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A Stage for Women’s Suffrage

At a time when women were denied political, professional, and educational rights, Carnegie Hall served as a space where women could come to experience collective empowerment. At the turn of the 20th century, women began to gather together and advocate for equal voting rights. As women filled Carnegie Hall for a variety of events to garner support and band together to demand suffrage, they exhibited their ability to rally in support of a common cause: improving and advocating for their own lives.

“It is built to stand for ages, and during these ages it is probable that this hall will intertwine itself with the history of our country. All good causes may find here a platform.” —Andrew Carnegie

For more than 125 years, Carnegie Hall’s history has been intertwined with the history of our country. From its very beginnings, Andrew Carnegie intended for the hall to be a “people’s house,” where music could be presented alongside lectures, rallies, and organizational meetings. These non-musical events have given voice to the issues of our time, providing a space for civic discussion, learning, and collective support. By the time Carnegie Hall opened in 1891, women’s suffrage had established itself as a major movement within the broader fight for women’s rights in the United States. For more than 40 years, the women’s suffrage movement worked towards achieving the legal right for women to vote before it was passed in 1920 as part of the 19th Amendment.

Between 1908 and 1919, Carnegie Hall hosted more than two dozen events solely devoted to the topic of women’s suffrage, ranging from mass meetings and conventions to lectures and rallies. At each event, women turned out in droves. From doctors to lawyers, social workers to musicians, New York City women proved their determination to work together to improve their own lives.