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Exhibition Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote

Lillian E. Whitteker (1881–1978). “Little Suffragist Doll.” Pattern in cotton fabric with accompanying Buy-a-Bale card. Breckinridge Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (080.00.00)
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Lillian E. Whitteker (1881–1978). “Little Suffragist Doll.” Pattern in cotton fabric with accompanying Buy-a-Bale card. Breckinridge Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (080.01.00)
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Suffragist Sewing Kit. Printed gold fabric. On loan from Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Initially from the NAWSA Records, Library of Congress (080.02.00)
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Suffrage Dolls and the Buy-a-Bale Campaign

Cincinnati artist Lillian E. Whitteker designed this doll pattern in 1914, presumably as part of the nation’s spontaneous Buy-a-Bale movement, intended to ease the calamitous drop in cotton prices caused by the wartime disruption of export markets in Europe. Attempting to curry favor for suffrage in the South, Anna Howard Shaw sent $50 checks to fourteen of NAWSA’s state associations to buy bales of cotton. Simultaneously she urged Southern textile manufacturers to eliminate child labor, adding a touch of irony to the Little Suffragist Doll, which is paired here with a suffrage sewing kit displaying the oft-quoted nineteenth-century poem of undetermined authorship, “Woman’s Sphere.”

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