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A Modern Twist On The Historic White House Suffrage Pickets

Inspired by the experiences and words of two Tennessee Picketers—Mary Church Terrell and Sue Shelton White—a Watchfire is a lively and engaging program that introduces audiences to the women and words behind the Suffrage Movement.

Featured are diverse historical readings ranging from Anti-Suffrage Pamphlets to the NAACP’s The Crisis Magazine. The program relies on audience participation and is complete with a cauldron ceremony. Audiences will hear some of the most outlandish arguments of the time against suffrage, as well as the words of suffrage leaders demanding votes for women.

I learned so much in so little time. And it makes me just proud to be a woman.”

Madelyn Scales Harris, Vice Mayor of Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Book a Watchfire for your 2020 Suffrage Programming!

aauw-tn-state-convention-2018-9-768x354As the 19th Amendment Centennial approaches, many venues are looking for programming that will offer new perspectives on the Suffrage Movement. The Watchfire Program is a facilitated program that meets several Guiding Principles set forth by the American Association for State and Local History’s guidelines for interpreting suffrage history:

  • Acknowledging Divisions and Historical Reality
  • Elevating Multiple Perspectives
  • Recognizing Today’s Intersectional Audience
  • Looking Beyond the Iconic Story

“It meant a lot for me, being a woman and being a woman of color, it just really covered the spectrum of what it means to be a woman in America.”

University of Tennessee Martin, undergraduate student

A Watchfire Program can be tailored to your venues specific needs, and is perfect for any of the following:

  • Museums, sites, libraries, etc. looking for programming that will expand their interpretation plans
  • Women’s Groups and Networking Organizations
  • Corporate Team Building
  • Women and Diversity Centers at Colleges and Universities

Don’t have a suffrage site? Still want to do something for 2020? Book a Watchfire and you can still offer suffrage programming to your members and visitors!


I absolutely loved the program. It ties together the past, the present, and the future. And being able to read the words, real words written at the time, on both sides of the argument, and being able to see that relevance today is important for everyone to remember how far we’ve come.

Kimberly Church, CEO, American Association of University Women (AAUW)

The Historical Watchfire

In 1917, the National Woman’s Party began picketing the White House to pressure President Woodrow Wilson to support the 19th Amendment – votes for women. Silent Sentinels, as they were known, picketed in shifts around the clock. Placing a giant cauldron in front of the White House, suffragists kept a perpetual fire ablaze to burn effigies and hypocritical speeches of the President. These protests became known as Watchfires. Hundreds of women picketed and dozens were jailed over this period in their fight for the vote. In 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified by the final state—Tennessee—and became law of the land.

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About the Tennessee Picketers

Mary Church Terrell (1863–1954) was one of the first African American women to earn a college degree, and was a national activist for civil rights and suffrage. Born in Memphis, TN, she was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Sue Shelton White (1887–1943) was a lawyer originally from Henderson, TN who served as a national leader of the women’s suffrage movement. During the first Watchfire in 1917, Sue Shelton White burned an effigy of President Wilson and was arrested.

Program Fee

The Watchfire is a facilitated program lead by two speakers and developed by Chick History. The program fee includes speaker fees and program supplies.

Fee: $500

A deposit of $100 is due upon booking. The remaining balance, plus any additional fees, is due on the date of your event. See the FAQs page for more information, cancellation policy, and other details.

Ready to book a Suffrage Program your visitors will never forget?

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