For suffragists like Sarah J. Smith Tompkins Garnet and our former senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, New York played a big part in the fight for women’s rights. In New York, The Lily became the first newspaper for women, where Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote under the name “Sunflower.” In The Lily, suffragists wrote about temperance, child bearing, and even dress reform. Women were encouraged to wear knee-length dresses with pants, later known as the “Bloomer costume,” named after the paper’s editor Amelia Bloomer. And while women’s suffrage was legalized nationwide in 1920, women in New York took to the voting booths three years earlier when they successfully earned the right to vote.
To celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage in the state, the Museum of the City of New York’s new exhibit focuses on New York’s contributions to the women’s rights movement. The exhibition will chronicle the struggle leading up to women’s suffrage in 1917 and through the 2016 presidential campaign. Divided into four periods, it will feature Eleanor Roosevelt’s handwritten speech from 1932, a signed Shirley Chisholm campaign poster, and one of Clinton’s pantsuits among other photos, costumes, and ephemera. The exhibit also looks to the future with an interactive installation that will prompt visitors to voice their opinions on issues women face today. Beyond Suffrage: A Century of New York Women in Politics opens this week and is on display until July 22, 2018.