Agents of Change: Female Activism in Virginia from Women’s Suffrage to Today | Virginia Museum of History & Culture
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Agents of Change: Female Activism in Virginia from Women’s Suffrage to Today

The passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 radically re-defined the meaning of American democracy by banning gender-based restrictions on voting. This landmark legislation marked the culmination of a concerted fight for women’s suffrage and heralded a new age of female participation in American civic life.

Organized in conjunction with the statewide Women’s Suffrage Centennial, this exhibition featuring artifacts from the museum’s vast collections and new acquisitions made through a major collecting initiative, celebrates a century of women’s social and political activism in the Commonwealth. Highlighting the efforts and impact of a selection of female change-makers these women brought about positive change in their communities, the Commonwealth, and the nation. They also created new models of female empowerment and new opportunities for women—ultimately fostering a more inclusive and equal society.

Thank you to our exhibition sponsors: The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. G. Gilmer Minor III and Lynda Johnson Robb.

These Things Can Be Done film poster"These Things Can Be Done" Documentary

A century ago, women were not assured a voice in American democracy. In August 2020, the U.S. celebrates the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. In “These Things Can Be Done,” a new documentary produced by Boedeker Films and VPM with support from the Commonwealth of Virginia's Women's Suffrage Centennial Commemoration in partnership with the VMHC, the often overlooked narrative of women’s suffrage in Virginia is brought to life through rare archival footage, photographs, oral histories, radio broadcasts, and interviews with historians, descendants of suffragists, and modern activists. Watch the trailer now at and mark your calendar for the August 13 premiere!

Agents of Change Online Exhibition

Explore our online exhibition of Agents of Change: Female Activism in Virginia from Women’s Suffrage to Today with a 360-degree virtual tour. 

Today's Agents of Change Photo Project

Agents of Change -- Contemporary women activists pose in the same place on the Virginia Capitol grounds as suffragists did in 1915.In association with the Agents of Change exhibition, the VMHC engaged a group of contemporary “agents of change” to recreate an iconic 1915 photograph of the Virginia suffrage movement (seen at the top of this page). About 100 years after the original was taken, the VMHC brought together a group of contemporary “agents of change” to recreate the image. Although not a comprehensive picture, this 2020 portrait captures the dynamism and diversity of female activism in Virginia today.⁠

The photograph was unveiled at the VMHC on Sunday, March 8, 2020 to celebrate the opening of Agents of Change and International Women’s Day. The photograph will be displayed at the VMHC during 2020.

Learn more about the project and participants.

Mimosa flowerIs there a woman whose activism has inspired you? 
Consider honoring a woman in your life with a mimosa tribute gift! Help us fill the museum with mimosas celebrating the women who have impacted your life by making a gift of $50 to the VMHC today. Learn more and make a gift here.

The VMHC is also collecting stories and items that celebrate Virginia women as drivers of change. Share your stories and items here.

Exhibition Information

Sun Mar 8 2020, 10:00amSun Nov 1 2020, 5:00pm
Daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
In Stern Family Gallery

In the museum shop

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For four centuries, Virginia women have made history that is both important and inspiring. This engaging narrative is based on recent scholarly work as well as research in original records.
This engaging nonfiction book, complete with black-and-white interior illustrations, covers everything from the history of women's rights in the U.S. to women's suffrage movements across the world.