Ordinary Equality – New Book & Exhibit Highlight DAR Members During Suffrage Era

Written by: Tracy Robinson, DAR Director of Archives and History
June 13, 2019

In celebration of the Centennial Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the NSDAR Archives is releasing a book as well as a special exhibit highlighting some of the DAR members who made an impact during this transformative era. The exhibit, Ordinary Equality: DAR Members and the Road to Women’s Suffrage, 1890-1920, will be on display in the Americana Room and the book by the same name will be available from The DAR Store.

On August 26, 1920, American women were granted the right to vote through the certification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The new amendment signaled the end of a long struggle that officially began with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 in upstate New York.

Coming on the heels of the wasteful and indulgent Gilded Age, the Progressive Era was a period marked by a movement of widespread social activism in the United States. The main objectives of the movement, which spanned from approximately 1890 to 1920, included eliminating problems caused by industrialization and urbanization.

The time period is remembered for increased opportunities for women’s and children’s education, the founding of women’s clubs, health and safety reform in the areas of housing and medicine, an increase in philanthropic efforts, and mobilization on the home front to provide aid during both the Spanish-American War and World War I.

Many women in the Progressive Era used the opportunities provided by advances in industrialization and a growing societal acceptance of educated, working women to engage enthusiastically in reform activities. These efforts not only won women more rights, but also improved living conditions, education, and quality of life for millions of American men, women, and children.

On the national level, plans to commemorate the upcoming 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage include exhibits, events, and special programs sponsored by a variety of museums, nonprofits, and other organizations. The DAR has chosen to highlight the accomplishments of a very select group of DAR members who were active in reform activities during the Progressive Era and helped make the dream of women's voting rights a reality. Featured are Red Cross founder Clara Barton, Hull House co-founder Jane Addams, and suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul along with dozens of other fascinating women.

DAR members attending the 128th Continental Congress will get the first look at the new exhibit, which then opens to the public July 1, 2019. The book Ordinary Equality: DAR Members and the Road to Women’s Suffrage, 1890—1920 will be available for sale in The DAR Store starting the week of Congress. In addition, a special presentation on the topic will be delivered during the Saturday Afternoon Business Session on June 29, 2019, which can also be viewed on the Congress Live Stream for those unable to attend in person.

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