Suffragettes, subtext & social media

March is National Women’s History month in the United States. The National Women’s History Project pushed for the month-long commemoration first in 1987, and it has been approved every year since. The Library of Congress, the National Archives, Smithsonian Institution and more have collaborated on a commemorative website. It’s a great resource, with galleries of images, audio and video; articles and profiles about women breaking barriers; and lesson plans and resources for educators. If you get a chance, you should browse the site. Maybe I’m just a nerd, but I appreciate that there has been an effort to digitize these national records and put them online for all of us to access more easily.


Pennsylvania on the Picket Line. 1917. The White House is in the background. From Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

There are more than just “official” records out there, though. I’ve also noticed recently that the suffrage movements in both the United States (a large part of Women’s History month) and the United Kingdom are popular subjects of homemade YouTube videos. I thought I’d share some examples with you. I’ve always found it interesting to see how word choices and/or music choices combine with images to convey nuances of meaning and perhaps even add a deeper subtext to a work.

Here we have images from the suffrage movement in the U.K. set to the song “Sister Suffragette” from Mary Poppins:

And here we have images combined with text about specific women prominent in the United States’ movement, set to majestic instrumental music:

This next video is also about suffragettes in the U.S. But do these images of suffragettes combined with Lady Gaga’s song “Born This Way” perhaps address another, more current, movement as well? I don’t know for sure whether or not the creator of this video was attempting to make an additional political or social statement with their song choice. But it certainly seems possible.

As I mentioned, it can be quite interesting to think about how a certain song paired with certain images can create a hidden subtext. What do you think?

Suffragette Woodcut

Woman suffrage in Wyoming Territory. — Scene at the polls in Cheyenne /woodcut from a photo by Kirkland. Appeared in Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, Nov. 24, 1888, p. 229. Collection: Votes for Women: The Struggle for Women's Suffrage - Selected Images, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.


7 thoughts on “Suffragettes, subtext & social media

  1. thank you for posting this important message and powerful videos. i think the YouTube video entitled, “Women’s Suffrage” would be powerful even without the music, but the addition of it does add greater “gravitas” to an already sobering message. excellent work!

  2. Thanks for this blog! Great videos. My grandma Pat was born Nov ? 1920, the day of the elections. Her mother, my great grandmother Lillian, had been eagerly waiting for the elections so she could cast her vote, but alas, was unable to because she was in labor!

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