We are transforming the West County Museum into Suffrage Headquarters reminiscent of the late 1890’s with a blast of purple, yellow and white. These were the official colors of the suffrage movement and these colors were seen during parades, marches, conventions and meetings from 1848 – 1920. There will be a timeline of key events and examples of the suffrage movement’s marketing tactics, along with information on the founding women of the movement to help us tell the story.
A display of trunks and luggage with period clothing gives visitors a visual idea of the traveling speakers who stopped in Sebastopol and held informational meetings. We will remember our local women Maude Churchman Wheeler, Althea Faught, and Helen Hurlbut who spoke in support of the Votes for Women cause.
Sebastopol City Councilman Michael Carnacchi provided a collection of authentic artifacts for our display. These items give us an insight into the complex subject of women’s suffrage and include a signed letter from Frances Willard, president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, an Autograph Album dated 1871-1873, and a souvenir from Swarthmore College founded by Lucretia Mott.
The suffrage cause needed printed matter to promote and distribute its information. We have an invoice and check which paid for printing paper and ink used by the National Women’s Suffrage Association and signed by its founder, Susan B. Anthony. We also have some Woman’s Journal editions whose editor and founder Lucy Stone famously spread the quotation “taxation without representation is tyranny.”
We are displaying the 18-foot long Suffrage banner. This banner is a replica of the one sewn by Alice Paul on which stars were placed to represent each state that ratified the 19th Amendment.
We also feature a replica of a 1913 costume which the suffragettes wore in the Washington DC parade. This parade was the mastermind of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, the first of its kind to be held in front of the US Capitol. The parade was politically motivated by Alice Paul’s statement, “we march in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded.” Columbia, the female national personification of the United States, wears the costume in the 1913 parade. The costume on display, at our Museum, was made by Ellen Bowen, using natural fiber materials to keep it most like the original. Ellen Bowen was contacted in 2019 and asked if she would be interested in being in the Apple Blossom Parade as our leader of Suffrage walkers in the 2020 parade. Ellen Bower was supposed to be in costume representing Columbia who participated in the 1913 Washington, D.C. parade which Alice Paul organized. While the Apple Blossom Parade was canceled due to COVID19, that idea did not end. Columbia will be staged in the West County Museum Suffrage Headquarters’ exhibit to be a part of the Suffrage story.
We will also give an opportunity for citizens to register to vote or make changes to their registration.
The Museum gift shop has Suffrage related items including t-shirts with “Votes for Women” and a centennial button you will find only here.
Three books will be available at the Museum:
- How We Won the Vote in California by Selina Solomons, a true story of the Campaign of 1911.
- Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait? by Tina Cassidy. The story of Alice Paul, Woodrow Wilson, and the Fight for the Right to Vote.
- The Secret History of Wonder Woman, by Jill Lepore. A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the story of Wonder Woman, one of the world’s most iconic superheroes, and hiding within it a fascinating family narrative and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism.
Events of the next few months should be of interest to students and scholars young and old.
The SUFFRAGE HEADQUARTERS Grand Opening is postponed until further notice.