“WHY NOT? WOMEN GAIN THE RIGHT TO VOTE”
This exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of American women winning the right to vote and takes a closer look at what was happening on the local level in Falmouth. Its title comes from a letter Falmouth native Katharine Lee Bates wrote to the Lewiston Journal in 1917. The well-known professor, poet and author of “America the Beautiful” argued:
“Why not? Women are tax-payers, patriots, workers for every national cause,—why not citizens? Women may and do express their opinions freely on public questions, in home and school, from the platform and in the press,–why not through the ballot?”
The exhibit features a timeline of Falmouth suffrage and photos and memorabilia of outstanding local women who played a role in the movement. Women like Sylvia Donaldson, the first woman elected to the Massachusetts state legislature in 1923. She was born and buried in Falmouth. Mary (Dodd) Craig, Helen (Stone) Howland, Nellie (Powers) Burgess, Lena (Slawson) Drew and Zoulyne (Swindell) Milligan were also part of the pro-suffrage contingent.
Political cartoons and arguments for and against suffrage spark the debate and reveal some surprises. Mrs. Maisie (David) Weeks (1875-1946) owned a successful shop on Main Street for decades and employed several women there. Yet, from 1913-1915, the pioneering businesswoman is listed as the Falmouth contact person for the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women.
2020 WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE COMMEMORATION PROGRAMMING
“Gaining the Vote: The Road to Women’s Suffrage” Virtual Series
August 2020 marks the centennial of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing American women the right to vote. The Museums on the Green has been awarded a Discussion Grant from Mass Humanities/the National Endowment for the Humanities to support “Gaining the Vote: The Road to Women’s Suffrage,” a series of virtual talks and performances highlighting the long road to women’s suffrage. We’ll feature upcoming programs in our Calendar as they become available.
Mabel (Channing) Robinson
In 1914, Mabel (Channing) Robinson read a paper in favor of women’s suffrage at St. Barnabas Church in Falmouth. The Enterprise reported that the discussion was quite animated and that most in attendance were not in favor of suffrage. Born in New Bedford c1873, Mabel retired to Falmouth after a career on the stage. She appeared on Broadway in “A Runaway Girl,” and in the London production of “The Belle of New York” (1898). She was remembered mostly for her dancing; friends called her “Twinkletoes.” Near the end of her life, the Enterprise published this interview with her.
ABOVE: The advertisement of a dancer at Alhambra shows how Mabel would have been costumed for some of her shows. The taupe satin shoes, with leather interior and sole and Alexander of NY label (c1900), were typical of what Mabel would have worn.
LEFT: Mabel is not in this picture of a production of The Belle of New York. She wasn’t in the chorus, as shown here, but played a supporting role, with her own musical number in Act One. T