The Northeast Georgia History Center at Brenau University will host a series of in-person and virtual events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment.
These events will take place throughout the month of August and include an exhibit, called Voices for the Vote: the Struggle for Women’s Suffrage, beginning on Tuesday, August 18. This date will mark exactly 100 years since Tennessee became the last of 36 states needed to ratify the amendment.
According to Lesley Jones, Archives Manager for the History Center, this exhibit will cover the history of the suffrage movement. This history begins, Jones said, with the first suffrage convention in 1848 in Rochester, New York and ends will the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.
“We want to talk about the long process to the ratification of the 19th Amendment,” said Jones. “I look to use different races, classes and genders and how they persevered throughout the decades.”
Jones said the exhibit will also include information from the local suffrage and anti-suffrage movements. She said Helen Longstreet and Mildred Rutherford are two women that will be highlighted in the exhibit.
Jones said that Longstreet played a large role in the local suffrage movement. The second wife of Confederate General James Longstreet, according to the Longstreet Society, she was the first woman in Georgia to serve as Assistant State Librarian.
Longstreet’s other notable accomplishments include ensuring the accuracy of her husband’s legacy and advocating for the creation of a state park at Tallulah Gorge.
Rutherford was the president of the Daughters of the Confederacy, head of the Lucy Cobb Institute and played a large role in the local anti-suffrage movement. She served as president for the National Association Opposed to Women’s Suffrage, an organization founded in Georgia.
“Georgia actually had the largest anti-suffrage movement in the country at the time,” said Jones.
Artifacts to be featured in the exhibit include scrapbooks, old yearbooks from Brenau University and mannequins wearing 1920s-style clothing with sashes similar to those worn by the suffragettes.
Kids who visit the exhibit will be given a craft kit to take home with instructions to make their own sashes.
Libba Beaucham, Director of Media and Communications for the History Center, said that virtual events will be streamed on Facebook Live and Youtube throughout the month. One program scheduled for August 29 will include interviews with Jones and historian Marie Walker, Director of Education for the center, about the history of the suffrage movement.
Beaucham said that other programs will feature history center staff portraying historical figures. Beaucham herself will portray suffragist Lucy Stone in a program scheduled for August 21.
“You’ll get to see and hear from those voices…they’re from primary sources so these are their words and we are bringing them to life,” said Beaucham.
Beaucham said other programs throughout the month will focus on the history of the Girl Scouts organization and women’s service in the military.
Virtual programming for the upcoming 19th Amendment series can be accessed through a paid membership of $3 per month or an annual fee of $35 per year. However, Beaucham said that amidst the economic downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic, History Center staff are willing to accommodate families who cannot afford a membership.
The cost of admission for the exhibit is $6 for adults, $5 for active military and senior adults, $4 for students. Children ages five and under are free.
There is a mask requirement in place for all visitors; no more than 25 visitors will be allowed in the exhibit at one time.
More information about the History Center and additional upcoming events is on their website.