Sneak peek at the new women’s suffrage exhibit at Vulcan Park & Museum, opening Jan 17

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Right or Privilege? Alabama Women and the Vote
A sneak peek at the new exhibit at Vulcan Park & Museum. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Each year, Vulcan Park & Museum hosts a new exhibit in their fabulous Linn-Henley Gallery. Since 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, Vulcan Park & Museum will honor the fight for women’s suffrage with a new exhibit,”Right or Privilege? Alabama Women and the Vote” which opens on January 17.

The Struggle for Suffrage in Alabama

Women's Suffrage
Woman registering to vote with federal examiners at the Fort Charles Henderson Armory in Troy, Alabama, 1966. Photo via Alabama Department of Archives and History

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Although women fought for suffrage as early as 1848, it took over seven decades before they gained the right to vote. After decades of stalling, Congress finally passed the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution on June 4, 1919. After Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920, Congress officially adopted the amendment on August 26, granting women the right to vote across the country.

Honoring Alabama’s Suffragettes

Vulcan Park and Museum exhibit
Women working in downtown Birmingham’s suffrage headquarters. Photo via Birmingham Public Library Archives & Manuscripts

Vulcan Park & Museum has partnered with local organizations to celebrate the 2020 centennial in special ways. Right or Privilege will highlight 19 women who impacted voting rights in Alabama, such as:

For instance, Pattie Ruffner Jacobs was a suffragist in Birmingham in the early 1900s. She was deeply involved with movements to reshape Birmingham as the industrial center of the New South, and fought against child labor and convict leasing. After hearing a talk by nationally known reformer Jane Addams, Pattie decided that women’s suffrage was required to enact these reforms. So, she formed the Birmingham Equal Suffrage Association and eventually went on to be involved in the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the National League of Women Voters.

Vulcan Park and Museum exhibit
Women’s suffrage booth at state fair, Birmingham, Alabama, 1914. Photo via Alabama Department of Archives and History.

What Will You See at the Exhibit?

Right or Privilege? Alabama Women and the Vote
Right or Privilege? gives biographies of several prominent Alabama suffragettes. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

The exhibit tells the story of Alabama’s suffragettes through historic artifacts, photographs and literature. In addition, the exhibit will showcase oral history excerpts from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Oral History Project Collection. This collection will launch its digital platform in conjunction with Vulcan Park & Museum’s exhibit.

Right or Privilege? Alabama Women and the Vote
This display has an Alabama Equal Suffrage Association Scrapbook. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Furthermore, the exhibit is connected to several lectures, a play and film discussion events throughout the year.

“This exhibit will commemorate this milestone of democracy in our country and explore the relevance of it today. It’s an opportunity for us to have a local conversation about the contributions of women not only in the past but here in the present.”

Jennifer Watts, Director of Museum Programs, Vulcan Park & Museum

Here Are the Details

As with every exhibit at Vulcan Park & Museum, admission to the exhibit is included with your general admission ticket to the museum.

Don’t worry–you have plenty of time to visit this exhibit. Right or Privilege? will stay in the Linn-Henley Gallery from January 17, 2020 until January 3, 2021.

  • Tickets:
    • Adults (ages 13+): $6
    • Seniors (65+) and Military: $5
    • Children (age 5-12): $4
    • Children 4 years and under: FREE

Excited about Vulcan Park & Museum’s new exhibit? Share your thoughts by tagging @bhamnow on social media.

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  • Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.