Opening Weekend: When Women Lost the Vote

Millions of American women were granted the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which marks its centennial this year. But did you know that more than a century earlier, women legally held the right to vote in New Jersey from 1776–1807? In the groundbreaking new exhibition When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story, 1776-1807, explore the little-known history of the nation’s first women voters—and examine the political conflicts that led to their voting rights being stripped away in 1807. 

Featuring original objects including textiles, works of art, and newly-discovered poll lists highlighting women voters from the period, the exhibition will bring to life the forgotten stories of the women who first pioneered the vote and became role models for women's suffragists two generations later. When Women Lost the Vote is an inspiring story that will encourage visitors to reconsider their understanding of the timeline of women’s history in America, but it is also a cautionary tale about one of America’s first voting rights crises. The exhibition will be integrated within the Museum’s permanent galleries and connected by an audio tour. The exhibition runs through April 25, 2021.

During opening weekend, visitors will be able to see pop-up 5-minute original first-person theatrical performances in the galleries that dramatize the different experiences and perspectives of two women of the period, Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman, an enslaved woman in Massachusetts who sued for her own freedom and won, and Rebecca VanDike, who may have cast her vote in New Jersey in 1801.

On Saturday, Oct. 3 and Sunday, Oct. 4 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., potential Pennsylvania and New Jersey voters can register to vote on the Museum’s outdoor plaza (weather permitting). Be sure to bring a valid driver’s license or the last four digits of your social security number.

At an 18th-century voting station in the Museum’s first-floor rotunda, cast your ballot and pose for a photo to share. Be sure to tag @AmRevMuseum and #HowRevolutionary. Then get an “I Vote” sticker to wear home.

Families can explore the new exhibition with a special printed Family Guide full of games and activities and pick up a take-and-make craft to make at home.