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(Anti)SUFFRAGE

Introduction

(Anti)SUFFRAGE presents thirteen rare books, broadsides, paintings, photographs, and other items from the Boston Athenӕum’s special collections that look at how the suffrage movement contributed to redesigning women’s roles and responsibilities in society from varied perspectives as they vied for equality.

(Anti)SUFFRAGE commemorates a historic, yet still relevant movement in women’s and American history regarding the right to vote—the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment stated that the right of citizens to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” There exists, however, no amendment addressing the racism and misogyny permeating politics and society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that suffragists struggled against.

The Boston Athenӕum seeks to cultivate an appreciation for the richness of visual and material culture, to foster a deeper understanding of history, and to spark conversations of critical importance. Drawing on the Athenӕum’s extensive collections, including substantial documentation of the history of American social movements, (Anti)SUFFRAGE creates an opportunity to explore the complexity of the struggle to secure and protect voting rights for women and people of color in the past and today.

(Anti)SUFFRAGE was curated by Theo Tyson, Polly Thayer Starr Fellow in American Art and Culture. Originally on view in the Athenӕum’s Henry Long Room from November 1, 2019 to March 13, 2020, the online version of (Anti)SUFFRAGE includes additional related works presented by Theo Tyson, Events Manager Elsa Fogg Vernon, and Rare Materials Catalog Librarian Kaelin Rasmussen in the Athenӕum’s fall 2019 Eye of the Expert program.