Of course, the history of American women’s suffrage is much more complex than this date alone. For one thing, many women voted before they were legally able to, like the three women below in 1917. Some were infamously arrested, like Susan B. Anthony, but others, like Mary Ann Shadd Cary (below), were successful.
“Calm about it. At Fifty-sixth and Lexington Avenue, the women voters showed no ignorance or trepidation, but cast their ballots in a businesslike way that bespoke study of suffrage.” National Photo Company Collection (Library of Congress). National Photo Company Collection / Public domain
If you have a chance to see this exhibit before it closes on Jan. 5 — make your way to the Bard Graduate Gallery! The interplay and tension of war and fashion for French women and the overarching concepts are phenomenal! The exhibit opened on Sept. 5 and was curated by Maude Bass-Krueger and Sophie Kurkdjian. This review will highlight some of the sections and objects on view.
The exhibit begs the question in its opening text:
“What happened during the four years of the war [1914-1918] to create such a vivid shift in fashion, and what impact did this shift have on French women?”
There are several reasons why this month’s post will focus on the fascinating Inez Milholland. Not only did her efforts as part of the women’s suffrage movement inspire many, she also became a lawyer – a highly unlikely profession for a female — and was celebrated for her efforts during her lifetime as well as considered a martyr after her death! The interesting tie-in for fashion is in her stylish clothing and the change in attitude in Vogue‘s pages while covering the suffragette movement and Milholland.
In honor of the Women’s March that took place this month on January 24, 2018, I thought it would be only fitting to highlight some pieces of Women’s Suffrage jewelry and accessories. The chief concern of the suffragettes, and in fact, the definition of the word, was to obtain the right to vote through organized protest. Women had been campaigning for the right to vote since before the American Civil War, both in the United States and abroad, but it wasn’t until the early 20th century that the movement gained serious traction. Most of the examples of suffragette jewelry and accessories I’ve found are from the United States and the United Kingdom, but of course, there have been suffrage movements throughout the world and are likely other such global examples of accessories as well. Two museums in particular with great collections of these objects are the National Museum of American History and the Museum of London. The Museum of London is currently exhibiting “Votes for Women,” iconic objects from their Suffragette collection, Feb. 2, 2018 – Jan. 6, 2019, and is available to view online here.
“Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait For Liberty” reads the sign held by the suffragette in front of the White House during the 1917 women’s protest. Her A-line skirt, low heeled shoes, and lightly adorned hat convey a sense of practical femininity. She is in keeping with the trends of the 19-teens but with sensible modifications for a woman with an agenda.