Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment in the Midst of COVID-19 – Part 1

This is Part 1 of a two-part article. Part 2 can be accessed here.

SCRC planned an exhibit of materials to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in the fall of 2020. The exhibit was intended to coincide with a panel discussion on the Equal Rights Amendment to be held in Fenwick Library. Each fall the Libraries partner with Mason’s OSHER Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) to facilitate an event in which members of OLLI serve as panelists to discuss historical events and movements. A Mason faculty member serves as moderator.  The events are open to the university community and the public. SCRC creates an exhibition of its materials pertaining to the theme of the historical event about which the panel discussion will deal. And each year a visit to the exhibition for attendees was part of the program. The title for this exhibit would be “The 19th Amendment in the 20th Century”.

Poster for hanging in the window of a home to detail a resident’s voter status. League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area records, C0031

With the prolonged library closures due to COVID-19, we had to adapt both the OLLI event and the exhibition to work in an online setting. We chose the venerable Omeka digital exhibitions platform to create an exhibition of photographs, rare books, and manuscript items. We have used Omeka for about a decade and, while not terribly fancy, we’ve found it to be a fairly stable and easy to use CMS which, essentially, gets the job done. The digital exhibition can be found at http://artemis.gmu.edu/SCRC/exhibits/show/nineteenthamendment100

Entry page for “The 19th Amendment in the 20th Century” digital exhibit.

The exhibit contains 29 items selected from several collections, as well as rare books.  It covers about 150 years of the history of the Womens’ Rights Movement, from 1869 to present in 5 sections.:

  • The Womens’ Suffrage Movement in the 19th Century
  • The Womens’ Suffrage Movement in the Early 20th Century: Gaining Momentum
  • Ratification of the 19th Amendment and Afterward: Women Continue the Fight
  • Women Leadership in our Representative Government
  • The Womens’ Rights Movement Continues

Cast during Scene 8 of a performance of the Federal Theatre Project’s Lucy Stone in Boston, Massachusetts. Federal Theatre Project photograph collection C0205, Box 43, Folder 5

The panel program, Mason Library Oral History Project: The Equal Rights Amendment was held on November 17th via the Zoom meeting platform. Three presenters and about 40 guests participated in the 90-minute event. The program featured personal papers and photographs belonging to the presenters, but also images from our exhibit.  So, our goal in creating an exhibit which would complement the panel discussion was realized.  Part #2 of this article will detail the Zoom event.

Image from Jailed for Freedom by Dorris Stevens depicting suffragists in prison clothing. SCRC Rare Books, JK 1901 S74 1920

Follow SCRC on Social Media and look out for future posts on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. You may also e-mail us at speccoll@gmu.edu or call 703-993-2220 if you would like to schedule an appointment, request materials, or if you have questions.