Throwback Thursday – Kentucky Women Rising at the Kentucky Museum

The Kentucky Museum is home to several rotating exhibits and uniquely Kentucky stories. One of the current exhibits features the history of Kentucky women in politics and social activism, tracing nearly 200 years of female achievements. Available both virtually and in-person, museum visitors can experience the “Kentucky Women Rising” exhibit.

The passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920 granted women the right to vote, but Kentucky women were active in politics long before the suffrage movement. The exhibit goes as far back as the 1830s, when Kentucky passed a new law allowing any widow or female over 21 who paid property tax the right to vote in school system elections. But many counties denied this right.

In 1874, Mildred Summers Lucas became the first woman elected to a political office in the state—as Daviess County Jailer. In 1900, Kentucky was the 23rd state to ratify the 19th Amendment. It’s estimated that more than 4,000 women nationwide had run for office by that time, and 75 percent had won at the local level. 

Museum visitors learn more about how race and social class spurred more activism after the suffrage movement. Women were now reaching for more equal opportunities in education and employment by the 1960s. Discover the first Kentucky women to be elected a Sheriff, to the House of Representatives, Secretary of State and more.

The exhibit launched to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment and covers events all the way up to 2020. It is comprised of items from the Rath-Westerman collection and the America United/Divided Project.