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Staten Island Museum Brings Women's Suffrage Exhibition Outdoors and Online

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The exhibition is titled 'Women of the Nation Arise! Staten Islanders in the Fight for Women’s Right to Vote.'

Staten Island Museum Brings Women's Suffrage Exhibition Outdoors and Online

This year the Staten Island Museum marks the centennial of the 19th Constitutional Amendment with a new exhibition, Women of the Nation Arise! Staten Islanders in the Fight for Women's Right to Vote. The exhibition opened in March and will continue its run outdoors this summer presenting the remarkable stories of local suffragists acting on the grassroots level to create the momentum necessary for regional and national change and the bold tactics they employed to win the vote.

The public is invited to explore this new exhibition featuring stories of Staten Island's unique place in the history of the suffrage movement outside of the Staten Island Museum on the grounds of Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden (social distance required).

"Women of the Nation Arise! is the result of four years of primary research in the Staten Island Museum's collection of suffrage periodicals. Staten Island suffragists made a significant difference through their bold actions and added Staten Island's voice to the national conversation about women's suffrage. We are excited to continue sharing these stories with the public with outdoor and online presentations that pay tribute to the suffragists' struggle to earn the right to vote," said Janice Monger, Staten Island Museum President & CEO.

The exhibition connects visitors to the challenging history of securing women's right to vote and its relevance to present-day considerations of civic engagement and voter participation. Staten Island's role in the fight for women's political equality was both innovative on a national level and uniquely suited to the community from which it came. From lectures to street meetings to high-flying spectacles, suffragists employed a broad range of tactics to bring attention to and garner support for the movement. In 1913, Rosalie Gardiner Jones became the first suffragist to fly for the cause when she dropped 'votes for women' leaflets from a bi-plane over Staten Island.

The Staten Island Museum has also engaged local filmmaker Rachel Caccese to interview women representatives in government about the importance of voting, public service, and civic engagement. Interviewees include United States Senator for New York Kirsten Gillibrand, Lieutenant Governor of New York Kathy Hochul, Attorney General of New York Letitia James, New York State Senator Diane J. Savino, New York Supreme Court Judge Judith N. McMahon, New York State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, Public Administrator Edwina Frances Martin, Esq., and Richmond County Board of Elections Commissioner Patricia Anne Taylor. The film can be viewed on the Museum's website along with the entirely digitized exhibition here: http://statenislandmuseum.org/athome/online-exhibitions/women-of-the-nation-arise/vote/

A 30 foot sculpture on site, created by SI Makerspace in collaboration with the women led staff of the Staten Island Museum artistically represents a historic flight by Rosalie Gardiner Jones, the first suffragist in the nation to fly for the cause in 1913. The sculptural biplane is on display outside of the Staten Island Museum on the grounds of Snug Harbor.

Featured Suffragists

Elizabeth Neall Gay - a staunch abolitionist also devoted to women's rights.

Elizabeth Burrill Curtis - a parish community leader and vocal advocate for voting rights and civic education for women.

Mary Otis Willcox - the indefatigable (as described by her peers) officer in the Political Equality Club, Chair of the Staten Island Woman Suffrage Party, and the first woman to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Staten Island Museum.

Florence Spearing Randolph - reverend in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and co-founder of the New Jersey Federation of Colored Women's Clubs.

Linda French - local teacher and suffragist, who marched in parades for Woman Suffrage and attended suffrage meetings through New York City.

Alberta Hill - a press magnet who rode in the Washington D.C. suffrage parade on horseback.

Dorothy Day - a radical activist who protested for peace, and immigrants', workers', and women's rights.

Mary Lawton Metcalf - a columnist for the Staten Island World who wrote under the name Electra Sparks in favor of woman suffrage and social reforms.

Drusilla Poole - a community leader, founder of the Women's Civic and Political Union, and active member of the National Association of Colored Women, Urban League, and Empire State Federation of Women's Clubs.

Mary Grey Brewer - the first woman to run for office on Staten Island on a major party ticket.

The Woman Voter and The Suffragist - the suffrage periodicals in the Staten Island Museum's collection that inspired the exhibition have been digitized and made publicly available online: https://archive.org/details/statenislandmuseum.

The Staten Island Museum is a co-founder of the Women's Suffrage NYC Centennial Consortium with the New York Historical Society which represents a collaboration of cultural organizations citywide to make connections between related exhibitions and programs that offer a fuller picture of the women's suffrage movement and its lasting impacts. For more, visit https://womenssuffragenyc.org/.

On August 26th, to honor Women's Equality Day (the day the 19th amendment was ratified) the Staten Island Museum along with several other institutions will light up their buildings in suffrage colors to pay tribute to this remarkable moment in history.

Exhibition Advisors Panel

Funded through a planning grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, key scholars contributed their expertise to the exhibition:

Susan Goodier is a Lecturer of History at SUNY Oneonta and specializes in U.S. Public Policy History, International Gender and Culture, and Black Women's History. She is the author of No Votes for Women: The New York State Anti-Suffrage Movement and co-author with Karen Pastorello of Women Will Vote: Winning Suffrage in New York State.

Catherine Gray is Co-President of the League of Women Voters of the City of New York since 2016 after being a member for more than a decade. She is retired from her job as a librarian with Brooklyn Public Library for over thirty years.

Sarah Litvin is Director of the Reher Center for Immigrant History and Culture, a new museum and center for civic engagement in Kingston, New York. Sarah was formerly on the curatorial team of the New-York Historical Society's Center for Women's History. She completed her PhD in U.S. women's history in 2019 with a dissertation focused on how women used the upright parlor piano to pursue their far-flung ambitions and expand women's roles at the turn of the twentieth century.

Margaret Middleton is a designer and developer of exhibitions and graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. They are passionate about the intersection of museum work and social justice movements. They have received a number of awards for excellence and diversity.

Debbie-Ann Paige is a public historian specializing in African American history, co-president of the newly chartered Richard B. Dickenson Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAGHS) and professional genealogist.



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