This project builds on a Foundation tradition of interviewing politically active women in DC to capture their experiences and insights. These oral histories served as the basis for Jewell Fenzi and Allida Black’s book, Democratic Women, an Oral History of the Woman’s National Democratic Club (2000). The project will help the Foundation reestablish its oral history program and in the process train volunteers and build capacity to conduct these interviews on an ongoing basis. The immediate project will record the oral histories of 30 women leaders from across the Washington, DC area who were born in the two decades following the establishment of women’s suffrage. It will allow these women to tell their stories in their own voices and enrich our understanding of the impact and challenges of suffrage on individual women.

The oral history project will be carried out by project staff and trained volunteers associated with the Foundation with the guidance of an advisory board chaired by a scholar from the Department of History of American University and the co-authors of Democratic Women. In conjunction with the DC history program, five senior girls from the Richard Wright Charter School for Media and Communication Arts will participate in the project and will learn and document how to conduct oral histories. Volunteers and students will also be able to work with the Wikimedia Foundation to enhance the representation of Washington women in Wikipedia with a focus on DC African American suffragists.

The results will be disseminated in several ways through transcripts, archives, podcasts and a digital exhibit. The interviews will be transcribed and indexed so they can be searched and analyzed; then they will be uploaded to a digital archive where they will be available to scholars and researchers. The oral histories will also be used to update and expand Democratic Women.


Democratic Women: An Oral History of the Woman’s National Democratic Club, by Jewell Fenzi and Allida Black, was an oral history project, edited from interviews with more than 50 club members, including Daisy Harriman, Esther Peterson, Lindy Boggs, and Ellie Seagraves (granddaughter of Eleanor Roosevelt). The book, now out of print, will be revised and expanded in 2020, Women and the Vote: Centennial Calendar. An 18-month calendar (July 2019 to December 2020) was published June 4, 2019 in recognition of the passage of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. It is illustrated with historic photos and factoids about the struggle to gain the vote for allwomen from 1776 to the present. Click SHOP.

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