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Suffrage Museum Donation

Tennessee Woman Suffrage History needs a home of its own.

Tennessee cast the final vote in one of the most important legislative battles in American History. Never before, nor since, has our democracy expanded to include 27 million new citizen voters by the sheer will and determination of the unrepresented.

Tennessee not only played an important role, it delivered the decisive final crucial ratification that brought the 72 year struggle for women’s vote to victory—a victory deeply rooted in East Tennessee. In one of the most raucous and heated legislative sessions on record, the state’s youngest legislator, Harry T. Burn, (from East Tennessee) heeded the plea of his mother, Febb Burn (also from East Tennessee), and at the last minute switched from his intended anti-suffrage vote to vote in favor of ratification. He broke the tie in the Tennessee legislature and with that vote 27 million women were enfranchised.



All their sacrifice and enormous contribution to making ours a “more perfect union” was nearly forgotten by all but a few scholars. Seventy five years after the ratification, Tennessee had no memorials to those women, not even a bust or a plaque in the Capitol. The average Tennessean did not know the role Tennessee played in the great awakening to fuller democracy. Few Tennesseans could name a single one of the many women who sacrificed so much of their time , energy and resources to secure a vote for over half of this country. Memories faded, stories were lost.

With the lost memories, the chance for Tennessee to take pride in its important contribution was lost. More importantly, the chance for young girls, women and all those who have been or feel they have been sidelined in this democracy to find inspiration and hope was lost as well.

Now their stories of struggle, sacrifice, heartbreak, betrayal, persistence and ultimately victory need to told in their own words. We need to know their names. We need to draw from their strength. We need to honor them.

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