A Voice of Her Own: South Carolina Women in Politics

This year the museum is celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote. This exhibit features objects, images and stories showing the ways South Carolina women engaged with the political history of our state. From tribal women leaders, to the first female Governor of the state, this exhibit shows how women worked to gain a voice of their own.

Join us for 8 episodes traveling through South Carolina’s rich history, escorted by exhibit curator Joann Zeise. For those of us staying close to home during a time of pandemic, this let’s all enjoy a small sampling of the exhibit right now. 

Episode 1: Welcome & Overview 
Episode 2: Native Women
Episode 3: Colonial and Revolutionary Era Women
Episode 4: The Civil War and Reconstruction
Episode 5: The Fall of Reconstruction and Rise of Jim Crow Created Missed Opportunities for Women’s Suffrage
Episode 6: Suffrage in South Carolina
Episode 7: Mid Century
Episode 8: Modern Era
Episode 9: Conclusion & Use Your Voice!

Since women have long been outside politics, the objects in this exhibit show how the personal is the political. A prehistoric scraper tells the story of how native women have a long tradition of being equal with men and powerful in tribal politics. Sherds of porcelain from a colonial plantation are an example of property, which women could spend their lives building, but not control or own. While a tag that a Charleston enslaved woman was forced to wear underlines that some women were property, whose work built the base of South Carolina political power.

The Civil War and Reconstruction caused great political upheaval, but South Carolina women who wanted political power found themselves disappointed. The early 20th century found an imperfect coalition of suffragettes working for a national amendment to give women the right to vote. You can see a “Votes for Women” banner that belonged to USC student, Shirley Black, while posing in our suffragette selfie station. A wide variety of political material from the 20th century shows how women have always had diverse political opinions and concerns not captured within any one political party.

Today, the physical exhibition is limited to 100 people/day for in-person visitation. 

Date of Exhibition:
Open now at SC State Museum and through at least September 2020. See more exhibits online.

Time of Exhibition
Tues. – Fri: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. • Sat: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. • Sun: 12 – 5 p.m.Masks required. 

Location of Exhibition
SC State Museum, 301 Gervais Street, Columbia, SC 29201

Special rules for visiting the Museum during the pandemic.

Special thanks to Betsy Breckinridge, former TV talk show host and volunteer videographer who also helped write all the summaries of our vignettes. And to Joann Zeise, cultural history curator extraordinaire of the A Voice of Her Own: South Carolina Women in Politics exhibit for the SC State Museum and woman who delivers much wisdom through her understanding of history.

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