Equality Under the Law: History of the Equal Rights Amendment

Submitted by cleveland on Fri, 01/13/2017

An exhibit on the history of the Equal Rights Amendment will be on display at the Russell Special Collections Libraries Jan. 19-May 12. 

The exhibit documents the rights of women under the law from the 17th century to present with a focus on the state of Georgia. Highlights include original suffrage pennants and letters from Susan B. Anthony; the origins of the National Women's Party; ephemera from the ERA campaign at the local, state, and national level; and materials from the anti-ERA movement and Phyllis Schlafly.

On Aug.18, 1920, the women’s movement achieved a great victory with the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. This fight for American women’s suffrage began 70 years earlier at the convention at Seneca Falls in 1848. As the women’s movement progressed, three goals emerged: women need access to education and other public institutions; women want the freedom to choose and advance in their vocations; and equality before the law which included the right to vote. The third goal for suffrage became the primary objective of the first-wave of the women’s movement. After the achievement of women’s suffrage, Alice Paul and the members of the National Woman’s Party embarked on a new campaign for the women’s movement. On the 75th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, Alice Paul introduced the Equal Rights Amendment, which simply stated, “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction."

For the next 60 years, various women’s organizations would fight for women’s complete equality before the law.

Support for the first wave of the women’s movement declined after women achieved the right to vote in 1920. Many women’s organizations went on to campaign for other causes, but these groups did not have one unified cause like suffrage. Momentum for the women’s movement continued to decline. The Great Depression and back-to-back world wars distracted women from feminist causes. However, the social and political changes of the 1960s jump-started the second wave of the women’s movement. Inspired by the Civil Rights movement, women began to question their economic and legal status. Instead of one single goal, the women’s movement focused on various aspects that affected women’s lives such as educational opportunities, gender pay gap, workplace discrimination, women’s health, and many other social issues.

This is an annual exhibit on women's history with materials drawn from the Lucy Hargrett Draper Center and Archives for the Study of the Rights of Women in History and Law, circa 1550-2050.

 

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.