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Exhibition Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote

“Naught Can Ye Win But by Faith and Daring,” sateen banner with lettering, between 1913 and 1920. On loan from the National Woman’s Party at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument (089.04.00)

National Woman’s Party tricolor banners, between 1913 and 1920. On loan from the National Woman’s Party at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument (089.02.00, 089.03.00)
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Political Spectacle and the Importance of Banners

Suffrage banners transformed traditionally masculine streetscapes into colorful spaces of female empowerment. During parades, banners identified who was marching and why. When picketing, they were simple but effective rhetorical devices to convey disapproval and pressure politicians. Painstakingly sewn, they often contained thought-provoking or inspirational messages, like the “Faith and Daring” example shown here, lifted from verse four of Dame Ethel Smyth’s famous anthem of the suffrage movement, The March of Women. Even wordless banners, such as these tricolor flags, conveyed meaning by signaling the bearer’s allegiance to the National Woman’s Party, whose purple, white, and gold colors suggested a connection to militant British suffragism.

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