A new traveling exhibit from the Wisconsin Historical Society honors and celebrates the 100th anniversary of the suffrage movement, culminating with the 19th amendment that gives women the right to vote.
The display, titled “We Stand on their Shoulders,” will open Tuesday at the Rassbach Museum in Menomonie.
Melissa Kneeland, the museum’s executive director, noted that the amendment was ratified on Aug. 26, 1920. She said it was important to have the exhibit come to the region.
“It’s important because, although 100 years seems like a long time ago, it’s living memory for some people,” Kneeland said. “These rights aren’t necessarily going to be around if we aren’t vigilant.”
Kneeland said the collection is set up in a gallery space used for traveling exhibits. It features multiple panels describing the suffrage movement, historical buttons, along with news clippings from the Dunn County News.
“The history of suffrage is complicated, and doesn’t include everyone,” Kneeland said. “They show the fight for suffrage and the politics on both sides.”
Kneeland noted that even though the amendment passed in 1920, a variety of maneuvers from literacy tests to poll taxes to immigration status restrictions kept women from voting for decades after the amendment was ratified. She enjoys talking to youths about this era and seeing their reactions.
“It’s a wonderful thing that young people today can’t comprehend there was a time they couldn’t vote,” she said.
Reservations are required to take the tour. Tours start on the hour, and people will have 45 minutes to go through the exhibit.
Kneeland said she’s pleased the exhibit was able to move forward, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The gallery space will be cleaned after each session.
“I’m so excited and appreciative the Wisconsin Historical Society puts together these traveling exhibits,” she said.