News Article

One Hundred Years Ago They Won the Vote: National Archives Nationwide Initiative Honors the Struggle

May 1, 2019

Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote, opens May 10, 2019

In celebration of the centennial of women’s suffrage, the National Archives will launch an 18-month nationwide initiative, Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote. The initiative brings the story of the Women’s Suffrage Movement to life through the following:

  • A flagship exhibit in Washington, D.C.
  • Public programming across the country
  • A national traveling exhibit
  • Educational resources for students and teachers
  • The digitization of National Archives suffrage-related records.

The Washington, D.C. exhibit, opening on May 10, 2019, will chronicle the experiences of a diverse group of suffragists. Through photos, records, objects, and historical footage, viewers will see how courageous women raised their voices against hardened opposition. The exhibit features the original 19th Amendment that granted millions of women the right to vote (on limited display, check back for dates).

“The story of American women seeking full citizenship rights remains relevant a century later,” said Chair Emerita of the National Archives Foundation A’Lelia Bundles. “This exhibit highlights well known suffrage documents that are unique to the Archives, while also introducing the less famous, but equally fascinating, historical people and moments that make the struggle for equality and democracy come alive.”

In addition to examining the battle for voting rights up to 1920, Rightfully Hers looks beyond the landmark victory to the struggle of women of color and minority women who were excluded from the voting polls even after the constitutional victory. The exhibit’s voter education and registration component is designed to allow visitors to exercise their civic responsibilities within our nation’s democracy.

“The National Archives Foundation is incredibly proud of this initiative. Our mission is to connect the past to the present, using history as a tool to inspire citizens to engage in government today,” said Chair of the National Archives Foundation Governor James Blanchard. “Rightfully Hers is a great example of our mission in action.”

The National Archives launched the traveling exhibit, One Half of the People, in April 2019. Taking women’s history on the road, the traveling exhibit will visit states across the country through 2022, thus local, state-level stories of the Women’s Suffrage Movement will be featured as part of the centennial celebration. To support this local programming, the National Archives is digitizing each state’s 19th Amendment ratification document and the National Archives Foundation is working collaboratively with the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).

Secretaries of State are thrilled to be participating in this meaningful centennial initiative,” said Jim Condos, NASS President and Vermont Secretary of State. “Our members have worked with the National Archives, their own state libraries and archives, and others in their respective communities to commemorate the significance of the women’s suffrage movement. States have interesting and unique stories to tell about their road to suffrage and we are excited to share and continue to learn from these stories.”

“Almost 100 years ago, the 19th Amendment became law, prohibiting states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex,” said Deputy Archivist of the United States, Debra Steidel Wall. “We are proud to commemorate this important anniversary at the National Archives through the Rightfully Hers exhibit and through many activities and programs scheduled over the next 18 months. This cornerstone exhibit uses our records to illustrate the dynamic involvement of American women across the spectrum of race, ethnicity, and class to reveal what it really took to win the vote for one half of the people.”

The Rightfully Hers exhibit is free and open to the public, and will be on display in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C.

Press preview for National Archives’ Rightfully Hers Exhibit on May 7 at 9:00 a.m. RSVP to

Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote was created by the exhibits staff at the National Archives Museum and presented in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of Unilever, Pivotal Ventures, Carl M. Freeman Foundation in honor of Virginia Allen Freeman, AARP, AT&T, Ford Motor Company Fund, Facebook, Barbara Lee Family Foundation Fund at the Boston Foundation, Google, HISTORY ®, and Jacqueline B. Mars.

One Half of the People: Advancing Equality for Women is organized by the National Archives and Records Administration, and traveled by the National Archives Traveling Exhibits Services (NATES). This exhibition was developed in collaboration with the National Archives’ Rightfully Hers National Outreach Initiative to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment. It is presented in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of Unilever, Pivotal Ventures, Carl M. Freeman Foundation in honor of Virginia Allen Freeman, and AARP. Additional support provided by AT&T, Facebook, and FedEx.