A flag carried by suffragists, courtesy of Sophie Sides Cowan.

The Library of Virginia has announced that it will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment during National Women’s History Month this March with a special book launch, two exhibitions, and a downloadable coloring book.

On March 11, the Library of Virginia will kick off a small-group discussion series designed to encourage informed conversations around complex topics affecting Virginia. On the second Wednesday of each month, the Library will screen a segment from a documentary film, followed by a round-table conversation with input from a moderator and historical expert from the Library. The March 11 event will feature a screening from the documentary Feminists: What Were They Thinking and will include conversations about current and historic feminist terminology and attitudes.

On March 12, the Library of Virginia will debut The Campaign for Woman Suffrage in Virginia, a new book that explores the achievements of women who fought for the right to vote in the commonwealth. Costumed interpreters from Maymont will kick off the event with a ca. 1916 suffrage rally that includes pro and con viewpoints before leading participants into the Lecture Hall for a conversation with the authors.

Ground-breaking African American entrepreneur and activist Maggie Lena Walker campaigned for women’s suffrage.

In addition to the book launch and the group discussion series, the Library of Virginia will continue to tell the story of Virginia’s suffragists and their contributions through We Demand: Women’s Suffrage in Virginia. Running through December 5, this new exhibit will reveal how women created two statewide organizations to win the right to vote. The exhibit will feature the artists and writers, business and professional women, and reformers who marched in parades, rallied at the state capitol, spoke to crowds on street corners, staffed booths at state and county fairs, lobbied legislators and congressmen, picketed the White House, and even went to jail. Items on display will include suffrage postcards and memorabilia such as pinback buttons and badges, as well as banners from the Virginia branch of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, photographs, and film footage. This exhibition is a project of the Task Force to Commemorate the Centennial Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote. 

Unfinished Business: Lining up in the Portsmouth city registrar’s office to register to vote, September 29, 1964. Photo by Joseph T. McClenny, courtesy of Portsmouth Public Library.

A second exhibition, Unfinished Business, will feature a series of panel displays on the Library of Virginia’s second floor that explore the fundamental question of citizenship through obstacles that limited suffrage to some Americans, including the Equal Rights Amendment (first introduced in 1923), extending citizenship to America’s indigenous peoples, eliminating the poll tax and literacy tests, and the continuing advocacy for restoration of rights to felons. This exhibition will complement We Demand: Women’s Suffrage in Virginia, running through December 5, 2020, in the Exhibition Gallery.

The Library of Virginia has created the following online resources in honor of National Women’s History Month:

Downloadable Coloring Book on Women’s Suffrage in Virginia


We Demand: Women’s Suffrage in Virginia exhibition website


Women’s History in Virginia – a compilation of resources


Virginia Changemakers – Virginia Women in History Honorees


Women’s History Documents for Educators


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