Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote

This year marks the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the United States. The exhibition, Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote, commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which prohibited voting discrimination based on sex. This pop-up display and online exhibit from the National Archives also provide resources about African American women who were excluded from white-led suffrage meetings in the 1920s, women who didn’t gain a right to vote with the 19th amendment (such as Puerto Rican women, Native American women, and Asian immigrant women), discriminatory poll taxes, local laws, and other restrictions that continued to block women from voting, and current voting rights challenges. While the Voting Rights Act of 1965 banned discriminatory practices enacted to prohibit African American people from voting, the Supreme Court invalidated part of the 1965 law in 2013.

An online supplement to this exhibition features historical documents and photos related to voting rights. This supplement includes a drawing of a voting machine for states where women did not have full voting rights. If the voter identified herself as a woman, the machine would conceal certain ballot items. Also included in the online supplement is a booklet from 1938 that documents Southern practices to prevent Black people and poor white people from voting. The pamphlet, “Look Southward Angel!”, calls for readers to support the Southern Conference for Human Welfare.

Explore the ratification of this historic amendment, women’s voting rights before and after, and its impact today at the Library exhibition through the fall 2020 semester. Investigate additional online resources, photos, and documents at the National Archives online exhibition.