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SMC alum discusses NWP tactics

Sarah Mayer | Monday, March 31, 2008

Saint Mary’s alumnus and curator of the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum Danielle Taylor discussed the protest tactics used by the National Women’s Party (NWP) during the suffrage movement in the early 20th century, including peacefully picketing the White House, in her lecture Saturday at the Science Hall.

Sewall-Belmont House & Museum displays permanent exhibits of women’s suffrage and equal rights memorabilia in Washington D.C.

According to Taylor, the strategies used by the NWP now serve as models protestors today.

“Their tactics have evolved to be very relevant in today’s society,” she said.

The NWP was “the first group to peacefully picket the White House,” Taylor said.

Over 2,000 picketers were arrested during nationwide demonstrations. They were also the first group to demand status as political prisoners in U.S. history, Taylor said.

In addition, women attempted to dispel the image of “dainty, Victorian figures,” Taylor said. Figures such as Joan of Arc became symbols of suffragist parades.

The party also utilized the media, establishing a weekly newspaper called “The Suffragist,” to guarantee coverage of women’s issues.

Political cartoons in the newspaper portrayed women as bound and gagged by Uncle Sam, Taylor said.

After 1920, when women earned the right to vote, party leaders focused attention on the Equal Rights Amendment.

The party also developed the “Congressional Card Index,” which listed the names of the congressmen’s favorite restaurants, their wives’ names and their positions on women’s rights.

The lecture was sponsored by the Saint Mary’s College Women’s Studies and History Departments.