Women’s Right to Vote
Westford Historical Society and Museum
in partnership with the
League of Women Voters of Westford
February 10th: Book reading and talk by Barbara Berenson
Votes for Women: Massachusetts Leaders in the Woman Suffrage Movement
Barbara Berenson, author of Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement: Revolutionary Reformers, will discuss the woman suffrage movement and give local suffragists the attention they deserve. Massachusetts was at the center of the national struggle for woman suffrage. Long before the Civil War, Lucy Stone and other abolitionists launched the organized women’s movement at the first National Woman’s Rights Convention, held in Worcester. After the war, state activists founded the Boston-based American Woman Suffrage Association to lead campaigns across the country. Their work laid the foundation for the next generation of suffragists to triumph over tradition. Berenson will also address the battle over historical memory that long obscured the state’s leading role.
February 27: After Suffrage
A 20/20 Perspective on Women’s Rights, 1920 – 2020
Barbara Berenson’s second talk will address women’s rights after they finally achieved access to the ballot in 1920. How have women fared politically and legally over the past century? Berenson will consider how women activists have built alliances and shaped laws in an effort to combat stereotypes, discrimination, and gender-based violence at home, at work, and in the public sphere. She will review some of the key developments over the past century and include a discussion of the long and still-ongoing campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment. She will also discuss the historical connections between women who opposed suffrage and those who oppose women’s rights today.
March 6: “I Can’t Die but Once”
performance by Gwendolyn Quezaire-Presutti:
Living History performance of Harriet Tubman.Tubman believed in the equality of all people, black or white, male or female, which made her sympathetic to the women’s rights movement. Tubman’s role was not that of a leader but that of a strong supporter. As a woman who had fought for her own freedom and the freedom of others, Tubman set to work with her friends by touring and giving speeches about her own experiences as a female slave and as the liberator of hundreds born under the bondage of slavery. She described her years as “Moses” and the impact she had to those who found freedom. She toured New York, Boston and Washington speaking in favor of women’s suffrage rights.
March 19: “I Now Pronounce You Lucy Stone”
performance by Judith Kalaora.
In this fiery presentation, Lucy describes the tension of Antebellum Boston.. Women were evolving from successful abolitionists to struggling suffragists! Challenging discrimination is not easy; Lucy Stone was never one to take the easy road. The first woman from Massachusetts to earn a college degree, Lucy was an ardent supporter of human rights. Always fierce, her belief that women and men be equal was evident in both her political and personal endeavors. Her message inspired thousands to join the suffrage movement; even Susan B. Anthony credits Lucy’s impassioned speeches for her involvement. As a scholar, Lucy studied Greek and Hebrew, insisting that ancient scriptures had been mistranslated to objectify women. As a wife, Lucy refused to take her husband’s name, becoming the first to do so in the nation, and leading to the moniker of “Lucy Stoner” to describe a woman who does just that! Lucy and her comrades were evolving from successful abolitionists to struggling suffragists. Their fight was ferocious, so come along for the ride! Suitable for all ages.
May 22: “I want to go to Jail” performance A one-act play written by Pamela Swing and Erika Dabanka
“I Want to go to Jail” transports you back to February, 1919, when women suffragists grappled with unexpected obstacles in their quest for the final vote needed to pass the suffrage amendment. They were arrested for picketing President Wilson at the Boston State House and served time in the Charles Street Jail. These were the last arrests of the suffrage movement.