The exhibition features the lives and work of four women from the late 19th century through the end of the 20th century, who were dedicated to democratic change and expanding the rights and freedoms of women and all Americans. From traditional methods of lobbying legislators and holding elected office to grassroots public demonstrations and teach-ins, these women exemplified American civic responsibility.
MIT-educated architect Florence Luscomb began her life-long commitment to activism as a suffragist. She became a labor organizer, crusaded for freedom of speech, ran for governor, supported the civil rights movement, and actively protested American involvement in the Vietnam War.
Maud Wood Park honed her prodigious lobbying skills as a suffragist and as the first president of the League of Women Voters. Recognizing the importance of all that she and her colleagues had achieved, she gathered together the documents of the women's movement. Park's gift to her alma mater, Radcliffe College, is the nucleus from which the Schlesinger Library evolved.
Born on a ranch in Montana, Jeannette Rankin embraced the suffrage movement and was elected as the first female congressperson in 1917. In Congress she demonstrated her commitment to her ideals of peace by voting against American participation in World War I and World War II. Rankin was widely criticized for her opposition to United States involvement in these wars.
Outspoken and flamboyant, Florynce Kennedy fought injustice as a lawyer, grassroots organizer, and political activist. Her efforts to achieve women's rights and civil rights were epic in their range and influence, from fighting prejudice in the media to championing women's rights to control their reproductive lives.
The activism of these four tenacious women expanded the opportunities of all Americans, regardless of their gender or race, and led to the creation of a more democratic American society.
The exhibition opens on Monday, March 26, 2012, and runs through Friday, September 7, 2012, and will be on view in the Schlesinger Library’s first floor exhibition area during regular library hours: Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.