Photo: Toni Peake/Cox Media Group Washington News Bureau
Photo: Toni Peake/Cox Media Group Washington News Bureau

U.S. Capitol honors female political pioneers with new exhibit

House Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled the new exhibit, “The First Women in Congress,” last week.

“We owe so much to our pioneers," Ryan said. "It is a chance to remember public servants who made this institution and this country what it is today, for all of us, especially our daughters.”

Located on the House of Representatives side of the Capitol, the three-panel display shows women’s early contributions in politics.

Photo: Toni Peake/Cox Media Group Washington News Bureau

The first panel, "Jeannette Rankin, First Woman in Congress,” gives a deeper look into how Rankin’s efforts in the women’s suffrage movement made her a political fixture. 

Rankin was the first woman elected to the Congress.

Her well-known vote against World War I came with a lot of public criticism. 

Photo: Toni Peake/Cox Media Group Washington News Bureau

The second panel, “Early Women Representatives,” gives a look at how various women have paved the way for the country to stand as we know it.

It includes female political pioneers who fought Prohibition such as Florence Kahn of San Francisco and Mary Norton of New Jersey. 

Photo: Toni Peake/Cox Media Group Washington News Bureau

“Legislative Achievements of the Pioneers” makes up the third panel.

Edith Nourse Rodgers took over her husband’s seat in the House following his death.

She would go on to have a 35-year run after being re-elected 17 times.

After serving as a World War I nurse, Rodgers went on to become chairwoman of the House Veteran’s Committee where she sponsored the “Women Army Auxiliary Act.”

Mary Norton makes an appearance in this exhibit because back in 1938, she helped get the Fair Labor Standards Act through Congress.

It outlawed child labor and limited the work week to 40 hours.

Aileen Brew, of Lander, Wyo., who is visiting Washington with her two young daughters gave her take on the new exhibit.

“It gives you hope, but it brings you up short as well," Brew said. "In our state of Wyoming, we have actually lost women in our state Senate and House of Representatives…I think women have to continue to step forward and really push…We can’t forget where this all started with these early suffragettes.”

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