Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and the 100th anniversary of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland with a new exhibit experience.
Presented by PNC in collaboration with the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland (LWVGC), “Women and Politics: Empowered to Vote, Empowered to Lead” traces the story of women’s role in the political sphere. The exhibit explores Ohio’s contributions to the suffrage movement; the successful fight for the 19th Amendment; the birth and growth of the League of Women Voters as a force for good government; and the election of northern Ohio women to positions of power on the local, state and national levels.
The new virtual exhibit is available for public purchase online at wrhs.org/explore/exhibits/women-in-politics.
“Women and Politics” started as a conversation between LWVGC and WRHS. The project was initiated to mark the 100th anniversary of the LWVGC and the adoption of the 19th Amendment in 1920, a constitutional amendment that prohibits the government from denying the right to vote on the basis of sex. These talks grew into a much larger conversation about women and the long and complicated struggle for the vote, equality and leadership across all sectors of society — a lasting and universal story about empowerment and human rights.
The story of woman suffrage begins before the Civil War, when the phrase “all men are created equal” applied only to white men. Women were denied the right to vote, own property, and hold public office. However, many women — white women and free women of color — found their voices in reform movements such as abolition and temperance.
By the 1850s, America was in the midst of a wide and deep ranging social and economic transformation that had a profound impact on attitudes toward gender and the relationship of women to society. Women began to organize, waging battles for their rights that would continue for decades or longer. Ohioans waged three major campaigns to amend the state constitution, and although unsuccessful, from their work leaders emerged. After the 19th Amendment passed, Cleveland women won elections, transformed the system through the League of Women Voters, and paved the way for others to make change.
Today, as the U.S. continues its long and complicated struggle for equality, WRHS presents “Women and Politics,” a story about women but for all people. The exhibit and accompanying film profiles past and present heroes of Women’s Rights and is designed to be an informative aspirational message to the next generation of Women’s Rights warriors.