Women Get Things Done

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) worked tirelessly for women’s rights, and today they are often cited as the leaders of the woman suffrage movement in 19th-century America.

But this is not their story.

Instead, this exhibition focuses on other women, and especially women whose stories are not well-known today—many of whom did not choose to align themselves with Stanton and Anthony. With very few exceptions these were white women in Northern states whose privileged backgrounds shaped their activism.

At mid-century, women sought to expand the range of women’s occupations, especially in areas where men and women arguably should have equal opportunities. This is their story.

During the Civil War, women gained skills and confidence through volunteer work. This is their story.

Following the war, women who were not themselves advocates of voting rights for women often belonged to clubs that sponsored programs to help less-advantaged women. This is their story.

Other women joined the late-19th-century temperance movement, and promoted suffrage as an extension of women’s traditional roles as protectors of the home. This is their story.

Taken together, these stories—from two important decades—form a complex narrative about equality and difference.

Cornelia S. King, Curator of Women's History, Library Company, curator
Dr. Amy L. Sopcak-Joseph, Assistant Professor of History, Wilkes University, collaborator

For a list of secondary sources on women’s rights history, click here for PDF.


The Davida T. Deutsch Program in Women’s History

The Pennsylvania Council for the Arts

The Philadelphia Cultural Fund