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The American suffrage movement didn’t just happen in Hartford and Washington, D.C., it happened here in Wilton, too. Emerging out of a long history of women’s rights advocacy and social work in Connecticut and beyond, the women of the Wilton Equal Franchise League followed the lead of their parent organization, the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association, to introduce progressive activism to Wilton. When Hannah Raymond Ambler and other members of the Wilton league hosted Rose Teas on Danbury Road, held a suffrage fair in Wilton Center, or sponsored speeches in Town Hall, they were campaigning to make their hometown a place that lived up to their ideals. Led by league founder Grace Knight Schenck, these women contributed to the eventual success of the quest for suffrage. Accessed through the website of the Wilton Historical Society, the exhibition “Citizens at Last: Hannah Ambler, Grace Schenck and the Vote” is set to open on September 10, 2020.
On November 2, 1920, Hannah Raymond Ambler proudly wrote “It is my first vote” in her daily journal. This triumphant and poignant phrase, underlined for emphasis, captures the voice of just one of the women in Wilton who campaigned for suffrage. Grace Knight Schenck, a force to be reckoned with in the community, was a leader who organized the first women’s suffrage meeting in town. Their last names may be well known in Wilton – Ambler Farm and Schenck’s Island are local landmarks – but their individual lives are not. This exhibition shines a light on Hannah, Grace and other Wilton women who became citizens at last whose stories are at the heart of the on-line exhibition “Citizens at Last: Hannah Ambler, Grace Schenck and the Vote” which joins the national recognition of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote.
“Citizens at Last” explores objects, images, texts, historic costumes, vignettes, and music to illustrate the activities and contributions of Wilton suffragists, which place Wilton’s story in state and national context. The exhibition is divided into sections, most of which are narrated videos. The sections include: Seeds of Discontent: 19th Century Activism; Organizing Sweeps the Nation; Grace Schenck: Wilton’s Yellow Rose; Hannah Ambler: Leading by Example; Grassroots Activism: Tea Rooms to the Ballot Box; Dressing for the Movement; Parades, Poems and Politics; Leave Well Enough Alone; Left Behind: Minority Women and the Vote; Citizens At Last.
This exhibition is part of Wilton’s Centennial Celebrations of the Ratification of the 19th Amendment, as well as the Connecticut 100 Suffrage Centennial program. In lieu of an exhibition entry fee, there is a suggested contribution of $10.
“Citizens at Last: Hannah Ambler, Grace Schenck and the Vote” will be posted on September 10, and available indefinitely on the Wilton Historical Society website: www.wiltonhistorical.org
This exhibition would not be possible without the generous support of the Elizabeth Raymond Ambler Trust.
Contact Name: Nick Foster
Contact Email: email@example.com
Contact Phone: 203-762-7257
$10 Suggested Donation
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT 06897
Parking available on site
Stair Lift Available
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