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Americans are navigating unfamiliar territory as we work to make sure our primary and general elections go smoothly. Many states have begun planning for social distanced voting practices and encouraging voting by mail or absentee ballot.
Voting might be a little strange this year, and it might take more effort than usual—but it is so important to remember that our right to vote was not always guaranteed. For most of American history, suffrage has been restricted by class, race, and gender. Thousands fought desperately for each of us to be able to make our voices heard.
From the Collection: 100 Years of Suffrage Virtual Installation
Gertrude Weil (far left) and fellow suffragists, circa 1920. Courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina
This year is the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which allowed women to vote in the 1920 election. Generations of women like North Carolina’s Gertrude Weil fought tirelessly for this right.
The daughter of a successful Jewish immigrant, Weil became involved with the women’s club movement soon after graduating from college. In local clubs like hers, middle-class women shared educational and cultural opportunities and tackled community problems together, carried by a shared belief that they had a moral obligation to improve their communities. Many clubwomen were also motivated to work for women’s suffrage, and in 1915, Weil assumed a leadership role in the North Carolina Equal Suffrage League.
Her own state didn’t get around to ratifying the 19th Amendment until 1971, but Weil could vote when it became the law of the land in 1920. Weil turned her attention to other social justice issues, helping to desegregate her hometown of Goldsboro, NC and working to rescue Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe.
This week, we’re celebrating the centennial of the House of Representatives passing the Nineteenth Amendment, which guaranteed a woman's right to vote. However, it was a long and difficult road to this victory that started long before that pivotal legislation passed on May 21, 1919.
Write a postcard to a friend sharing a person who has inspired you. Click the link above for more details. Tag #NMAJH and #HistoryAtHome to let us know who inspires you!
May is Jewish American Heritage Month!
It is Jewish American Heritage Month for two more weeks...and it's never too late join the celebration!
Now it's easier than ever to connect to the national JAHM celebration and post to your own social media channels. Check out oure-social media kitfor easy posting directly to your own feed. The kit features a curated selection of artifacts from Museum's collection -- including the fabulous photo of Gertrude Weil and her fellow suffragists above, JAHM logo, and more.
The Plot Against America: Antisemitism Run Amok WHEN: Thursday, May 21, 2020 AT 6 PM (ET) WHERE: Facebook.com/NMAJH
In the counterfactual novel The Plot Against America, the basis for the recent HBO series, Phillip Roth imagined an America where antisemitism ran amok. But the many historic events depicted on the page and screen reveal the deep currents of antisemitism coursing through American life in the 1930s and 1940s. They serve as sobering reminders of a past when America’s Jews responded to antisemitism, just as they must again today.
Michael Berenbaum, Independent Consultant for museums and historical films; professor of Jewish Studies and director of the Sigi Ziering Institute, American Jewish University in Los Angeles
Pamela S. Nadell, Professor and Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s & Gender History, American University.
To watch: Look for the LIVE post on the National Museum of American Jewish History’s Facebook page at 6pm EDT. This program will also be available at NMAJH.org via a pop-up message on the homepage shortly before 6pm EST.
Please note that audience Q&A is only available on Facebook during the live program.
This program is part of our JAHM Scholar Series on Crises & Resilience in American Jewish History. You do not need a Facebook account to view this program. Free. Donations welcome.