


Images


Washday Blues

The bottles, bars and boxes of soft and hard soaps and detergents that line supermarket and drugstore shelves today give little hint of the smelly and laborious processes that were once required to keep people and their belongings clean and fresh.

The Long Battle to Vote: Women’s Suffrage in America

At a time when America is beginning to realize that it lags far behind many other countries in electing women to positions of political leadership, it is appropriate to consider the long, dark history of women’s suffrage in our nation.

Her Story – Quilts and the Women Who Made Them

Quilts are among the few traditional household objects that bridge utility, communal activity and art, but they have always been made with consideration to their aesthetic value.

Slavery in New Jersey: A Troubled History is an illustrated 40-page book that traces the evolution of slavery in New Jersey, which began with Dutch settlement in the seventeenth century and continued through the end of the Civil War.


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