“The movement for woman suffrage may have been a national one, but the best measure of what women were able to do with those hard-won ballots is not the enactment of federal legislation or the election of women to office. Instead, we should measure the weight of their votes where they did – in their own communities and state legislatures.” – Lorraine Gates Schuyler, The Weight of Their Votes, 2006.
All history begins with local history
In 2016, Chick History travelled across the state to empower history professionals and build a network of museum and history professionals committed to better women’s history. More than 160 attendees from over 80 organizations participated in Chick History Bootcamps, a one-day training program for women’s history, professional development and networking.
Now it’s time to look to family history and begin protecting the legacy. A critical issue facing women’s history writ-large is that a majority of objects and material are still in private and family collections. Without this history, we’ll never have the full picture of what happened.
Working with diverse communities, we dedicate our next phase of March to the 19th to uncovering and preserving stories related to suffrage and voting history in Tennessee. In an effort to expand the narrative of suffrage in the state, we will seek out local, lesser-known stories with a primary focus on African American women’s histories.
To help develop this phase of March to the 19th, we’ve built a statewide task force comprised of technical and subject-matter experts.
Phase II Statewide Task Force:
- Dr. Noelle Trent, National Civil Rights Museum – Chair
- Andrea Blackman, Nashville Public Library
- Genny Carter, Tennessee State Library & Archives
- Dr. Earnestine Jenkins, University of Memphis
- Renee Kesler, Beck Cultural Exchange Center
- Dr. Susan Knowles, Middle Tennessee State University
- Dr. Learotha Williams, Tennessee State University
Task Force Timeline
The task force began work in November 2016 and will work into the beginning months of 2017 to develop the scope and roadmap for Phase II. The four goals are:
- Establish the scope of material, including the subject-matter, time-frame, type of material, as well as what will not be collected. A discussion on the holes in the archives and what stories are not told will by key. The intent of Phase Two of March to the 19th is to seek out local and family history that fills a void in the archives. Goal One will be to establish the exact scope of that void from an archival point of view, including how much material to collect/digitize is appropriate for a pilot-program.
- Establish the parameters and options for donating the digital material in relation to copyright. The concern of copyright has already been identified, and the project will want to respect the copyright of personal family material. We want to make sure we establish trust with donors, and respect family history.
- Recommend a committee structure, by region, that will help promote, mobilize, and support the project in each region of Tennessee. The structure will include recommend duties members can fulfill, as well as nominate and recommend individuals for the committee.
- Recommend a structure for the Digitization Days, including possible venues in each region, a prototype process for digitization, and other appropriate events/activities/programs throughout the day for the public.
Once the task force has completed its work, we will begin Phase II and begin protecting the legacy of these important Tennessee women.
Can you help document the political activity of African American women in history?
This is the driving question behind the work of the Task Force. A date range has not been finalized, but we are considering the time period between 1880-1930. We are also asking the public for any comments, ideas, and leads that may help inform the work of the Task Force.