Playing the Past: The 1913 Women's Suffrage Parade

Written by: Hayley Prihoda, Assistant Curator of Education

The DAR Museum recently launched a new educational program for Junior Girl Scouts called “Playing the Past: The 1913 Women’s Suffrage Parade”!  Just in time for Women’s History Month, the program celebrates the participants of the 1913 Women’s Suffrage Parade and the earlier suffragists who made their work possible. Did you know this topic is particularly relevant in DAR history? Following the parade on March 3, 1913, the suffragists congregated here, at DAR’s Memorial Continental Hall, for the evening’s final rally.  

DAR Museum staff welcomed 17 Junior Girl Scouts at our first “Playing the Past” event. To earn the official Girl Scouts “Playing the Past” badge, the Girl Scout must dream up a character for herself as a girl or woman who lived in another time period – encouraging them to “live” history as that character as they learn about the time period. The DAR Museum is proud to be a Community Program Partner with the Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital and provide these educational opportunities to young girls in our community.

We started the afternoon traveling back in time by reading Elizabeth Started All the Trouble (a picture book we highly recommend for introducing young audiences to the topic of women’s suffrage). We followed with the tale from Abigail Adams’ famous “Remember the Ladies!” to the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Among other notable women, the girls learned about Sojourner Truth and Susan B. Anthony, who both tried to cast their votes, and Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, who started their own clinic for women and children.  

When we reached 1913 in our time travels, we turned our attention to primary sources. The Library of Congress has an amazing collection of photographs and ephemera from the Women’s Suffrage Parade. The girls considered what it would be like to attend the parade. What would you see? What would you hear? What would you smell? We discussed the crowded, sometimes violent conditions and the bravery of the women that marched on.

The day of the program we had beautiful weather and we were able to step outside on the roof of the Memorial Continental Hall Portico to view the 1913 parade route first-hand! Marchers started at the Capitol, headed up Pennsylvania Avenue, and ended at the Treasury Building next to the White House. These landmarks and streets are still the same as in 1913, giving us a unique ability to step back in time.

The “Playing the Past” badge encourages the Girl Scouts to create an accessory that a girl or woman would wear at that time. We decided to create our own “Votes for Women” sashes! We selected the colors yellow and purple in honor of DAR member, Alice Paul’s organization of the Women’s Suffrage Parade and her leadership of the National Woman’s Party. Check out these pictures to see how the girls add their own flare to this iconic emblem of the women’s suffrage movement.

We finished off our afternoon by exploring Memorial Continental Hall and the DAR Library, where the rally was held 104 years ago. We read aloud speeches by famous suffragists and discussed their content. How did these women argue their point? Do you think they made a successful argument? Finally, it was the girls’ opportunity to share their ideas. We asked, “Why is the right to vote important to you?”  The Girl Scouts spent the last couple minutes writing their opinions on “Votes for Women” postcards that were first printed in 1913. It was so fun to hear all their unique, vibrant perspectives.

We loved sharing the story of the 1913 Women’s Suffrage Parade with these intelligent, curious Girl Scouts and we hope to share more stories in the future! Our upcoming program dates are: April 29, May 13, and June 3. If you would like to learn more about our Girl Scout programming, please see our website. Tickets can also be purchased through Eventbrite by searching DAR Museum. Feel free to email us at museum@dar.org with questions. 

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