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August 18, 2020

Pennsylvania Women and the Vote

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which made it illegal to deny citizens the right to vote based on sex. As we commemorate this landmark anniversary, let’s look back at some of the Pennsylvania women who fought hard to make women’s suffrage a reality. The impact of these women, along with countless others in Western Pa. and beyond, can still be felt today.

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July 3, 2020

Exploring Images of John Brown

Perhaps more than any other figure connected with abolitionist cause in America, John Brown was a polarizing presence, depicted as demon or martyr depending upon the goals of the artist and the intended audience. An image featured in the new exhibition Smithsonian’s Portraits of Pittsburgh: Works from the National Portrait Gallery emphasizes Brown’s resurrected image after the Civil War, when the Union victory confirmed for many the merits of his purpose even if they disapproved of his methods. The print reminds us that portraits are not neutral images. They are artifacts of a certain time and place, shaped by the motives of creators and sitters and geared to the expectations of specific audiences.

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June 4, 2020

Resilience in Ruffles: A New Look at Pittsburgh’s Suffrage Shirtwaist Ball

While the Shirtwaist Ball’s basic story has been told, examining it more closely within the context of the suffrage movement and anti-suffrage imagery underlines the resilience of the Pennsylvania women who sponsored it and who fought so long and creatively for women’s right to vote.

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