Library of Congress

Teachers

The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Women of Protest
Penn[sylvania] on the picket line-- 1917.

[Detail] Penn[sylvania] on the picket line-- 1917

Collection Overview

Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party contains photographs documenting the activities of this militant organization in the woman’s suffrage movement. Included are a time line, images of parades and other protest activities and images of women imprisoned for their activities in support of the suffrage movement.

Special Features

These online exhibits provide context and additional information about this collection.

Historical Eras

These historical era(s) are best represented in the collection although they may not be all-encompassing.

  • Emergence of Modern America — 1890-1930

Related Collections and Exhibits

These collections and exhibits contain thematically-related primary and secondary sources. Also browse the Collection Finder for more related material on the American Memory Web site.

Other Resources

Recommended additional sources of information.

Search Tips

Specific guidance for searching this collection.

To find items in this collection, search by Keyword or browse by Title or Subject.

For help with general search strategies, see Finding Items in American Memory.

U.S. History

Introduction

Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party presents approximately 500 photographs documenting the broad range of tactics employed by the National Woman’s Party and individual portraits of the organization’s leaders. The bulk of the photographs in the online collection pertain to the period from 1913 to 1922. Photographs depict dramatic pageants to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, mass rallies and parades, White House pickets, and the arrest and imprisonment of party members. Photographs verify the National Woman’s Party efforts to secure passage of the 19th Amendment and the subsequent abortive campaign for passage of an Equal Rights Amendment.

Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party primarily focuses on the development of a more active movement within the campaign for a women’s suffrage amendment. The collection documents mass demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience during the short span of time from the development of the National Woman’s Party to the ratification of the 19th Amendment and the subsequent efforts to obtain an Equal Rights Amendment. The photographic collection documents the efforts of Alice Paul and other prominent women in this pivotal period in American history.

The collection includes several features useful in introducing this phase of the campaign for suffrage: a timeline, three essays on the tactics and leaders of the NWP, and a gallery of photos depicting women who were sent to jail for their activities in support of suffrage. The collection can be searched by keyword and browsed by title and subject.

1912-1914: Mass Demonstrations and Formation of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage

By the turn of the twentieth century, the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) had developed a strategy of securing a woman’s right to vote in municipal elections and seeking full suffrage through state constitutions. This strategy of focusing on state efforts reduced the association’s Congressional Committee to relative obscurity until revitalized by the appointment of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns as joint chairs of the Committee in December 1912. Paul and Burns first met in England, where they had both been jailed for participating in demonstrations organized by the Women’s Social and Political Union. Both women had been influenced by the radicalism of British suffrage leader Emmeline Pankhurst.

Paul and Burns organized a massive suffrage parade as the first effort of the newly revitalized NAWSA’s Congressional Committee. The parade was planned for March 3, 1913, on the eve of President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. Women also held open-air meetings in conjunction with the parade. Look at the photos listed below and the full captions and Notes to learn more about this event:

Use your analysis of the photos and accompanying information to answer the following questions:

  • Describe the woman at the head of the parade. What did her appearance symbolize? Do you think this was an effective way to start the parade?
  • How did onlookers respond to the parade?
  • Why might the organizers of the parade have planned open-air meetings to be held at the same time? Why might women from prominent families be effective speakers at such meetings?
  • Despite the success of the parade, the leadership of NAWSA feared that Paul and Burns would alienate supporters by endorsing the radical tactics of the British movement. Why do you think leaders of NAWSA were fearful that massive demonstrations on behalf of woman suffrage would hinder the movement? Is there any photographic evidence to support their position?

Paul and Burns, although they continued to serve as chairs of the Congressional Committee, formed a new organization known as the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage. Although distinct from the Congressional Committee, its directors and members of the executive board were the same. The Congressional Union lobbied elected officials and gave notice to the Democratic Party, which had control of the executive and legislative branches, that it would hold them responsible for congressional inaction on suffrage. NAWSA leaders confronted Paul and Burns with an ultimatum that they divorce themselves from the Congressional Union and abandon threats to hold the Democratic Party responsible for failure to secure a suffrage amendment in order to retain their positions in NAWSA’s Congressional Committee. Paul and Burns refused.

1915-1917: Formation of the National Woman’s Party and Picketing the White House

Throughout 1915, Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and the Congressional Union organized state branches, held a national convention of women voters, collected 500,000 signatures on a suffrage petition, and testified before Congress, among other activities. At the end of the year, CU and NAWSA made a last attempt to reconcile, but the attempt failed. In June 1916, CU’s leaders formed the National Woman’s Party.

After President Wilson’s reelection, Alice Paul called for members of the National Woman’s Party to picket the White House to convince the president to put pressure on Democratic senators to vote in favor of a constitutional suffrage amendment. Lucy Burns led most of the picket demonstrations. Picketers were not molested and, in fact, the president often waved to them as he left the White House. To maintain interest in the press, Paul and Burns organized groups representing women from different walks of life to picket on different days.

  • Why do you think continued press coverage was an important aspect of the National Woman’s Party’s strategy?
  • How might having women picket in groups from different walks of life raise interest in the movement?

Once the United States entered World War I, things changed. In June 1917, the police began arresting women outside the White House. Undaunted by these arrests, women marched to the White House on Independence Day, carrying banners reading “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed;” they were promptly arrested. In a demonstration on August 14, 1917, a melee broke out as women carried banners addressing the president as “Kaiser Wilson.” Servicemen often agitated demonstrators and, in some cases, attacked pickets while policemen did nothing to prevent the confrontation.

In October 1917, police announced that if women continued to picket the White House, they could expect sentences of up to six months in prison. The day following the announcement, Alice Paul marched from party headquarters to the White House carrying a banner with one of Wilson’s slogans, “The time has come to conquer or submit for there is but one choice - we have made it.”

  • What do you think were the benefits of picketing the White House? What costs might this strategy have had for the NWP?
  • What was the point of including slogans on picketers’ banners? Why might these slogans provoke onlookers? Which of the slogans that you have seen in the photos is most appealing to you? Explain your answer.
  • Why do you think the U.S. entry into World War I changed the situation for the NWP picketers? What parallels could you draw with public and government responses to protestors during other wars?
  • Why do you think Alice Paul continued to defy the police by sending picketers to the White House? In her place, what would you have done?
  • To what extent did the arrest and incarceration of picketers play into the hands of the National Woman’s Party?

Paul and other picketers were arrested but given suspended sentences. Returning to the picket line, Paul and Rose Winslow were arrested and given seven-month jail sentences for obstructing traffic. First offenders received six-month sentences. Paul and Winslow considered themselves political prisoners and organized a hunger strike. Hunger strikes spread throughout the district jail and to area workhouses, where other women picketers had been incarcerated. Jailers began force-feeding, a painful and humiliating experience that Paul had endured while jailed in England several years earlier.

  • How did long jail sentences arouse public support?
  • A political prisoner is a person detained by a government because the government believes the person’s ideas or image threaten the security of the state. Why did suffrage prisoners consider themselves to be political prisoners? Do you agree that the jailed suffragists were political prisoners?
  • Why would members of the National Woman’s Party resort to a hunger strike? What could they expect to gain by refusing to eat?

Arrests at the gates of the White House did nothing to stop the daily gathering of women picketers. More women were arrested and given sentences varying from six days to six months. (See the Gallery for photos of many of the women who served jail time as a result of their participation in suffrage protests.) Lucy Burns received a six-month sentence; Mary Nolan, 73, was sentenced to six days in consideration of her advanced age. Nolan and most others arrested on November 10, 1917, were sent to Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia. On arrival at the workhouse, women refused to put on prison uniforms or work; the guards became violent, kicking and beating the prisoners in what became known in the suffrage movement as “The Night of Terror.” Women again resorted to a hunger strike. Upon their release, many were too weak to walk on their own.

What advantage would the National Woman’s Party gain through publication of photographs like this one?

1918-1920: The Fight for Approval of the Suffrage Amendment

In January 1918, President Wilson announced his support for the suffrage amendment, and the U.S. House of Representatives passed the proposed amendment. Despite support by prominent political leaders, including former President Theodore Roosevelt, conservative senators stood firm in opposition to the extension of suffrage. The National Woman’s Party redoubled their efforts to affect the vote in the Senate.

In a lobbying attempt, the National Woman’s Party gathered signatures on a petition supporting passage of a suffrage amendment and delivered it to Senator Jones of New Mexico, Chairman of the Suffrage Committee. Of the 96 senators representing the 48 states in the union, 62 supported ratification in October, two votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to send the amendment to the states for ratification. Women who demonstrated outside the Senate Office Building were arrested.

Although President Wilson had expressed his support for the suffrage amendment, the NWF wanted him to be more active in urging passage of the amendment. President Wilson left Washington in December 1918 to attend the international peace conference in Versailles. In January 1919, the National Woman’s Party devised a new tactic to pressure for the adoption of a suffrage amendment to the Constitution. Members would gather with copies of the president’s speeches on issues relating to democracy and burn them in urns outside public buildings, including the White House. With a banner implying that the resident was a hypocrite, women outside the White House burned a speech Wilson had given on his grand tour of Europe. These “Watchfires of Freedom” resulted in more arrests and often provoked counter demonstrations.

Forced to move from the gates outside the White House, activists moved across the street to Lafayette Square and continued their demonstrations, including burning presidential speeches, while Wilson was at the peace negotiations.

  • What was the purpose of the Watchfire demonstrations?
  • As with some banners carried by pickets, the Watchfire demonstrations focused on President Wilson’s own words. What is the effect of using an opponent’s words to support a position? Can you think of other cases in which activists have used this strategy?

On Wilson’s return from Europe, he was to deliver a speech at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Doris Stephens, Legislative Chairman of the National Woman’s Party, and several other picketers managed to cross the police barricade. The demonstrators were arrested after being attacked by onlookers.

To keep public attention on the Senate, the NWP devised a new strategy—the “Prison Special.” Women who had served sentences for demonstrating donned their prison uniforms and set out on a coast-to-coast tour in February and March 1919, making speeches in support of a suffrage amendment.

Republicans had gained control of the Congress in the off-year election. In May 1919 the House of Representatives again passed a suffrage amendment. By June the Senate, now with a Republican majority, passed the amendment by a vote of 66 to 30, two more than the two-thirds required. The job was far from complete, however, as 36 states (three-fourths of the 48 states) were needed to ratify the amendment.

  • How effective do you think the “Prison Special” tactic was in marshaling public support?
  • Why did demonstrators shift their focus away from President Wilson and the Democratic politicians to Republicans in 1919?
  • Why was it so difficult to gain Senate approval of the suffrage amendment?
  • Which states do you think were most likely to support passage of the amendment? Which states were least likely to agree?

Within days of Senate passage, Wisconsin became the first state to ratify the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. As each state voted for ratification, women sewed a star in the NWP Ratification Flag. Suffrage activists who had worked for years were invited to witness governors signing the amendment after it passed their state’s legislature.

When the amendment had not been ratified by 36 states at the time of the June 1920 conventions of the two political parties, the NWF sent delegations to both, lobbying states that had not yet ratified the amendment and asking the parties to insert a plank into their platforms supporting suffrage. The Democrats agreed to the suffrage plank, but the Republicans did not, and the NWP picketed the convention.

The struggle finally came down to Tennessee. Alice Paul and a delegation from the NWP consulted with Governor Cox on the chances of passage by the Tennessee legislature in the upcoming ratification vote. Upon receiving word that Tennessee had voted to ratify, Paul unfurled the ratification flag with 36 stars from the balcony of the National Woman’s Party in Washington.

Post-1920: The Equal Rights Amendment

Alice Paul and the leadership of the NWP believed that suffrage was only one step in acquiring full equality for women. After the passage of the 19th Amendment, they began to focus on a national campaign to secure equal rights for women. In 1921, a delegation of 50 prominent party members called upon President Warren Harding to ask his aid in securing passage of an Equal Rights Bill in the next Congress. In 1922, the NWP succeeded in winning passage of the Cable Act, which allowed women to retain their U.S. citizenship after marrying a citizen of another country. In December 1923, Alice Paul drafted the Equal Rights Amendment, which the NWP called the Lucretia Mott Amendment. Year after year, the proposed amendment was introduced in each new session of Congress. It was not until 1972 that both houses of Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment and sent it to the states for ratification. The amendment failed to be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

  • Why do you think the NWP proposed passage of the Equal Rights Amendment? Do you think such an amendment was needed? Conduct research to find evidence supporting your answer.
  • Read the “Historical Overview of the National Woman’s Party.” How would you summarize the role of the NWP in U.S. history? Create a gallery or slide show of photos that help explain the organization’s significance.

Critical Thinking

Chronological Thinking: Interpreting Timelines

Studying timelines, which show events in the order in which they occurred, can be a good way to identify changes over time. Study the “Brief Timeline of the National Woman’s Party, 1912-1997” and look for ways in which the tactics of the suffragists changed over time. Write an essay on the changes that you note. Choose photographs from the collection to illustrate the essay.

Historical Comprehension: Analyzing Photographs

Search the collection using terms such as parades, picketing, watchfire, and prison special for documentary photographs of the various tactics employed by the NWP. How effective are the photographs in explaining this period in history?

Remember that a photograph is a document created by an individual and therefore reflects that person’s views. For example, photographers may show point of view by focusing on a particular subject, by taking the photograph from a perspective that diminishes or enhances the stature of the subject, or by taking a photograph that shows the subject in an unflattering light.

What questions do you think need to be asked about photographs when assessing their historical accuracy? Make a list of these questions. Then search the Teachers Page to find a photo analysis guide, and compare your questions with the questions in that guide. Did you omit any important questions? Did the author of the guide omit any important questions? Revise your list to reflect what you learned by looking at the guide.

Now use your list of questions to analyze a picture, such as the one shown below. How does using a structured approach to analyzing a photograph help you better understand that photograph?

Historical Analysis and Interpretation: Comparing Differing Views

The National Woman’s Party was an offshoot of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The two groups broke because of their differing ideas about strategies for winning the vote. Read the two essays provided with the collection, “Historical Overview of the national Woman’s Party” and “Tactics and Techniques of the National Woman’s Party Suffrage Campaign.”

  • List the different strategies used by the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and the National Woman’s Party (NWP).
  • Explain why the tactics advocated by Alice Paul disturbed the leadership of the NAWSA.
  • Select one photograph from the collection that depicts an NWP strategy that NAWSA members would not approve of and one photograph that depicts an NWP strategy that NAWSA members would approve. Write two sets of captions for the photographs: one set from the perspective of a member of the NWP and the other from the perspective of a NAWSA member.

Historical Research: Researching Ratification of the 19th Amendment

Once the 19th Amendment was passed by Congress, it had to be ratified by 36 states in order to become part of the Constitution. Battles played out in many states, none more dramatic than in Tennessee, which became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment in August 1920.

Research the struggle for ratification of the 19th Amendment in Tennessee.

  • What lobbying methods did the people on both sides of the suffrage question use in Tennessee?
  • What role did Harry Burn, the youngest member of the Tennessee legislature, play in the ratification debate?
  • What tactics did the anti-suffrage movement employ to block final ratification?

Historical Research: Comparing Equal Rights Amendments

After passage of the 19th Amendment, the National Woman’s Party began working for passage of an Equal Rights bill:
The bill would give women full equality in the government service, give married women citizenship in their own right and make women of the District of Columbia eligible to serve on juries, equal guardianship rights, and equal rights of inheritance and contract.

From “Women Ask President for Equal Rights Legislation” (Women Ask President for Equal Rights Legislation).

Research the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) submitted to the states for ratification in 1972.

  • How did the contemporary ERA differ from the 1920 bill? What events in the intervening 50 years might have shaped the 1972 amendment?
  • What arguments were presented in favor of passage of the ERA in the 1970s? Opposed to passage?
  • Why do you think the ERA failed to achieve the 38 states necessary for ratification?

Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision Making: Asking Ethical Questions

When activists decide what actions to take in seeking change, they must consider ethics, questions about what actions are morally right. Different approaches to ethical questions exist, each based on a different definition of ethical behavior.

  • Rights-based approaches define an ethical action as doing one’s duty and supporting ethical principles, such as justice, equality, and the rule of law.
  • Results-based approaches define an ethical action as one where the benefits outweigh the costs.
  • Reputation-based approaches define an ethical action as one consistent with good character.
  • Relationship-based approaches define an ethical action as one that helps build a healthy community.

Evaluate the course of action taken by the NWP in securing the passage of the 19th Amendment, focusing particularly on parades, picketing, and hunger strikes. According to the four ethical approaches described briefly above, were these actions ethical? Are some ethical according to one approach and not another? In which approaches would the effectiveness of a strategy weigh into ethical decision-making? What strategies would you have recommended to Alice Paul and Lucy Burns in 1913 based on your ethical analysis?

Arts & Humanities

Composing and Cropping Photographs

Photographs provide a visual record of events, people, and places. However, decisions made by the photographer affect that record . First, the photographer decides what to photograph and how to compose the picture. Composing the picture means deciding how the photograph will look, a decision that is actually many smaller decisions taken together.

One decision affecting composition is where the director is located when taking the picture: close to the subject, to the right, to the left, on the ground, from above, etc. The photographer also decides where in the picture to place the subject. Many photographers believe a photo is more interesting if the subject is not in the center of the picture. Instead, they imagine a tic-tac-toe grid placed over the image and try to place the subject at one of the points where lines intersect. This is called the Rule of Thirds. According to this rule, if there is a horizon in the picture,whether an actual horizon where land meets sky or an artificial horizon created by a strong horizontal line such as a road, it should be located closer to one of the horizontal lines of the grid than to the center of the picture.

Another aspect of composing the photo is framing, deciding what details should be included in the photograph. Framing includes deciding how much background or foreground to show in the photograph and determining how close to get to the subject. Another aspect of framing is deciding whether to make the shot horizontal or vertical (landscape or portrait).

When a photograph appears in a publication, the editor may crop the photograph. That means the editor may decide to change the framing by cutting out some portions of the photograph. The editor may cut out part of the foreground because there isn’t room for the entire picture, to make it more visually pleasing. The editor may cut out something to keep the viewer’s focus on other elements of the picture. Composition and cropping can both have powerful effects on the meaning a viewer takes from a photograph.

As an example, look at the photograph below.

  • What do you notice about the composition and framing of this picture?
  • What is the subject of the picture and where is it placed?
  • Is there a horizon? Where is it placed?
  • Why do you think the photographer chose to include the other two photographers in the frame of this picture? How might the meaning of the image be changed if the photographers were not shown?

Next, look at the picture below. The notes provided with the picture say that a cropped version of the photo appeared in The Suffragist in June 1916. Read the “Notes” on the photograph provided in the collection so that you have all the background available.

  • Does this photograph follow the Rule of Thirds? Explain your answer.
  • Do you see any problems with the framing of this picture? Why might the picture be framed in this way? (Remember that photographic technology did not allow zooming at the time these pictures were taken.)
  • Imagine that you were the editor of The Suffragist. How would you crop the photo? Would your reasons for cropping be aesthetic (having to do with the visual appeal of the image) or substantive (having to do with the message conveyed by the photo)? Explain your answer.

Note the two horizontal white lines on the photo, as well as the vertical line on the right side of the picture. Try cropping the picture along those lines, either in hard copy or by saving the picture and opening it in a graphics program. Evaluate the effectiveness of this cropping, especially in terms of composition.

Browse the collection. Find one photograph that you think is composed especially well. Print out the picture and annotate the features of the composition that you think are done skillfully. Also print out a photograph that you think is composed poorly. Annotate the features of the composition that you think could be improved.

Understanding Portraits

Many of the photographs in the Women of Protest collection are portraits of women involved in the suffrage movement. A portrait is a painted or photographic likeness of a person. Some portraits show only the subject’s face; others show part or all of the subject’s body. Some are very formally posed, while others are more informal, showing the subject in a natural setting. A good portrait not only captures the person’s appearance but also conveys something about the subject’s character and personality. The photographer can convey character and personality through lighting, the subject’s pose, props, what the subject wears, backgrounds and where the subject’s gaze is directed.

Below are links to a number of portraits from the Women of Protest collection. These portraits represent various poses, different backgrounds, and varying degrees of formality and informality.

Study these portraits or another group of portraits that you select from the collection. Examine the portraits carefully before reading the captions. Consider how the subjects are posed, where they are looking, which features are most dominant, and the expressions on their faces. Study the backgrounds, what the subjects are wearing, and any other objects shown in the pictures. Then read the captions and answer the following questions.

  • What, if anything, can you determine from examining the facial features and expressions in the portraits you studied?
  • What do you notice about the lighting in the photographs? How does the lighting influence your response to the pictures?
  • What do you notice about the ways in which the subjects are posed? What do you think the photographer was trying to suggest about the character of the subjects by photographing them in profile (facing the side)? Facing the camera but looking away from it? Facing the camera and looking into it?
  • Do any objects or details in the background suggest something about the subject’s character?
  • How do the captions tend to influence the reader’s opinion of the individuals? What clues in the captions may indicate a bias?
  • Which portrait do you think does the best job of conveying the subject’s character and personality? Why? Write a caption for that portrait explaining what you believe it shows about the subject’s character and personality.

Creating Photo Essays

George Harris of Harris and Ewing took a number of photos in the Women of Protest collection. (Search using Harris and Ewing as the keyword for a list of photographs taken by Harris.) Harris set up shop in Washington, D.C., in 1905 and became well-known three years later for a photo essay “Anatomy of a Smile,” which showed William Howard Taft receiving the news that he had been nominated for the Presidency by the Republican Party.

A photo essay is a collection of photographs selected to tell a story or convey an idea with the minimum of words. A photo essay can be made up of just a few photographs or it can be long enough to comprise a book. The individual photos in a photo essay can be captioned or photos can be grouped with a small amount of text accompanying each group of photos.

Browse through the Women of Protest collection. What stories could be told using the photos from the collection? What themes could be developed visually using the photos? Some examples might be the story of suffragists in jail or the story of the women pioneer statue; themes that could be developed include courage or protest methods. You could even develop a photo essay on a less serious topic, such as hats.

Pick a story or theme for a photo essay. Select six to ten photos to include in the photo essay. Arrange them in a way that you think would be effective in conveying the story or theme. Create captions or text to accompany the photos, but remember that the photos should do most of the “speaking.” Give your photo essay a title that will provoke curiosity.

What stories or themes could this photograph help you develop?

Evaluating Essays

To stimulate support for the campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment, the Student Council of the National Woman’s Party held an Equal Rights Essay Contest. Novelist and short story writer Fannie Hurst was one of the judges of the entries. If you were asked to judge an essay contest, what would you look for in a winning essay? Create a checklist that judges in an essay contest could use in evaluating the submissions. As you write the checklist, think about the characteristics of effective writing.

Next, write a persuasive essay that could have been submitted in the national contest in 1932. Use the checklist to ensure that your essay is of high quality. Trade essays with a classmate and use the checklist to evaluate the essay.

Writing a Biographical Sketch

A biographical sketch is a brief account of a person’s life; not as detailed or lengthy as a biography, a biographical sketch may highlight a few aspects of a person’s life that are especially telling. Like a good biography, a good biographical sketch makes the subject come to life, allowing the reader to see the subject as a three-dimensional character. Profiles of several leaders of the National Woman’s Party are provided in an essay accompanying the Women of Protest collection.

Conduct research and write a biographical sketch of Alice Paul, emphasizing her efforts to secure passage of the 19th Amendment and assessing her leadership qualities. Search the collection for photographs to include with the biographical sketch.

  • What traits of Paul’s character do you consider most notable?
  • How important were Paul’s contributions to the achievement of woman suffrage?

Dramatic Pageants

In conjunction with the massive suffrage parade in Washington on the eve of Woodrow Wilson’s first inauguration in 1913, women dressed in Greek togas performed a “Suffragette Tableau” as “Liberty and Her Attendants” in front of the Treasury Building. A tableau is a staged activity in which participants physically construct a scene or series of scenes from literature or history or create “frozen pictures” representing a theme or idea. Body placement, facial expressions, costumes, and props may be used to convey meaning. Participants may hold their positions for as long as 20 minutes. Tableaux were popular in the 19th century, but began to lose popularity in the early years of the 20th century.

In 1923, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, the National Woman’s Party called for a celebration of equal rights. As part of the diamond jubilee celebration, members turned to a newer entertainment form, the modern “Dance Drama” with participants representing justice, truth, tillers of the soil, and warriors.

  • What purpose did such pageants as the liberty tableau and the dance drama serve?
  • In what ways did these pageants reflect on the efforts to improve the status of women in America?
  • If you were going to create a tableau about women’s rights in the 21st century, what scene would you depict? Explain your choice.
  • Imagine that you are the board of directors of an organization working for women’s rights today. What kind of entertainment or dramatic genre (e.g., music video, rap song, situation comedy) would you use to make the public aware of your efforts? Write a brief speech explaining your choice and persuading others that it will be effective.