Celebrating the 19th Amendment

In Events, News

Women's Right to Vote

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the right to vote, a struggle for equality that spanned decades. Massachusetts played an essential role in the movement and was home to many renowned suffragists, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, and Lucretia Mott. The Associates was proud to support the conservation and digitization of manuscripts relating to the suffrage movement, documents that continue to be relevant today.


Victory Map 1919 from the Norman Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library


Letter from Sojourner Truth to William Lloyd Garrison, August 28, 1851

Onward-Votes for Women
To commemorate this historic anniversary, the Associates commissioned ONWARD-Votes for Women, a documentary play, which incorporates the rich letters and materials from BPL’s Special Collections, among other sources. The play was made possible by the Associates' endowed Pierce Performance Series, which is dedicated to highlighting the treasures in the Library’s Special Collections. The play includes direct excerpts from manuscripts in the collections.
“The letters written by Lucy Stone, Francis Jackson, and William Lloyd Garrison inspired and infused the content of our documentary play, ONWARD - Votes for Women. History comes alive to our cast and production team - and we hope our audience as well - through these wonderful materials,” Lisa Rafferty, director of ONWARD, said about the importance of the Special Collections in the development of her script.
Connecting the twentieth-century pieces to today is a cast of local and national actors, including Joyce Kulhawik, Thomika Bridwell, and Leigh Barrett. The Library’s holdings were not only a critical influence on the script, but they also provided inspiration for the music. “Our music director and composer, Adam McDonald, used a BPL Research Library book, "Suffragist Sheet Music: an Illustrated Catalog of Published Music Associated with the Women's Rights and Suffrage Movement in America" to arrange songs from the era which add context, insights, and levity to our production,” Rafferty said of the music in the play.


The premier of ONWARD, which was schedule for this year, has been delayed because of the pandemic to the summer of 2021. In the meantime, please enjoy the video teasers below. To learn more about the performance, please visit our Pierce Performance webpage.