New-York Historical Society celebrates centenary of women’s suffrage in the state

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Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress

Today, 6 November, is the centenary of women’s suffrage in the State of New York. The New-York Historical Society is marking the occasion with the exhibition Hotbed (until 25 March), which shakes up the narrative of the US women’s suffrage movement by looking at radical activists in early 20th-century Greenwich Village. Although they are often grouped with their 19th-century foremothers, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as first-wave feminists, “these women in the 20th century were completely different in attitude and perspective from the 19th-century ‘grandmas’ that were fighting for the same thing”, says the show’s curator, Valerie Paley. “They were young, they were modern, they were sexy, and they were using their own initiative to breathe new life into the movement.” Many of the objects on show document the publicity stunts by activists such as Dorothy Newell, who caused a stir in 1915 by painting “votes for women” on her exposed back. The show also positions the suffrage movement “as part of a larger movement for radical change”, Paley explains, including labour reform, birth control and racial justice.

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