Jonesborough Museum exhibit highlights ‘Tennessee Women’s Fight for the Vote’

Published 12:45 pm Friday, August 28, 2020

The Jonesborough & Washington County Heritage Alliance presents “To Make Our Voices Heard: Tennessee Women’s Fight for the Vote,” a new traveling exhibition, on display now in the Jonesborough & Washington County History Museum located inside the Jonesborough Visitor’s Center.
The exhibition, created in partnership with the Tennessee State Museum and the Tennessee State Library and Archives, explores the history of the woman’s suffrage movement, Tennessee’s dramatic vote to ratify the 19th Amendment in 1920, and the years that followed.
“We are very excited and honored to host this traveling exhibit in Tennessee’s Oldest Town,” says Heritage Alliance Executive Director Anne Mason. “We have been researching the role of local suffragettes, and we’ll be creating a Washington County companion exhibit that will only add to this wonderful exhibit from the State Museum and Archives.”
The exhibition is constructed of multiple dynamic panels, offering guests a touch-free experience of archival images, engaging stories and introductions to the leaders of the fight for and against the cause of woman’s suffrage. The stories begin by detailing the early challenges of racial and gender discrimination and continuing to the organization of African American and white women’s associations to encourage political engagement. 
Visitors will also learn about Febb Burn of McMinn County, whose letter to her son, Harry T. Burn, resulted in a last-minute vote that helped change women’s history in the United States forever.
The exhibit includes a Tennessee map, highlighting suffragist activities across the state, including in Washington County.
“Tennessee’s role in becoming the 36th and final state to ratify the 19th Amendment not only solidified women’s right to vote but propelled women across the country to opportunities and futures they never thought possible,” said Chuck Sherrill, State Librarian and Archivist with the Tennessee State Library & Archives. “The hope of the committee is this centennial celebration will do the same all across our state.”
In coordination with this traveling exhibit, the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville will soon open Ratified! Tennessee Women and the Right to Vote, an extensive 8,000 square foot exhibition exploring the Women’s Suffrage movement in Tennessee through archival images and documents, artifacts, films, interactive elements, and programming.
An online component of the exhibition, Ratified! Statewide! highlighting the suffrage movement in every Tennessee county is available now at
“As we commemorate the historic vote that took place at Tennessee’s State Capitol in August of 1920, we want to honor those individuals who played key roles in the journey to gain voting rights for women,” said Ashley Howell, Executive Director of the Tennessee State Museum. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to share these stories across the state.”
“To Make Our Voices Heard: Tennessee Women’s Fight for the Vote” is organized by the Tennessee State Museum and the Tennessee State Library and Archives with funding provided by The Official Committee of the State of Tennessee Woman Suffrage Centennial. The project is also funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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