This story is cross-posted on the blogs of the Library of Congress, National Archives, and Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative.
When it came to advocating for women’s right to vote, creative communications tactics changed minds. Women demanded the vote by staging costumed tableaux at protest marches, organizing church committees, holding up handmade signs in front of the White House, getting arrested, publishing their own newspapers, and even walking 230 miles from New York City to Washington, D.C.
If social media had been available, these women would likely have leveraged it to organize and draw attention to the cause of woman suffrage. (A recent tweet from the National Archives tells us that “suffrage” comes from the Latin word “suffragium,” meaning the privilege to vote.)
But while women couldn’t tweet or post on Instagram at the turn of the 20th century, we can! As we approach the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment — a critical milestone in women’s battle for the vote — we invite you to learn about this history through social media.
Before the March 3, 1913, woman suffrage march in Washington, D.C., suffragists debated whether African American participants should walk in a segregated section. Suffrage leader Ida B. Wells joined the parade and marched alongside the all-white Illinois delegation. Sallie E. Garrity (ca. 1862–1907) Albumen silver print, ca. 1893. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Learn more in the “Votes for Women” Google Arts & Culture online exhibition.
In 1917, suffragists were arrested for picketing the White House. This suffragist is being escorted into a car to be taken to the police station. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/533776
A diverse group of suffragists in 1916 demonstrates against President Woodrow Wilson along a street in Chicago. Library of Congress, National Woman’s Party Records. See more photographs, letters, records and scrapbooks from suffragists in the new exhibition Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote at the Library of Congress.
June 4: Meet real suffrage documents on Instagram
On the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s passage by Congress, the National Archives held an Instameet and took everyone behind the scenes with Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote exhibition curator Corinne Porter. You can still join in by following the hashtag #RightfullyHers on Instagram. You’ll see the original 19th Amendment; a 1910 patent drawing for a gendered “voting machine”; a 1946 affidavit from Julia Denetclaw, a Navajo Indian woman who was refused permission to register to vote; anti-suffrage material; and more.
June 4: Discover women’s history stories from around the U.S. on Twitter
Explore objects, stories, and resources from museums, libraries, and archives across the country with the hashtag #19thAt100. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is convening more than 50 organizations to share stories related to the past, present, and future of woman suffrage, with a particular focus on women’s stories that have been overlooked. It’s part of the Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative.
June 20: March along with us on a social media tour
Telling the story of the largest reform movement in American history is a big job for any single exhibition, so we are bringing three exhibits to you! Social media guides from the Smithsonian, National Archives, and Library of Congress will visit our three exhibitions and share the highlights with you on Twitter and Instagram. Follow the hashtag #HerVote100 to meet the experts who worked on the exhibition and learn about the women who persisted in the fight for the vote. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Stops on our social tour include:
Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote at the Library of Congress
Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote at the National Archives
Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery
Throughout June: Get your weekly dose of women’s history
Celebrate the passing of the 19th Amendment with 19 weeks of amazing women in history with the @USNatArchives on Instagram. Starting on June 5, the National Archives will post a theme each week featuring a woman in history. Share the story of women who inspire you by using the hashtag #19forthe19th!
The Library of Congress also is exploring the stories of individual suffragists and their contributions to changing America each week through June. Follow along with #ShallNotBeDenied on Twitter and Instagram.
Here’s where you can find us on social media:
- Library of Congress
- Twitter: @LibraryCongress
- Instagram: @LibraryCongress
- National Archives
- Twitter: @USNatArchives
- Instagram: @USNatArchives
- Presidential Libraries on Twitter: @OurPresidents
- National Archives Foundation
- Twitter: @ArchivesFdn
- Instagram: @ArchivesFdn_
- Twitter: @Smithsonian
- Instagram: @Smithsonian
- National Portrait Gallery
- Twitter: @SmithsonianNPG
- Instagram: @SmithsonianNPG
- National Museum of African American History and Culture
- Twitter: @NMAAHC
- Instagram: @NMAAHC
- National Museum of American History
- Twitter: @amhistorymuseum
- Instagram: @amhistorymuseum
June will be a big month for women’s history, but it’s a theme we’ll explore throughout the year. Other recommended hashtags to browse: #BecauseOfHerStory, #HiddenHerstory, and #Suffrage100DC.