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New Free Library Exhibition on Philadelphia Women Fighting for the Right to Vote
PHILADELPHIA, March 22, 2021—Today, the Free Library opened a new exhibition titled Making Her Mark: Philadelphia Women Fight for the Vote. The exhibition, open by appointment weekday afternoons in the West Gallery of the Parkway Central Library, offers a look at the stories of Philadelphia women who built and sustained movements dedicated to voting rights.
“We are excited to open this exhibition to the public during Women’s History Month. Making Her Mark focuses on the timeline of the fight for the vote, how the 19th Amendment came about, how Philadelphia women made vital contributions to that fight, and how efforts to expand voting rights continue today,” said Suzanna A. Urminska, Curator of Exhibitions.
Among the women highlighted in the exhibition is Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a Black suffragist who witnessed and publically critiqued the ways in which largely white suffrage organizations did not advocate for women’s voting rights as a whole. Harper spoke at a women’s rights convention in 1866, calling on the audience to consider the following: "You white women speak here of rights. I speak of wrongs." Harper’s concerns foreshadowed the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which legally expanded voting rights to women even as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) women continued to be disenfranchised.
The exhibition also highlights Alice Dunbar-Nelson, who made her way through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware as a field organizer. During her tour, Dunbar-Nelson made public speeches multiple times per day that drew multi-racial audiences in the thousands. Dunbar-Nelson’s extensive writings and activism, as well as her personal experiences as a survivor of intimate partner violence and as a queer Black woman, are the topics of The Rosenbach’s ongoing digital exhibit, "I Am an American!": The Authorship and Activism of Alice Dunbar-Nelson.
Making Her Mark was curated by Jennifer Zarro, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Instruction, Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Temple University, with Suzanna Urminska. It will be available for viewing by appointment Monday through Friday in the West Gallery of the Parkway Central Library through Fall 2021. Appointments can be made for 1 p.m., 2 p.m., or 3 p.m. by calling 1-833-TALK FLP (825-5357) or visiting https://makinghermark.eventbrite.comto reserve timed tickets free of charge. The exhibition includes online resources and programs that can be found on freelibrary.org/exhibitions.
Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850