Lippitt House Museum's 19th Amendment Commemoration

This year Lippitt House Museum commemorates the centennial of the 19th Amendment with programs that feature women and draw attention to the long struggle for universal suffrage. Ratified by the states in 1920, the 19th Amendment stated a person’s right to vote can’t be denied because of sex. Throughout 2020, Lippitt House Museum will highlight this important milestone with themed programs, tours, concerts, and a special installation.

The march towards universal adult suffrage was a winding path in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Lippitt family and the servants who lived and labored at 199 Hope Street witnessed and participated in the changes. During Henry Lippitt’s tenure as governor, foreign born veterans were given the vote in Rhode Island. However when he ran for governor in 1875, William Mason the Lippitt family’s waiter, was the only other person, besides 27 year-old son Charles, in the household of 14 who was eligible to vote in the election. The three daughters, the 18 year-old son, the foreign born servants, and even Henry’s wife Mary Ann Balch Lippitt could not participate in the election.

A lesser known part of the “Votes for Women” movement was the anti-suffrage campaign which was supported by several members of the Lippitt family. Middle daughter Mary Lippitt Steedman (1858-1938) was against women’s suffrage and even petitioned the United Sates House of Representatives to not extend the vote to women. Daughter-in-law Margaret Farnum Lippitt (1860-1940) was a leader in Rhode Island’s anti-suffrage campaign. She promoted her position at public forums debating suffragist leaders and testified at a Rhode Island General Assembly committee hearing. As exemplified in the Lippitt family, even though women were not a unified political block on the issue of suffrage they still made their voices heard in the political sphere.

But even with the Constitutional voting protections of the 15th and 19th Amendments as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965, there are still threats to voter participation today. Part of Lippitt House Museum’s mission is to encourage people to be civically engaged in their communities. The goals of the museum’s 19th Amendment Centennial programing is to raise awareness about the past struggles for voting rights and encourage people to protect and exercise their vote today. The work isn’t done—we’re still at!


Lippitt House Museum is a partner in the statewide XIX: Shall Not Be Denied initiative organized by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and the Rhode Island Department of State commemorating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage by promoting civic literacy and engagement.



Community Discussion Series

For the 5th year in a row, Lippitt House Museum is partnering with the Providence League of Women Voters to host a Community Discussion Series. This year’s line-up commemorates the 19th Amendment asking the question, “In the last 100 years, what progress has been made on the issues promoted by suffragists—not only voting access but also criminal justice reform and equal pay?” The 2020 discussion series addresses issues suffragists fought for and how we can take action and promote change on matters still important 100 years later.  Visit the Lippitt House Museum Events Calendar for more information on the Community Discussion Series.


Hunter Music Series

The 2020 concert season highlights women performers and celebrates the voices of women through the lens of American roots music.  Visit the Lippitt House Museum Events Calendar for more information and tickets for the Hunter Music Series.


House Tours and Special Installation

This year’s tours of Lippitt House explore the gradual expansion of suffrage in the 19th and 20th centuries and how voting rights impacted Lippitt family members and servants as well as threats to voting rights today.  Visit the Lippitt House Museum Events Calendar for more information and event registration for the special installation.  Go to Lippitt House Museum Visit page for more information about tours. 

The bicycle became a symbol of the women’s rights movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Both Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are credited with declaring "woman is riding to suffrage on the bicycle."  


Photo - Abby Lippitt Hunter on the Lippitt House lawn, 1890s