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“The Work Must Be Done:” Women of Color and the Right to Vote

Thursday, April 23 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm |

Inspired by the words of notable African American reformer and political activist, Mary Townsend Seymour, “The work must be done,” the Connecticut Historical Society presents exciting new research about the women of color who worked for women’s suffrage.

Ilene Frank, Chief Curator, and Karen Li Miller, Research Historian at the Connecticut Historical Society, with Professor Brittney Yancy, Goodwin College, will present new research about Connecticut’s women of color who were involved in the woman suffrage movement, such as Mary Townsend Seymour, Rose Payton, Minnie Glover, Daisy Daniels, and others. The program will include conversation on the importance of having a history that is inclusive and participants will examine how this history ties into current civic issues around voting.

Program is included with museum admission. Free for CHS members. Light refreshments will be served. Please let us know you’re coming by calling (860) 236-5621 x238 or emailing rsvp@chs.org.

Questions? Contact Natalie Belanger, Adult Programs Manager, at natalie_belanger@chs.org.


As the nation, and Connecticut, prepare to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment which legalized women’s right to vote, attention is growing about the critical need to identify and raise up the stories of the women of color who participated in the fight for suffrage and those who, like their white counterparts, were against the enfranchisement of women.  Historically, research about the fight to win the right to vote has focused on the white women who were both for and against this act. Due to the internalized racism of many of the national and state-wide suffrage organizations, women of color, and particularly African American women, were denied agency within these activist organizations. This does not mean that women of color were not involved in the fight for and against suffrage. They absolutely were. Women of color were active leaders who developed their own associations, both nationwide and state-based, to achieve social and political reforms, including working for woman suffrage.

This presentation will also be offered at multiple locations and times around the state, including:

Otis Library, Norwich (in partnership with Prudence Crandall Museum): Monday, April 27, 2020, 6pm

Stonington Historical Society, Stonington: Saturday, May 9, 2020, 11am

Litchfield Historical Society, Litchfield :Thursday, May 21, 2020, Noon

Lockwood-Mathews Mansion, Norwalk: Thursday, June 11, 2020, 5:30pm

New Haven Museum, New Haven: Tuesday, June 23, 2020, 5:30pm

Funding for this project is made possible by the State of Connecticut and the National Endowment for the Humanities, both of which provide significant support to Connecticut Humanities.


Image: Group of Women at Shiloh Baptist Church, 1916-1927, photograph by William G. Dudley, 1995.36.1194

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To support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Connecticut Historical Society is closed to the public through July 31. All on-site programs and events are canceled during this time. Our Annual Meeting has been postponed until September 14. Click here for CHS's digital programs.