Songs, Exhibit Celebrate 100 Years Of Women’s Suffrage In Springfield

Sep 15, 2020

The history Museum on the Square in downtown Springfield.
Credit History Museum on the Square

The History Museum on the Square is exhibiting Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Part of the exhibit shows a documentary of songs from the suffrage era, compiled by a Springfield researcher.

The traveling exhibit is organized by the Smithsonian Institution, according to the History Museum’s Facebook page. The exhibit documents the suffrage movement in celebration of the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave many women in the United States the right to vote. 

Francie Wolff was a librarian Southwest Missouri State University in the 90s when she read about a train ride in the late 1800s that involved women singing a popular suffrage song to a group of men. Wolff said she looked for other suffrage songs, but found no one had compiled any. She began to look for more. 

“I felt like I was digging for gold," Wolff told KSMU. "I could not believe that this history was unknown.” 

Her research led to an Ozarks Public Television documentary called Give Ballots to the Mothers, as well as a songbook of suffrage-era tunes. 

Wolff shared a protest song from the songbook, which compared denying women suffrage to “taxation without representation.” 

“To tax one who’s not represented // is tyranny, tell if you can // why woman should not have the ballot? // She’s taxed just the same as a man.” 

Wolff’s documentary will be on display at the History Museum, and copies of the songbook will be available for purchase. The exhibit will run through September 27th. Links to the documentary can be found here.