Interpreting the Legacy of Women's Suffrage at Museums and Historic Sites

Interpreting the Legacy of Women's Suffrage at Museums and Historic Sites

Page Harrington


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Interpreting the Legacy of Women’s Suffrage at Museums and Historic Sites is an invaluable guide for public historians and practitioners who wish to share an updated historic narrative that is inclusive of the full breadth of the movement, including the pervasive bias and racism. This book acknowledges the barriers faced by history practitioners, from the difficulty in finding materials that document the political actions by women of color, to our own reluctance to broach this disparity, and then offers practical solutions and techniques for bringing about a larger shift in organizational culture.

To begin, this book includes a chronological primer on the US women’s suffrage movement and the events around the 50th, 75th, and finally the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment that took place in 2020. Additionally, four women’s history practitioners share case studies from their work at the National Woman’s Party, the Frances Willard House, and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Each organization is moving forward to confront the racist tactics, or documented racism within their own history. The final case study written by Chick History showcases their multi-year project to digitize and make available family and local history related to African American women’s political history in Tennessee before 1930. The case studies can be used as models for best practices, cautionary examples of lessons learned, and can be replicated at sites of all sizes.

Lastly, the book provides an expansive list of online resources as well as a discussion guide on the history of women’s voting rights. Interpreting the Legacy of Women’s Suffrage at Museums and Historic Sites will be helpful to both practitioners and community organizations as they engage in public discussions or convene focus groups around the sensitive topics of bias and racism within the larger women’s suffrage movement.


Page Harrington:

Page Harrington is the past executive director of the National Woman’s Party at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument (formerly Sewall-Belmont House & Museum). Harrington had direct responsibility over all operations, staff, and administration as well as oversight of historic property and archival collection of 30,000 pieces. During her tenure she curated exhibits and guided collection staff and interns on maintenance and conservation of the nationally recognized archive of suffrage artifacts, photographs, textiles, and rare books. She created partnerships with nationally and internationally noted academic scholars and universities that allowed NWP to expand education programs connecting historical content to current political and social topical issues for women today. This included active collaboration with national philanthropic and educational partners including Kettering Foundation, Girl Scouts of the USA, Library of Congress, and National Archive Foundation to explore 21st century methods of engaging public around American history themes.