This was supposed to be the summer kids were going to learn about women’s suffrage. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper and Lucretia Mott had planned to tell their stories on the streets of Old City. The now-closed Kimmel Center had to delay its interactive art exhibit, “A Seat at the Table,” where visitors could experience women’s representation — or lack thereof — in places of power. At the Museum of the American Revolution, they were going to find out how New Jersey women snuck in their ballots two centuries early. (That exhibit is now scheduled to open Oct. 2.)

On Wednesday, the centennial of the certification of the 19th Amendment, there won’t be a bunch of sash-wearers making champagne toasts on Independence Mall. But there will be a virtual version. Also, with exhibits at the National Constitution Center, Brandywine Museum of Art, and the return of the Betsy Ross House, kids can still learn to love the sister suffragists who went before us. (There’s also non-voting-related weekend fun, too.)

Betsy Ross House

The Betsy Ross House has reopened, offering self-guided tours and a chance to speak with a masked Betsy Ross (pictured).
Photo courtesy of the Betsy Ross House/Historic Philadelphia Inc.
The Betsy Ross House has reopened, offering self-guided tours and a chance to speak with a masked Betsy Ross (pictured).

10-4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, $4-$5, timed tickets available, (ages 4 and up)

Old City’s cutest lil’ historic house reopened earlier this month. Betsy is back, and she is wearing a mask — stitched by her own hand, one can surmise. You’d think the wee dwelling of the supposed flag-maker wouldn’t be able to social distance visitors, but attendants are keeping a close watch on how many people are in or out. (If you know Ross, she’s not letting any fools crowd her workshop.) Although audio tours are temporarily halted, Once Upon a Nation storytellers are on hand and onstage outside to point out some of the less obvious attributes of the Arch Street address, like the cats in the fountain.

National Constitution Center’s Kids Town Hall: Meet the Suffragists

Noon Wednesday, free, registration required, (ages 5 and up)

Dora Kelly (Mrs. Laurence) Lewis (1862-1928) returns after five days in prison for protesting for women's suffrage in Washington, DC in August 1918. Lewis, a member of a prominent Philadelphia family and descendant of founders of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, was jailed four times for her activism for women's suffrage. While in jail, she went on hunger strikes. Here, she stands between Clara Louise Rowe (left) and Abby Scott Baker (right, in wagon). She will be depicted in the National Constitution Center's virtual Kids Town Hall: Meet the Suffragists on Wednesday, August 26 at noon.
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
Dora Kelly (Mrs. Laurence) Lewis (1862-1928) returns after five days in prison for protesting for women's suffrage in Washington, DC in August 1918. Lewis, a member of a prominent Philadelphia family and descendant of founders of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, was jailed four times for her activism for women's suffrage. While in jail, she went on hunger strikes. Here, she stands between Clara Louise Rowe (left) and Abby Scott Baker (right, in wagon). She will be depicted in the National Constitution Center's virtual Kids Town Hall: Meet the Suffragists on Wednesday, August 26 at noon.

When children learn about things women weren’t allowed to do 100 years ago — wear pants, eat out alone, drive — the thing that should hit them hardest was that women weren’t allowed to vote. Vote! On Wednesday, Women’s Equality Day, the National Constitution Center opens the new exhibit “The 19th Amendment: How Women Won the Vote.” Part of the opening includes a free, interactive Zoom featuring actors playing VIP voting activists Lucretia Mott, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and Dora Lewis — Philadelphians all. Meanwhile, the exhibit and museum remain free, Wednesdays through Saturdays, through Sept. 5.

Toast to Tenacity

Noon–1:30 p.m., Wednesday, free, live-streamed online, (ages 8 and up)

In 1915, Pennsylvania suffragette Katherine Wentworth Ruschenberger commissioned a two-ton bronze bell that would, like the Liberty Bell, travel the U.S. as a symbol of freedom. Engraved with the words, Establish Justice, the Justice Bell promoted voting rights for women from rural Pennsylvania to rallies and parades in Chicago, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, where, in 1920, upon the ratification of the 19th Amendment, its clapper was unchained to ring in Independence Square. This archival photo depicts the Bell, which will ring once again on Wednesday, August 26 as part of the virtual Toast to Tenacity.
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
In 1915, Pennsylvania suffragette Katherine Wentworth Ruschenberger commissioned a two-ton bronze bell that would, like the Liberty Bell, travel the U.S. as a symbol of freedom. Engraved with the words, Establish Justice, the Justice Bell promoted voting rights for women from rural Pennsylvania to rallies and parades in Chicago, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, where, in 1920, upon the ratification of the 19th Amendment, its clapper was unchained to ring in Independence Square. This archival photo depicts the Bell, which will ring once again on Wednesday, August 26 as part of the virtual Toast to Tenacity.

A livestream is replacing what should have been the biggest Women’s Equality Day celebration of all, a thousands-strong event in front of Independence Hall. Oh well, the kids will probably get a bigger kick out of Women 100′s virtual version, which features ringing the Justice Bell (a younger, uncracked doppelgänger of the Liberty Bell), performances, and speeches by quotable notables, and, just cause we’re in Philly and we can, the Philadelphia Eagles, whom one would like to imagine would have been champions of women’s suffrage, had they been around back then.

Votes for Women: A Visual History

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Monday, $6-$18 (free under age 5), timed tickets required, (age 8 and up)

Part of the exhibit "Votes for Women: A Visual History" at the Brandywine River Museum of Art are the purple, white, and gold marching capes worn more than 100 years ago by members of the still-existent National Women's Party.
Photo courtesy of the Brandywine River Museum of Art
Part of the exhibit "Votes for Women: A Visual History" at the Brandywine River Museum of Art are the purple, white, and gold marching capes worn more than 100 years ago by members of the still-existent National Women's Party.

Among the purple capes, political cartoons, bright posters, and black-and-white photos at the Brandywine River Museum of Art exhibition is an eye-catching mural of suffragists of color largely left out of the 1920 celebration. Original portraits of Ida B. Wells and Sojourner Truth are displayed alongside the faces and stories of fascinating contemporaries (and future social studies report subjects) Mabel Ping Hua Lee, Jovita Idár, Sofia de Veyra, Ethel Cuff Black (who happened to be an early sorority sister of Kamala Harris at Howard), and more unsung heroines. Sibling exhibit “Witness to History: Selma Photography of Stephen Somerstein” recalls Civil Rights protests 40 years later. In the gift shop: flash cards and a 100-piece Votes for Women puzzle.

Storytime and River Walk

10:30 a.m.–noon, 12:30–2 p.m. Saturday, registration required, (ages 4–9)

Let's Go Outdoors hosts two free story times and river walks on Saturday, August 29, at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., starting at Lloyd Hall.
Photo courtesy of Let's Go Outdoors
Let's Go Outdoors hosts two free story times and river walks on Saturday, August 29, at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., starting at Lloyd Hall.

David Krisch of Let’s Go Outdoors leads the last 30-minute walking tours along the Schuylkill, starting at Lloyd Hall, pointing out the Waterworks Boardwalk Trail, Fairmount Dam, and the gazebo near the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and doing COVID-friendly activities along the way. After that, he reads a story about water.