As we reach 100 years since the 19th Amendment was ratified, we share five Northern Virginia-based attractions focusing on women winning the right to vote.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial in Occoquan late last year kicked off NoVA’s centennial celebration of the 19th Amendment for 2020. The memorial is slated to open on Aug. 20, but—while you wait for the unveiling—these local attractions also focus on women winning the right to vote.
Lucy Burns, a powerful speaker during the women’s suffrage movement, was one of 72 suffragists arrested for picketing at the White House. Charged with “obstructing traffic,” Burns and the others were jailed at the Lorton Reformatory and endured deplorable conditions and abuse. In protest, some went on a hunger strike. Their incarceration helped sway support for the movement and, two years later, Congress passed the 19th Amendment. The prison closed in 2001 and was repurposed as the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center in 2008. The complex recently opened the Lucy Burns Museum where visitors can go behind the bars to see where the women were jailed. // 9518 Workhouse Road, Lorton; free
When leaders of the National Women’s Party (NWP) purchased the Sewall-Belmont House in DC, they set up the suffrage movement’s headquarters and employed bold tactics to pass the 19th Amendment. Located steps from the U.S. Capitol, the NWP renamed it the Alva Belmont House, a benefactor for the suffrage movement. The 200-year-old house, now called the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality Monument (named after Alva Belmont and suffrage leader Alice Paul) was designated a National Historic Monument in 2016. National Park Service ranger-led tours include the first Feminist Library and data used to sway members of Congress. // 144 Constitution Ave. NE, Washington, DC; free
A recently opened exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, takes a look at the ongoing American experiment and includes a number of artifacts from the suffrage and civil rights movements. Look for Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s desk where she penned the Declaration of Sentiments and a circa-1870s “suffrage wagon” used by trailblazing suffragists. // 1300 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC; free
Opening next month, also at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum is, Creating Icons: How We Remember Women’s Suffrage. The exhibit will look at icons of the movement—both those who still loom large and those who’ve flown under the radar—and how that impacts the feminist movement today. The centerpiece of the yearlong exhibit will be a 6-foot tall portrait of Susan B. Anthony painted in 1900, along with artifacts from the 2017 Women’s March and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s gavel. // Opens March 6; 1300 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC; free
In a movement predating the Civil War, women fought for the right to vote. The effort required writing countless petitions, lobbying and picketing. Despite ruthless tactics employed by their opponents, the women persisted (sound familiar?). The Library of Congress debuted an exhibit in June 2019 that showcases that history: Shall Not Be Denied. Highlights include Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Bible, Ida B. Well’s “Negro Martyr” button, a book by Sojourner Truth and an account of the trial of Susan B. Anthony charged with illegally voting in 1872. // through September; 101 Independence Ave. SE, Washington, DC, Jefferson Building, Southwest Gallery; free