RD65 - Final Report of Commemoration Activities of the Women’s Suffrage Virginia Centennial – January 19, 2021

Executive Summary:

In 2017 the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia established a task force of citizen members and state legislators to plan and lead the Commonwealth in commemorating the centennial anniversary of women's right to vote in 2020 – the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC), the state’s history museum and oldest cultural institution, was named the lead organizing partner, with the support and collaboration of The Library of Virginia (LVA).

In preparation for 2020, the VMHC, in concert with the LVA, and with the guidance of the task force, prepared a robust commemorative strategy that focused on three areas of work:

I. K-12 educational programming: themed, curriculum-based programming for teachers and students, digital distance learning broadcasts, and lectures and symposia;

II. Civic engagement: voter registration events, themed events held on patriotic holidays, special publications, and women’s history artifact collecting initiatives;

III. Economic development and tourism: themed museum exhibitions, traveling panel displays, and an online statewide calendar of events and sites of interest.

Of course, just as the commemoration year kicked-off, the arrival of COVID-19 forced an unexpected, immediate, and comprehensive alteration to commemoration plans. Despite the dramatic disruption of an historic health and financial crisis, the commemoration proceeded.

With thoughtfulness, and in close collaboration with the LVA, the VMHC identified a path forward by reinforcing activities that could safely and reasonably continue, as well as reallocating time and resources to new opportunities that would allow for the most practical and meaningful form by which to mark this important anniversary.

The following pages highlight the commemorative exhibitions, traveling panel shows, educational activities, digital outreach, publications, partnership films, public events, and collecting initiatives that were successfully produced over the course of the past year.

While very different than originally envisioned, the commemoration – with a modest mix of state and private support – resulted in impressive statewide engagement, millions of media impressions, new statewide partnerships, and a lasting legacy through enduring educational resources, ongoing programming, and new museum collections and archives.