Senator Gillibrand Tours Adirondack Suffragist Exhibit In Elizabethtown
The Adirondack History Museum in Elizabethtown has opened a new exhibit, “Adirondack Suffragists: 100 Years of Votes for Women.” On Thursday morning, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand toured multimedia displays showing not only women’s efforts to gain the vote, and racial and anti-suffragette perspectives.
Senator Gillibrand is celebrating passage of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission Act. Signed into law by President Donald Trump, the measure will provide grants to create educational programs about the women’s suffrage movement and to celebrate the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.
The Adirondack History Museum in Elizabethtown is marking the centennial of the milestone in New York with a multimedia exhibit on Adirondack suffragists. Among those highlighted is Inez Milholland, an icon of the suffrage movement, who is buried a few miles from the museum.
Retired history teacher and museum trustee Margaret Bartley walked Gillibrand through the exhibit and the senator often stopped to peer intently at the displays. Democrat placed a ballot The in an antique ballot box and briefly donned a suffrage sash. “We tried to do it chronologically starting with Seneca Falls which is where it began.”
Bartley: “And of course the most famous person from our area, and probably in the movement was Inez Milholland who lived right up the street here.”
Bartley: “And then we get to the Jailed for Freedom section because starting in 1917 women who picketed in front of the White House were arrested. And there they are getting busted right outside your office.”
At one display museum trustee Gary Zahavi explained that they wanted to highlight underexplored aspects of the suffrage movement. “We profiled both the opposition and some of the racist parts of the movement that people don’t know about. And also some of the more famous black suffragists.”
After her tour Senator Gillibrand noted that New York women received the right to vote before the rest of the country, on Nov. 6, 1917. 100 years later she says it remains today’s women’s responsibility to continue to fight using suffragettes as role models. “What I really admire most about the suffragists is that they created ways to be heard. And so I think for today we are learning our own ways to be heard. I also think the suffragists were a lot tougher certainly than me. They were willing to go to jail. They were willing to hunger strike. The toughness of these women is unparalleled. So I just think there’s a lot that we can learn from the suffragists.”
Adirondack History Museum spokesperson Whitney Jackson notes that their exhibit shows there was a strong suffrage movement across the rural Adirondack region. “And that’s one of the things that the exhibit spotlights. In Keene, NY there was a headquarters for one of the suffragette’s party. There’s also the thing that people don’t think about is that men were involved in the suffrage movement and we do document that. It’s important to know that suffragettes just weren’t women. Inez Milholland for example learned at the feet of her father John Milholland who was an activist.”
The exhibit “Adirondack Suffragists: 100 Years of Votes for Women” will be at the Adirondack History Museum in Elizabethtown, NY until October 9th.