Last week, the National Womans Party announced the gift of its historic collection spanning womens suffrage and the movement for womens equality to the Library of Congress
and National Park Service. This gift comes as the country celebrates 100 years of women's constitutional right to vote and ensures public access to a trove of records about the history of the womens rights movement in the United States.
This gift builds on established relationships between the NWP and the Library of Congress and the National Park Service. The Library of Congress, already the repository for a large majority of the NWP papers and related womens history collections, will serve as the home for the remainder of the NWPs records approximately 310,000 documents, 100 scrapbooks, 50 political cartoons, 4,500 photographs documenting the movement, 750 volumes of periodicals, 2,400 books from the NWPs Florence Bayard Hilles Library, and other paper and digital materials. The records, dating from the 1860s to the 2010s, include correspondence, administrative files, minutes of meetings, reports, financial and legal records, printed material, a legislative card file, posters and broadsides and other items. The Florence Bayard Hilles Library collection, considered the oldest feminist library in the United States, includes monographs and serials dating from 1720 to 2014.
Complementing the generous donation of these materials was the Librarys purchase of 167 original political cartoons by the NWPs lead illustrator Nina Allender. The Library of Congress curatorial and digitization resources will ensure wider availability of these and other materials throughout the collection.
American history is not complete without womens history, and the Library of Congress is honored to preserve these original records, photographs, drawings and scrapbooks that document the history of womens rights and the fight for equality, said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. We will be proud to make this historic collection of the National Womans Party available to the nation alongside our other extensive collections of manuscripts, prints and photographs.
The National Park Service will receive the NWPs textiles, banners, furniture, paintings, sculpture and other artifacts. Notable examples include the banners held by women picketing the White House for suffrage; an original Jailed for Freedom Pin that Alice Paul gave to NWP members who served time in jail; keys to the District of Columbia jail where picketing suffragists were incarcerated; and Susan B. Anthonys desk.
The National Park Service will continue to operate the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument, the National Womans Partys historic headquarters, which was gifted to the National Park Service by the NWP in 2016 when it was designated a national monument. Much of the collection being gifted to the National Park Service is currently on display at the monument, where it will continue to be accessible to the public through the permanent exhibit and specially curated exhibitions.
We are proud to accept this gift from the National Womans Party and become stewards of these priceless objects on behalf of the American people, said Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks. As we mark the centennial of the 19th Amendment, these furnishings and artifacts will help visitors to Belmont-Paul Womens Equality National Monument understand the struggles of the National Womans Party and their critical work on behalf of womens suffrage and equality in all walks of American life.
The National Womans Party was in the vanguard of the womens suffrage and equal rights movements, and we are honored to gift this treasured collection to the American public so that the hard-fought battles for womens rights are not forgotten, said Susan Carter, president of the Board of Directors of the National Womans Party. Our goal is to ensure the NWPs history is preserved and made widely available to researchers and the public for posterity, an effort that began with designation of our headquarters as a National Monument in 2016. We are grateful to the Library of Congress and National Park Service for their commitment to preserving and sharing this iconic history.
Founded in 1913 by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, the National Womans Party led the fight for womens suffrage and later for equal rights for women. In 1923, Alice Paul and her colleagues drafted the original Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, still being pursued today. The innovative tactics by NWP members marching, picketing, organizing and successfully changing discriminatory laws at the local, state, federal and international levels are chronicled in the historic collection that has been carefully preserved over the last century.