“When Women Lost the Vote” Virtual Exhibit Now LiveJanuary 29, 2021
Online Exhibit is Free and Accessible to Virtual Visitors Around the World
Onsite Special Exhibition at the Museum is on View Through April 25
The Museum’s groundbreaking special exhibition When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story, 1776-1807 is now available to virtual visitors from around the world through a robust, free online experience. Created to complement the onsite exhibit—which is on view at the Museum through April 25, 2021—the online portal allows anyone to explore the untold stories of the women and free people of color in New Jersey who first pioneered the vote during the Revolutionary era, a right that was stripped away in 1807. The virtual exhibit will remain permanently available.
Through interactive elements, videos with historians and curators, and high-resolution images of artifacts, manuscripts, and works of art, the virtual exhibit explores four central questions: How did women gain the vote? How did the vote expand? How did women lose the vote? And, how was the vote regained? It also examines how that earlier Revolutionary fight became a rallying cry for those who took up the mantle of the suffrage movement decades later.
A highlight of the virtual exhibit is a poll list interactive that allows users to learn more about the women and people of color whose names appear on poll lists in the early 1800s. The poll lists featured are among those discovered by the Museum’s curatorial team in 2018. To date, the team has discovered 163 women voters and at least four free Black male voters on nine poll lists from 1800 to 1807. Prior to this discovery, little proof of women or people of color voting in this period was known to exist. Several of the poll lists are also featured in the onsite exhibition at the Museum.
Other highlights of the virtual exhibit include:
- An introductory film featuring commentary from Harvard University’s Dr. Jane Kamensky, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Dr. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and many others.
- A closer look at artifacts from the exhibit, including Abigail Adams’s “Remember the Ladies” letter, the short gown of free Black woman Elizabeth “Betty” Dorn, and the wedding gown of Deborah Sampson, who disguised herself as a man to fight in the Continental Army.
- An exploration of the Museum’s new permanent tableau scene depicting women voting in New Jersey in 1801.
- Two new 25-minute filmed one-woman theatrical performances that dramatize the different experiences and perspectives of two women of the period: Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman, an enslaved woman who sued for her freedom and won, and Rebecca VanDike, an early voter in New Jersey in 1801.
- Primary sources like newspapers, wills, maps, and marriage and baptismal records.
- A timeline, voter biographies, maps, a glossary, and more!
“We are thrilled to make this virtual exhibition free and accessible online, so that people can delve into the complexities of the American Revolution and the messy history of voting in the new nation,” said Dr. Philip Mead, Chief Historian and Curator for the Museum. “In the wake of a divisive presidential election, this exhibition’s message feels even more timely: that progress is not linear and that protecting our rights and freedoms—and those of others—requires constant vigilance.”
Looking ahead, on Thursday, February 25, 2021 from 6 – 7:15 p.m., the Museum will host Discovering Black Voters in Early New Jersey, a virtual event exploring the stories of Black voters with Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum founders Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills, co-authors of If These Stones Could Talk: African American Presence in the Hopewell Valley, Sourland Mountain, and Surrounding Regions of New Jersey. Museum curators will join Buck and Mills for a virtual visit to historic houses and cemeteries that bring to life the stories of Ephraim Hagerman and other Black voters, as recently covered by the New York Times.
We are also offering virtual programs for students and adults that draw from the new online portal. More information is available on our website, or by emailing [email protected] or calling 215.579.3623. Professional development opportunities are available for educators. Check here for details. Resources based on the exhibit will be available for teachers later this year.
In addition to the online experience, When Women Lost the Vote is on view at the Museum through April 25, in the Museum’s clean, uncrowded galleries with new limited visitor capacity and enhanced health and safety procedures. Integrated with the Museum’s core galleries, it is included with regular Museum admission and connected with a free audio tour.
The Museum is now open to the public Fridays – Sundays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and select holiday Mondays. Advanced online ticket purchasing is recommended to guarantee availability. Tickets can be purchased at www.amrevmuseum.org or by calling 215.253.6731. Children ages 5 and under are always free.
Bank of America and Comcast NBCUniversal are presenting sponsors of When Women Lost the Vote. Other support was provided by The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. The exhibition was also made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.
About Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of the American Revolution uncovers and shares compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government. Through the Museum’s unmatched collection, immersive galleries, powerful theater experiences, and interactive elements, visitors gain a deeper appreciation for how this nation came to be and feel inspired to consider their role in ensuring that the promise of the American Revolution endures. Located just steps away from Independence Hall, the Museum serves as a portal to the region’s many Revolutionary sites, sparking interest, providing context, and encouraging exploration. The Museum, which opened on April 19, 2017, is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan organization. For more information, visit www.AmRevMuseum.org or call 877.740.1776.