Museum exhibit marks centennial of women voting
The Finney County Historical Museum will host a traveling exhibit before, during and after Election Day that’s designed to bring life to the history of the women’s suffrage movement in Kansas.
The exhibit, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Kansas, is scheduled for display Oct. 28 through Nov. 6 in the museum’s Front Door Gallery. The original opening date was Oct. 26, but delivery was delayed by icy highway conditions.
The seven-panel display, created by the league’s Centennial Celebration Committee, is based on a theme of “Learning from the Past, Imagining the Future,” while focusing in part on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
American women gained the right to vote when Tennessee became the necessary 36th state to ratify the amendment in 1920, though Kansas women had already succeeded in their fight to win the vote as early as 1912.
Visitors can learn about Kansas women who took up the struggle for suffrage in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, as well as developments after the amendment extended voting rights nationwide in 1920. Viewers can also discover the role of African-American and Native American women who worked in the movement but didn’t get voting rights until much later.
In addition, the exhibit incorporates images and information about ways that women’s political involvement has influenced lives of all Kansans through the present. It concludes with a panel encouraging full participation in every election.
The league itself is also making a century of history.
“Almost 100 years after the league’s founding, members are proud of the great progress it has made empowering voters and defending our democracy,” Cille King, co-president of the Kansas LWV said, a non-partisan grassroots organization with nine local affiliates across the state. While never endorsing parties or candidates, the LWV encourages informed and active participation of citizens in government, and advocates fair, free and accessible elections.
Museum exhibit hours are 1 to 5 p.m. seven days weekly and admission is free. The Front Door Gallery is a small space just inside the museum’s entrance where displays change frequently throughout the year. The traveling display follows prior 2020 exhibits about mid-20th Century glassware and bakeware, American flags significant to Garden City history and historic Finney County women’s organizations.
The suffrage display is funded in part by a grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, the Kansas Health Foundation, Humanities Kansas and the Mariah Fund. Support also came from various Kansas businesses, universities and individuals. The exhibit has been and will continue to be shown at numerous locations across Kansas over 14 months.
The booking at the Finney County Museum will follow appearances in Dodge City and Liberal. After the display closes locally, it will be transported for viewing in Scott City.