Introduction

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“Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes: An Exhibition Marking the 100th Anniversary of the Passage of the 19th Amendment” features over 100 objects from the collections of Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, Helen LaKelly Hunt, and the DeGolyer Library. The exhibit includes materials such as rare books, pamphlets, broadsides, photographs, sheet music, manuscripts, and ephemera documenting the history of the women’s rights movement, from the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) through the 19th century and early 20th century, with emphasis on the roles women played first in the abolitionist movement and then in the suffrage movement. Represented are well-known figures such as the Grimke sisters, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth, as well as more local figures and organizations, such as the Women Suffrage Association of Oklahoma. 

The Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner collection examines the abolition movement as well as women’s suffrage (and the resistance to women's suffrage movement) through the lenses of theology and religion. This collection comprises newspapers, postcards, ephemera, letters, and books dating back to the 1850s and 1860s. These materials document the ways in which women from diverse backgrounds worked together towards the common goal of suffrage, and equal rights. Dr. Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner is an ordained Presbyterian minister and Professor of Pastoral Care and Pastoral Theology at Southern Methodist University. The materials from her collection are featured in her upcoming publication: Women with 2020 Vision: Theologians on the Vote due out this year.

The Helen LaKelly Hunt Collection of American Women Reformers and Writers comprises rare books, pamphlets, letters, photographs, and ephemera that document the women's rights movement in the United States. With an emphasis on the religious, intellectual, and philosophical motivations of women activists, the collection includes female abolitionists and religious reformers. The collection illustrates the American woman's drive for equality, the culmination of nearly 100 years of efforts by women determined to better the lives of other women. Helen LaKelly Hunt is an activist, feminist, and philanthropist. She founded The Sister Fund as a “private women’s fund dedicated to the social, political, economic, and spiritual empowerment of women and girls.” She also co-founded the Texas Women’s Foundation, The New York Women’s Foundation, Women’s Funding Network, and Women Moving Millions.

With an undergraduate degree from SMU and a PhD from Union Theological Seminary, Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt has written extensively on the intersection of religion and women’s rights, including Faith and Feminism: A Holy Alliance (2004) and most recently in And the Spirit Moved Them: The Lost Radical History of America’s First Feminists (2017).  In fact, for both Dr. Hunt and Dr. Stevenson-Moessner the research for their books led to their interest in collecting primary sources of the women’s movement.

The DeGolyer Library is the principal repository at SMU for special collections in the humanities, the history of business, and the history of science and technology. Its holdings include rare books, manuscript collections, photographs, maps, periodical and newspaper titles, and a collection of printed ephemera. DeGolyer collections afford numerous opportunities for interdisciplinary research in such fields as American studies, women’s studies, popular culture, the history of photography, and the history of the book.

We thank Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner and Helen LaKelly Hunt for their generous loans and enthusiastic support. We thank Bonnie Wheeler and Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute, New Feminist Discourses and Social Change for their related programming this fall, "Suffrage in America: The Value of the Vote," part of the Allman Family lecture series. Co-Sponsored by the John Goodwin Tower Center for Public Policy and Internal Affairs, the lecture series brings distinguished speakers to campus to celebrate the achievements in the suffrage movement and also to remind us of the work that lies ahead.