Dolph Briscoe Center to open new exhibition on women’s activism in late February

Nataleah Small

A century after the 19th Amendment passed in the United States, an exhibition on women’s activism will be on display at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. 

The exhibition “‘On with the Fight!’ Women’s Activism in the Briscoe Center’s Collections” will include materials on women’s suffrage, organization and labor activism, representation and media outreach, said Sarah Sonner, associate director for curation at the Briscoe Center. The exhibition will be on display starting Feb. 27 until the end of July.

“We want to show people what we have on these topics in American history and encourage them to delve further in the archives,” Sonner said. 

The exhibition is the result of collaboration between the UT Department of History and Briscoe Center collection archivists and staff members, Sonner said. 

Sonner said visitors will be able to view documents, photographs and objects, such as an Equal Rights Amendment button and a summer uniform for a woman who served in the military.

Hal Richardson, a social science and humanities research associate at the Briscoe Center, said he helped pull photographs from the Center’s media repository and scanned what was needed for the exhibition. 

Richardson said it was fascinating to handle photographs and documents with historical significance. 

“It’s always exciting providing (materials), but I never really know what to expect until I actually see the exhibit,” Richardson said. “It’s always a fun surprise for me.”

A section on women in politics draws legislative material like the Ann Richards Papers, Sonner said. Richards was the second female governor of Texas, and her papers include campaign records, legislative files and gubernatorial appointments, according to the Center’s website. 

“We do hope that people will discover more, and there’s so many things that we were excited to find and show,” Sonner said. 

Although the Briscoe Center is not a lending institution, Sonner said most of the displayed materials will be available for reference in the Center’s reading room once the exhibition closes. 

Jill Morena, art registrar at the Briscoe Center, said she hopes visitors will leave the exhibition feeling encouraged and inspired. Morena said the exhibition will demonstrate that there is not always a straight path to social change. 

“It will be interesting, especially for younger people, to see that these are fights that have been going on for a long time,” Morena said. 


Visitors will be able to see how the feminist movement has grown and become more inclusive over time, Morena said. By looking at documents from the 20th century, she said visitors can see how the people included and excluded from these movements has changed. 

“What we’ve shown here scratches the surface of what’s here in the archives,” Morena said. “If students want to learn more, they can certainly do that by just delving deeper into some of those collections.” 

Advertising senior Cailyn Wesstrom said it is incredible that the Briscoe Center is hosting an exhibition like this, especially since 2020 marks the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment. 

“I know a lot of people put serious effort into creating the exhibits,” Wesstrom said.