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Exhibition Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote

Suffragist cap and cape. National Woman’s Party, between 1913 and 1917. On loan from the National Woman’s Party at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument (086.00.00, 086.01.00)
Winsor McCay. Suffrage March Line—How Thousands of Women Parade Today at Capitol. New York Evening Journal, March 4, 1913. Serial and Government Publications Division, Library of Congress. (336.00.00)

Effective Political Theater or Meaningless Pageantry?

Early suffrage parades, hoping to dazzle onlookers, attract recruits, and grab legislators’ attention, were as much theatrical processions as political protests. Women marched in well-identified groups by state or occupation, often wearing special color-coordinated outfits, such as this purple, white, and gold cape and cap associated with the Congressional Union (later National Woman’s Party). One suffragist, referring to this outfit or an earlier ensemble, suggested she might skip the March 3, 1913, parade rather than “march in disguise” and wear a “purple cap and cape,” which overshadowed marchers’ “individuality.”