In honor of the 100th Anniversary of New York State’s passage of the 19th Amendment, we are proud to open a very special exhibit highlighting the contributions of local women to the suffrage movement. Women from Washington and Warren Counties were active in local, state, and national campaigns to obtain the vote for women. The movement faced opposition not only from men, but from women who felt that working with benevolent organizations was a more effective way to influence society.
As local leader Laura S. Porter said, the movement was fraught with difficulty, “…we must go on through campaign after campaign of hard disagreeable, humiliating struggle in order to convince the voter, the man on the street, the man in his political club, the man anywhere we can find him and get his attention, that women are intelligent human beings, capable of having opinions about things which pertain to government and to society which government controls and directs, and that their right of expression on these things should be recognized by the state and the country.”
Still women persevered, working to gain support and at times campaigning for office, as Betty Wakeman Mitchell did in 1918 when she ran for NYS Assembly. Mitchell also actively campaigned for increasing public health nurses to help rural women in New York State.
The strong Quaker tradition in parts of Washington County also heavily influenced the growth of the Suffrage movement. Many of the women involved were also involved in local temperance organizations. Overall, the exhibit highlights the contributions of area women and gives a peak into the life of women in this area in the early part of the 20th Century.
The exhibit is located in our new exhibit space in the Dutch House and has been made possible by a grant from the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust