Shall Not Be Denied Preview

By | December 5, 2019

>>Good morning, and welcome
to the Library of Congress on a very special day. We’re grateful that
all of you are here so we can give you
an exclusive preview of the Library’s
newest exhibition, “Shall Not Be Denied:
Women Fight for the Vote.” The exhibition is part of
the Library’s commemoration of the national centennial
celebration of women’s suffrage. It will spotlight the stories
of dozens of diverse women who shaped the suffrage
movement and made history. The exhibition is also
part of the Library of Congress’s year-long
initiative to explore America’s
change makers, and we’re opening this
wonderful exhibition to the public this coming
Tuesday, June the 4th. And as you probably know,
that date is very important in history because on
June the 4th, 1919, the U.S. Senate finally approved
the women’s suffrage amendment and sent it to the
states for ratification. And the 19th Amendment
was finally ratified by enough states
in August of 1920. Now, the exhibition
will tell the story of the largest reform
movement in American history with documents and
artifacts from the women who changed political
history 100 years ago. What makes this exhibition
unique is that the Library of Congress holds the
personal collections of many American suffragists
and leaders of the movement. And this includes the
handwritten letters, speeches they prepared, the
scrapbooks, the diaries, all created to document
their work. They donated the materials
to the national library because they wanted their
stories to be remembered. And many of us, unfortunately,
don’t know enough about women’s history and
these influential change makers who helped win the
vote for women. This exhibition will
tell their stories, will draw from the
collections of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy
Stone, Mary Church Terrell, Carrie Chapman Catt,
and organizations like the National Women’s Party and the National American
Women Suffrage Association. Through the personal collections of these extraordinary women
who’ve helped shape history, you’ll learn more about the
struggles and the challenges, even the divisions
in the movement. The Library of Congress’s
mission is to engage and inspire and inform the American people, and we know that this
exhibit will do just that. This is the largest
library in the world, and it’s been called
an extraordinary gift by the Congress to
the American people. And we want to make sure that
we deliver on that promise. This exhibition would
not have been possible without the support of
many generous donors. Of course, Congress and the
Library’s James Madison Council, with additional support
from 1st Financial Bank USA, the Democracy Fund, Mr. Thomas
Girardi, AARP [laughter], the Barbara Lee Family
Foundation Fund at the Boston Foundation,
the HISTORY® channel, and Roger and Julie Baskes. I’m also excited,
as a librarian, to show you this new book, which will be a companion
to the exhibition. It will be available for
visitors to purchase both at our gift shop and online. And it has beautiful
images from the exhibit that you can take
home and learn about. So I know many of you
will probably be posting on social media today. So please share your
stories and your photos with the hash tag
#shallnotbedenied. So a lot of people
also worked very hard to make this exhibition
possible. And the team was led by the
Library’s Center for Exhibits and Interpretation and its
director, Mr. David Mandel. So I’d like to have David
come up and tell you more about what you’ll
see in the exhibit. [ Applause ]>>Thank you, Dr. Hayden. Good morning, everyone, and thank you very much
for being here today. The Library’s exhibition draws
uniquely from the collections of the suffragists themselves
and the suffragist organizations and documents the
years-long struggle in pursuit of the right to vote. Our narrative grows from the
injustices that built a movement that spans 70 years and
explains the tactics developed by successive generations
to further the cause. It is a story of genuine
sacrifice, risk, and struggle. It is ultimately a story of
how the women we featured in the exhibit changed the
United States of America. The Library’s exhibition
program’s goal is to showcase our collections
through immersive, experiential spaces,
utilizing creative design and storytelling. For “Shall Not Be
Denied,” the design begins with large walls symbolizing
the barriers women faced. Artifact-rich alcoves
symbolize the private spaces where the movement
organized and developed. The main pathway through the
exhibit symbolizes the public spaces where the protests grew,
and the gallery’s walls come down as the exhibit
culminates in a plaza-like space as women made their voices heard
in the American public square. I’m especially happy that
our creative partners on this project, Pure+Applied
for exhibition design and Upswell for our introduction
video and interactive table, are women-owned businesses. Both firms brought a
real passion and energy to the project, and we think it
shows through in the exhibit, and we know you’ll let us know. I’d like to close with,
exhibitions are collaborations, and I’d like to acknowledge
the following. Our exhibit’s curator, Janice
Ruth and Elizabeth Novara, and from the Library’s Exhibits
Office, Carroll Johnson, Kim Curry, Betsy Nahum-Miller,
Karen Werth, Ray Leo, Dave Jung, Peter Bottger, Marc Roman,
Rachel Waldron, Patrick Shepler, Simonette dela Torre, Naomi
Coquillon, and Joon Yi. We look forward to you
seeing the exhibition soon, and thank you. [ Applause ]>>And thank you to David and your truly amazing
creative team. Now I have the opportunity to
introduce the next speaker, who really needs
no introduction. She is the longest-serving
female U.S. Senator in history. I think that deserves applause. [ Applause ] During her 40 years in Congress, she’s always been a strong
supporter of women’s issues, and now she’s the vice-chair of the Women’s Suffrage
Centennial Commission, which is leading the national
efforts to commemorate, educate, and celebrate the
centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment. Please welcome the Honorable
Senator Barbara Mikulski. [ Applause ]>>Good morning, everybody. [ Applause ] Well, as Dr. Hayden said, I’m retired United States
Senator Barbara Mikulski. Senators don’t retire, they
keep showing up and talking and talking and talking. It’s a thing with us. And it’s so great to be back
here at the Library of Congress. And it’s the Library “of”
Congress; it was never meant to be the library
“for” Congress. When Congress created
this great library, it’s so they themselves
would have access to books and the classics, as they
worked to invent democracy. But they didn’t want
to be the only holders of the repository of knowledge. And, of course, now under
the leadership of Dr. Hayden, it’s expanded its
great mission more. And today, we’re commemorating
or we’re announcing the fact that the one, next week we
will be opening the exhibit, “We Shall Not Be
Denied,” language taken from the 19th Amendment
that expanded democracy to the other half
of the population, the one that Abigail Adams
wrote her husband about and said don’t forget
the ladies. Well, they finally got
around to remembering, but only because of
this mass movement. What is so exciting
about this exhibit is that it is, yes, educational. Yes, it’s done in an exciting
way, but it’s also inclusive. We will, in this exhibit, own
the entire narrative of suffrage and the entire narrative of
all of those who participated, people of all backgrounds,
of races, and ethnicities. It reflects what the Women’s
Suffrage Centennial Commission, of which I’m a member,
wanted to do. The Commission was created by
Congress at the leadership, initiated the women
of the Senate so that we could
commemorate the centennial of the 19th Amendment, but we
wanted to be able to remember so that we could reflect and
re-empower what this means. Because we believe that in
order for democracy to work, we have to work at democracy
and remember our own background. This exhibit is part of a
larger commemorative effort that is already underway. National cultural institutions
like the Portrait Gallery, the Archives — the National
Archives have already launched their exhibit. On May 21st, the House passed
the, once again, the resolution on the 19th Amendment. On June 4th, the Senate
will also commemorate that anniversary. And there will be the
race to the states. All other federal agencies,
including Treasury, Interior, the Park Service,
are participating. So that’s the data. But why is it important? Students sometimes say,
why should I study history. Well, we study history to
better know who we are, to know who we are as a
country and as a nation, because history is part,
is our national identity. This particular commemoration
enables us to own the entire narrative
of all who participated, some well known, some
rarely, if ever, known. The movement of women’s suffrage
is the story of America, its law, its character, and
its never-ending efforts to expand democracy. What we will see in this exhibit
is that it educates, it edifies, and hopefully, it inspires
because it tells the story of courage, persistence,
and sacrifice. We’ll learn the history of past
brave, the bravery of women, and we will also
hear the stories of the great men
who supported us. We’re also going to take a
look at the false reasons that were given to exclude women
of all races and ethnicities so that we can learn never, ever
to repeat those mistakes again. We are commemorating
women’s suffrage, as I said, to remember the past, what it
means today, and to empower and inspire the next generation. Again, what we hope to
do is by remembering, we continue to expand democracy. I would like now to introduce
Janice Ruth, who is the curator of this, and the acting
chief of the Library of Congress Manuscript Division. Dr. Ruth is really an
outstanding scholar in her own right, and she
has put together, I think, something that’s going to be
a blockbuster of an exhibit. So, Dr. Ruth, won’t you
please come up and take over while I get off this
good old stool [laughter]. [ Applause ]>>Thank you, Senator. Good morning. It is so thrilling to see
all of you here today. On behalf of the many Library
staff who worked with me on this exhibit, I want
to thank you for coming. We greatly appreciate
your interest in helping us share this
remarkable story of courage, perseverance, creativity,
and hope on the part of multiple generations
of women fighting for that most fundamental right of a participatory
democracy, the right to vote. The long and arduous struggle
for women’s suffrage is one of the best documented and
most widely researched topics in American women’s history. That historians know
as much as we do about the suffrage campaign
is due in large part to the foresight, to the
participants’ conscious efforts to record their movement’s
history and to the foresight with which many archival
repositories collected the materials. The Library of Congress
was at the forefront of this collecting effort and over the years has
amassed what is arguably one of the nation’s strongest
collections on the topic. Generations of scholars asking
different questions frequently return to these collections
and probe them in new ways to enhance our understanding of this complex multi-faceted
movement. The friendships and the
personal connections that sustained the suffrage
movement itself also aided in the preservation
of its history. In 1903, Librarian of Congress
Ainsworth Rand Spofford convinced his friend,
Susan B. Anthony, to donate her collection of
books and other printed matter to the National Library. Anthony’s personal papers
followed many years later, donated by her niece, to
the Manuscript Division. Spofford and his
wife, as it turns out, were good friends
also with Lucy Stone and her husband Henry Blackwell. The Blackwell papers were first
solicited as early as 1915 by then Manuscript Division
chief, John C. Fitzpatrick. It would take another 46 years
before they were received as a gift from suffrage
archivist Edna Stantial to whom Alice Stone
Blackwell had bequeathed them. Alice had been told by suffrage
leader Carrie Chapman Catt the papers of the Blackwell
family are too valuable to repose in a college library. The Library of Congress
should be your first choice. People will come from
all over the world just to see the files there. Catt herself had donated her
book collection to the Library, but when asked for her own
papers in January 1918, she put Fitzpatrick off. Yeah, we’re kind
of busy [laughter]. Actually, she graciously
responded. As she said, “At
the present moment, I do not think we
have sufficient time to prepare any suitable deposit
for the Library of Congress. We are hopeful and expectant that our movement is
nearly at an end.” Sadly, it would take two
and a half more years for the 19th Amendment
to be ratified. These kinds of exchanges and acquisition efforts would
be repeated year after year. As a result, the
personal papers of many of the leading participants —
and Dr. Hayden alluded to many of them, so I won’t, I won’t
go over those, the names again, but well-known names as well as
some names that probably aren’t as familiar to you — have
come into the Library. We’re gradually digitizing
many of them, making them available
worldwide online. And in connection
with this exhibit, we’re also launching a
crowdsourcing transcription project so that we can
further people’s engagement with these wonderful materials. In addition to the personal
papers, as Dr. Hayden mentioned, we also have the records of the two principle
national organizations, the National American
Women’s Suffrage Association, which goes by the acronym NAWSA,
and the National Women’s Party, or NWP, which is best known
for its pioneering use of picketing the White
House in the campaign. As you walk through the exhibit, you will see pioneering
feminist books that inspired the suffragists. I mean, these ideas
just didn’t spring forth in 1848 at Seneca Falls. So in today’s parlance, you
see the earliest influencers. Right? Take a moment, if
you would, to read some of the passages of these
letters, the unique letters that the Library
of Congress has. Abigail Adams telling her sister
that she will never consent to have her sex consigned
in an inferior light. Lucretia Mott, quite frankly,
dishing the dirt a little bit on the other women in the
movement and frustrated with the Grimkés, you
know, that they were kind of a flash-in-the-pan
in her mind. Susan B. Anthony, pushing
Elizabeth Cady Stanton to write a speech on
equal education for women, despite the fact, she said, oh, it doesn’t matter you
have a baby on your knee and your four boys are
buzzing around you. Get to the task. The reputation of womanhood
is depending on you. Nellie Quander of Howard
University writing to ask if African American women
were going to be welcome in the March 3, 1913, parade. Also worth a look in the exhibit
are affidavits describing the suffragist’s harsh treatment
in jail and being force-fed all in protest for the
right to vote. Rare printed versions of the
1848 Declaration of Sentiments and the 1876 Declaration
of Rights for Women. We’re very fortunate, our friends at the Belmont-Paul
National Women’s Equality site has loaned us the bust
of Susan B. Anthony. This is a bust that Anthony
herself had hoped Congress would buy to install in the
Thomas Jefferson building. So I’m so thrilled
Susan gets her wish for the duration
of this exhibit. We have cartoons, hand
bills, a cookbook, a doll, other suffrage merchandize. So you can really see how this
proliferated and was pervasive in American society, particularly in that
last decade. A sash and buttons. You can get into
the personal story. You can look at a sash and
buttons of a suffragist picket by the name of Cora Week who,
you look at her photograph and there’s a petite woman,
an artist by occupation, defiantly staring into the
camera as she heads off with the picket line
to the White House where she would shortly be
arrested and later be part of the group that experienced
the “Night of Terror” at Occoquan Workhouse. Lastly, to be sure, be
sure to listen to the some of the suffrage songs. We have a wonderful sheet music
collection and recordings here at the Library, as
well as the stories that suffragist Mabel Vernon
shared in an oral history. Find your home state on the
tabletop interactive and find out who a couple of the prominent
suffragists were in your area. Watch the early film footage
taken of suffrage parades, but also the modern
clips of those who have continued
the inspiring fight for women’s political equality. Next up on the agenda today, I’m
very pleased to introduce you to Elaine Weiss, author of
two books, “Fruits of Victory: The Women’s Land Army
in the Great War,” and now her best-selling
book, “The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win
the Vote,” which is soon to be a major television event. Elaine’s going to share with
you her personal journey through the Library’s
suffrage collections. And I’m looking forward to hearing you tell us what
you found most interesting.>>Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Good morning. Good morning. You know, if you ask a
researcher why they choose to spend their days
— can you hear me — why they choose to
spend their days alone, pouring over manuscripts
and sometimes dusty books, and crouched over a
desk, they’ll tell you, it’s the thrill of the hunt, and
it’s the thrill of discovery. And I think we’re about to
experience some of that thrill as we are able to preview this
extraordinary new exhibit. I’m very excited about it. It will give us a tantalizing
taste of the vast holdings that we’ve heard about described of the Library’s holdings
chronicling this amazing reform movement that we call the
women’s suffrage movement. It’s really the primary source
for anyone who is studying or writing about this
extraordinary effort to both challenge societal norms
and women’s role and rights in America and also to
expand our democracy in a way it had never
been before. The suffrage movement
is really one of the pivotal civil
rights struggles in our nation’s history,
and it’s the story of grassroots activists
organizing to win political
freedom for half of the citizens of the nation. It spans more than seven
decades and three generations of fearless activists
participating in more than 900 campaigns at the state,
local, and national level. Both the historical
arch of the movement and the nitty-gritty
details are here, kept safe and available at the Library. And I was lucky enough to
discover this treasure trove and fortunate enough to be able
to use it to write my book. That book, “The Woman’s
Hour,” — and the meaning of the title
is actually embedded here in the Library — was born right
here in the Library of Congress, and it was nurtured here. It began with what
might be called a moment of serendipity in the stacks. I was researching something
completely different. This happens a lot. I was reading a document in
the Library’s collection. It was an old, obscure,
hundred-page report on how a bequest to the suffrage
movement had been spent. I’m trained as a journalist. I know to follow the money. And there at about the
three-quarter mark, I found an anecdote that
would become the dramatic core of my book. I’d never heard about it before. It was an account of the battle
for the last state needed to ratify the 19th Amendment
in the summer of 1920. That happened to be Tennessee. It was a wild and colorful
and dramatic story. And it was here, and
I stumbled upon it. I wasn’t looking for it, but
I was very grateful for it. And that surprise find
became a magic door for me, entering into world of women
activists and lobbyists and politicians and protesters. These amazing, powerful, and
empowered women in an era when women were stifled. The library then provided me
with the sophisticated tools and deep resources to tell
the story on a granular level. The subject files and
collection manifests, you know, the sort of, almost, you
might consider them boring, but they are so important
to a researcher. And I could read those in the
comfort of my home on my laptop because they are
available online. And that is great gift
to any researcher. I could delve into the
manuscript collection, the papers, as you’ve heard,
of the various collections, the day-by-day workings of their
offices and of their organizers and how these organizations
evolved, how they stumbled,
how they persevered. And that’s an important
lesson for us. I was able to read those
letters of both the leaders and the foot soldiers we had
never heard about before. I learned to decipher
strange handwriting. And that was really important, seeing those handwritten
documents, the letters, the speeches, the reports,
the diaries, the travel logs, even the Christmas cards. Who these women exchanged
Christmas cards with can be very telling. Again, looking at the
handwriting, the underlines, the exclamation points, even
the misspellings, give a sense of character and of
their state of mind. And I wanted readers to be
able to understand these women in a full sense, as people, as actors in a great
historical movement, not just historical footnotes. And the resources of
the Library was the only and the best way
for me to do that. I looked at many of
these manuscripts in the Madison building across
the street, but I was also able to order them on
interlibrary loan and read them in my university library. Yes, you do get cross-eyed
looking at the microfilm after a while, but it
provided me with amazing depth and texture to create
my narrative. I used the photograph collection to see what my characters
looked like, what they wore, what hats they enjoyed. I could see the scenes
of important events. I could see the anger on the
faces of the men and boys who attacked the suffragists
in that 1913 march right down Pennsylvania
Avenue in 1913. I could see how Warren
Harding crossed his arms when he pretended to be
listening to the women. I could see the twinkle in
Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s eye, the moral gravitas in
Frederick Douglass’s face, the defiant posture of
Alice Paul’s pickets at the White House gates. I used the newspapers, the LOC’s
amazing Chronicling America project, which digitizes
small-town papers and big city papers
over decades. It was extremely valuable because I could then
tell a day-by-day account of how the nation was looking at
this historic event transpiring in Nashville, Tennessee. I found some great and
valuable surprises. Alice Paul’s bounced checks. This gave me great
insight into the challenges of financing the movement. Carrie Catt’s poignant letters
to her friends while she was on the road, the great
suffrage warrior who was on the road most
of her adult life. First Lady Edith
Wilson’s angry rants against women’s suffragists, while she was running the
White House and the government. And then Warren Harding’s steamy
love letters to his mistress, which are online and
available for reading. And during this time, Warren
Harding was being blackmailed by this mistress during his
presidential campaign of 1920, he was paying hush
money to keep her quiet. And it added an important new
dimension in his equivocating on the 19th Amendment. The exhibit we’re about to
experience now, some of the gems of the Library’s collection, tell a story that’s not just
an historical curiosity. It is surprisingly and, I think, even unnervingly,
relevant today. It deals with issues in
our headlines right now, voting rights and voter
suppression, women’s rights, inequality, dark money and
politics, the role of religion in public policy, and
racism because the story of women’s suffrage is
inevitably a story about race. And there are moral compromises
made, and we are still living with those consequences, and we need to learn
valuable lessons from that. In a broader sense, this exhibit
asks important questions. When we say, “We the
people,” do we mean everyone? And do we, as a nation, are we brave enough
to embrace democracy? We’re still asking
those questions, and I think the treasurers
of the Library of Congress help us answer them
and understand where we’ve been and where we are today. Thank you very much. [ Applause ]>>Wow. I have to say,
thank you, Elaine, because you have given
testimony to what can happen when the treasure chest
that is the Library of Congress is made available and accessible online
and in person. So thank you. You even brought up a few
things I didn’t know about. And now I want to
read more about it. And that’s what we’re hoping
that by having this exhibit that people will want to explore
more, that they’re going to find out more, and they’re
going to read more. So thank you so much. So now after hearing so much about the exhibition,
it’s time to see it. And, again, please use the
hash tag #shallnotbedenied when you post on social media. And thank you, again, for
coming, and thank you, members of the Library’s team
that brought this together, Janice Ruth, the people
who collect and preserve and make the materials
available. You see what happens, and
you’ve heard what happens when those things come together. Senator Mikulski, wow. Keep fighting. And, of course, David Mandel,
who makes it all come alive. So thank you, and let’s go look. [ Applause ] [ Music ]

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