Women of the Movement

Two exhibits on display this spring in the Walter C. Langsam Library highlight women who fought for equality.


Women of the Movement: Leaders for Civil Rights and Voting Rights
, on display on the 4th floor lobby, profiles female leaders and documents their contributions to the fight for civil and voting rights. Beginning with Sojourner Truth, former slave and abolitionist, and concluding with contemporaries Diane Nash, a key player in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Cincinnati’s Marian Spencer, a champion for Civil Rights both locally and nationally, the exhibit spans history into current times.

African-American women instrumental to the fight for women’s suffrage included in the exhibit are Sojourner Truth who worked with Susan B. Anthony; Mary Church Terrell, founder of the National Association of Colored Women in 1896 as part of the Suffrage Movement after black women were excluded from the Women’s Suffrage Movement; and Mary McLeod Bethune who led voter registration drives following the passing of the 19th Amendment.

Included in the exhibit are women who fought for Civil Rights, including Fanny Lou Hamer, who famously said, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired;” Daisy Bates, an integrated schools advocate; and Ida B. Wells, a journalist, educator and one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The exhibit’s design is inspired by a recently created Artworks mural in Cincinnati’s Avondale neighborhood honoring Louise Shropshire, composer of the hymn, “If My Jesus Wills,” that became the well-known mantra “We Shall Overcome” during the Civil Rights Movement. Louise Shropshire’s papers are located in the Archives and Rare Books Library.

Celebrating African-American Women of Movement was curated by June Taylor-Slaughter, public services supervisor in the Geology-Mathematics-Physics Library, and designed by Michelle Matevia, former UC Libraries communication design co-op student. A handout is available at the exhibit and online with more information on the women featured in the exhibit.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Votes for Women, on display on the 5th floor lobby beginning March 1, marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

The exhibit includes a timeline of the women’s suffrage fight starting in 1848 when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. It includes milestones and setbacks along the way, including after the Civil War when the movement found itself divided over the issue of voting rights for black men, thus resulting in a split in the group fighting for women’s suffrage. After a national vote was defeated in 1886, the suffragists changed their strategy from attempting to get a national amendment passed to instead gaining women’s voting rights state-by-state in hopes that a national amendment would follow. The timeline concludes with the passing of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920.

People instrumental to the suffrage movement highlighted in the exhibit include Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Carrie Chapman Catt, abolitionists Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell.

The exhibit also presents the opposition to granting women the right to vote, stating that women should focus on housework and motherhood, not politics, and that voting was seen as counter to a woman’s nature and true cause, which was in the home.

Books, articles and online resources from UC Libraries are featured in the exhibit as sources for more information on women’s suffrage. Votes for Women, was curated by Sally Moffitt, reference librarian and selector, and Melissa Cox Norris, director of library communication. It was designed by Emily Young, UC Libraries communication design co-op student. A bibliography of the works included in the exhibit, as well as more information, will be available at the exhibit and online.