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The Work Must be Done: Women of Color and the Right to Vote

New Haven, Conn.

–August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the day on which the 19th Amendment was made law. While celebrating the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote this year, the New Haven Museum (NHM) recognizes that women of color remained largely disenfranchised despite passage of the 19th Amendment. In fact, it was not until the Voting Rights Act was passed on August 6, 1965, that African American women were able to vote. The Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) will present exciting new research on the women of color who worked for women’s suffrage and advanced voting rights in, “The Work Must be Done: Women of Color and the Right to Vote.” The free program will be held via Zoom in conjunction with NHM on Wednesday August 26, 2020, from 1 to 3 p.m. Register here.

Inspired by the words of notable African American reformer and political activist, Mary Townsend Seymour, “The work must be done,” the program includes conversation on the importance of having a history that is inclusive. Ilene Frank, CHS chief curator, Karen Li Miller, CHS research historian, and Professor Brittney Yancy of Goodwin University will raise up the stories of women such as Seymour, Rose Payton, Minnie Glover, Sarah Brown Flemming, and others.

Participants will gain a broader understanding of the role women of color played in the women’s suffrage movement and of the restrictions, stemming from systemic racism, that limited women of color from being more officially involved in the movement, notes Frank. “We also hope to inspire professional historians, historical societies and community historians to engage in history research on this topic.”

Franks adds that the presenting historians themselves have been gaining additional insight as they offer this presentation at locations around the state. “We've had feedback from participants who have identified other places where the research team can look, including church archives, and key individuals to track down.”

“The Work Must be Done: Women of Color and the Right to Vote” was made possible with support from Connecticut Humanities.

About Connecticut Historical Society

A private, nonprofit, educational organization established in 1825, the Connecticut Historical Society is the state’s official historical society and one of the oldest in the nation. Located at One Elizabeth Street in Hartford, the CHS houses a museum, library, and the Edgar F. Waterman Research Center that are open to the public and funded by private contributions. The CHS’s collection includes more than four million manuscripts, graphics, books, artifacts, and other historical materials accessible at our campus and on loan at other organizations. The CHS collection, programs and exhibits help Connecticut residents connect with each other, have conversations that shape our communities, and make informed decisions based on our past and present.

About the New Haven Museum

The New Haven Museum has been collecting, preserving and interpreting the history and heritage of Greater New Haven since its inception as the New Haven Colony Historical Society in 1862. Located in downtown New Haven at 114 Whitney Avenue, the Museum brings more than 375 years of New Haven history to life through its collections, exhibitions, programs and outreach. As a designated Blue Star Museum, the New Haven Museum offers the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, free admission from Memorial Day through Labor Day. For more information visit or or call 203-562-4183.

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