Tennessee played a pivotal role in granting women the right to vote in 1920 as it was the final state needed to ratify the amendment. Ever since then, women have been making impacts in industries from music to sports. Visit these sites that celebrate those women and tell their stories in Tennessee:
The monument in Centennial Park honors the five women present during the final ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920: Anne Dallas Dudley of Nashville; Abby Crawford Milton of Chattanooga; J. Frankie Pierce of Nashville; Sue Shelton White of Jackson; and Carrie Chapman Catt, the national suffrage leader who came to Nashville to direct pro-suffragists from the Hermitage Hotel. Dudley staged a parade through the streets of Nashville with five dozen cars. Businesses displayed banners proclaiming “Votes for Women.”
The Hermitage Hotel was the national headquarters for pro- and anti-suffrage movements. Lobbyists, lawmakers, and journalists were a common sight at the hotel as legislators cast their vote to ratify the 19th Amendment. You can book a stay for luxurious accommodations in the heart of Music City where you can enjoy dinner at the Capitol Grille, turn-down service, in-mirror bathroom TVs, custom cashmere and cotton mattresses and much more.
Touring the permanent exhibitions at the Tennessee State Museum offers visitors insights into the struggles and achievements of the state’s women throughout its history. Beginning with the Forging a Nation Gallery, learn the stories of women like Cherokee farmer Martha Clingnan; First Lady Sarah Childress Polk; and Jenny Blow Washington, an enslaved woman from Robertson County. The Civil War and Reconstruction Gallery chronicles women during this critical time in the state’s and nation’s history. In the Change and Challenge Gallery, visitors can see artifacts like a women’s suffrage banner and learn about Tennesseans’ key roles in the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women throughout the nation the right to vote. The Tennessee Transforms Gallery features the changing lives of women from 1945 to the present, including artifacts related to music artists like Dolly Parton and Tina Turner, and NASA Astronaut Dr. Margaret Rhea Seddon.
Spend a morning or afternoon strolling the 1.8-mile walking trail throughout Liberty Park. Stop by the Wilma Rudolph statue, a commemoration of the Olympic gold medal winner; and the Pat Head Summitt statue, celebrated as the "most winningest" basketball coach in sports history. These accomplished women broke barriers and set records, becoming icons in the sports industry; and, they both called Clarksville home. Interpretive signage provides an in-depth look in their accomplishments and personal lives.
Take a beautiful drive from Nashville to Tullahoma (about 77 miles) for the Beechcraft Heritage Museum that has rich women's history. The world-class, aviation museum dives into some of the earliest aviation in the U.S., with exhibits on Walter H. Beech, founder of Beech Aircraft Company, the Wright Brothers and women in aviation. The idea to found the museum by the Staggerwing Club came from pioneer aviatrix Louise Thaden. Flying a stock 1936 C17R "Staggerwing," she and co-pilot Blance Noyes won first place in the 1936 Bendix Trophy Race, beating out racing professionals and military aircraft in a one-day flight from New York to Los Angeles. Step inside to see early models of the Beech Aircraft including the first Beechcraft "Staggerwing", one of three pre-WWII Twin Beech 18's, Barons, Dukes, King Air and more plane models.
Women's History Stops in the Smokies, Knoxville and Chattanooga
Visit the Sevierville Courthouse to snap a memorable photo with the Dolly Parton statue, erected to honor the Sevierville native who’s been a large influence in music, philanthropy and business. After snapping a photo with the statue, take some time to explore the revitalized downtown. You'll find murals, a self-guided historic walking tour with 40 points of interest, upscale eateries and shops, and a new boutique hotel.
Dolly Parton’s Dollywood is Tennessee’s No. 1 attraction and is home to Wild Eagle, America’s first winged coaster, the wooden coaster Thunderhead, and FireChaser Express, the first dual-launch family coaster in the U.S.; inspiring theatrical shows, concerts, and Dollywood’s Splash Country, the waterpark that houses the more than 20 water slides and splash pads. Parton expanded her attractions list to also include the resort, Dollywood DreamMore Resort – a family-in-mind designed hotel with large rooms, storytelling, live music and s’mores by fires each night. Dolly Parton’s Stampede and Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures Dinner & Show round out the entertainment the icon that is Dolly Parton has created in the Great Smoky Mountains.
The memorial in Market Square downtown honors three women who campaigned for the state to ratify the 19th Amendment to give women the right to vote: Elizabeth Avery Meriweather of Memphis, Lizzie Crozier French of Knoxville, and Anne Dallas Dudley of Nashville. Alan LeQuire designed the sculpture, commissioned by the Suffrage Coalition.
Before you enter the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, check out the world’s largest basketball on the roof of the museum. The Baden Ball is 30 feet tall and weighs 10 tons. Step inside where the museum recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of some of women’s basketball’s greatest players and their contributions to the sport. Test your skills on three different courts, a passing skills area and a timed dribbling course. Additionally, make your way to the University of Tennessee’s campus where you’ll find the University of Tennessee Pat Summitt Plaza, a permanent tribute to one of the all-time winning coaches in sports history.
Established to honor the “Empress of the Blues” Bessie Smith, you can see rare photographs and memorabilia, hearing her story and the great impact she had on the music industry. The Bessie Smith Performance Hall hosts performances, community events and various meetings. Tickets to the center are $7 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and students and $3 for children 6-12 years old.
Women's History in Memphis and Surrounding Areas
Learn the powerful story of how a small town Tennessee girl rose to international stardom. Tina Turner, a Nutbush, Tennessee native, is honored at the Tina Turner Museum at Flagg Grove School on the grounds of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center. In the original one-room schoolhouse Turner attended as a girl, you can see authentic school desks, chalkboards and many articles of Tina Turner’s memorabilia. The Queen of Rock n’ Roll is honored during Tina Turner Heritage Days each September.
Members of the Memphis Equal Suffrage league met in the parlor of the historic Hotel Chisca on January 10, 1919 to discuss several issues to securing women the right to vote in the United States. The group voted to join with the Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association and drafted a telegram to be sent to political readers. The century-old building is being renovated to include a variety of boutique shops.
Murals for Women - Statewide
Celebrate women by mural hunting throughout Tennessee. "Walls for Women" was developed by DMA-events founders Kristin Luna and Scott van Velsor and focuses exclusively on capturing female creative energy as a celebration of Tennessee's Centennial of the 19th Amendment. Murals were created by notable talents Cymone Wilder, Sarah Painter, Kim Radford, Nicole Salgar, Jenny Ustick, Juuri and Tara Aversa in Nashville, Tullahoma, McMinnville, Maryville and Knoxville.