I can’t get enough of Wendy Davis – her no-bullshit attitude, unwavering resolve, colossal intellect, passion, and warmth, not to mention her seriously KILLER sneakers – but she also makes me crave more stories about the original badass women in politics, AKA the suffragettes.
Thankfully, this hankering is right on time, because a safe belonging to members of the Suffrage Movement was cracked open Wednesday in New York City.
The safe has sat patiently for years, unopened and mysterious, with the inscribing “Woman Suffrage Party” on its front. On the 125th anniversary of the inception of the National Council of Women, which was started by Susan B. Anthony and her peers, it was finally opened.
It remained locked for many years because the NCW didn’t have enough money to continue its advocacy efforts and pay a professional safe cracker, but when the University of Rochester offered to pitch in, it was clear the time had come.
So, what’s in the box?
"Will we find the names of 'closet feminists'—secret high-level supporters who felt they could not back the radical group publicly?" asked Catherine Cerulli, who is the director of the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women's Leadership at the University of Rochester.
Maybe plans or photographs? A step-by-step manual on how to dismantle the patriarchy? Perhaps instructions to a secret island that we feminists can all escape to?
Elaad Isreali, safe cracker extraordinaire, told members of the Council – including president Mary Singletary – to try not to get their hopes up because mostly safes don’t contain much, just “rubber bands, paper clips, [and] pens,” – although I wouldn’t mind using a pen that Susan B. Anthony had written The Revolution with!
The treasures inside were miscellaneous, almost random at times, and yet, definitely do not disappoint:
- A change purse filled with coins from different countries – traveling and gettin’ money; the suffragettes were clearly hardcore
- A Smithsonian replica of the gavel used by Anthony
- An envelope with a 1999 stamp that revealed the safe had been opened within the past 14 years – wait, by who?! Excuse me? This sounds like the start of a historical fiction novel!
- Medals, a broach, a corporate seal, old tax documents, papers of incorporation
- Gorgeous replicas of wall murals depicting women, commissioned by the infamous Chicago World’s Fair in 1933
And finally, they found a candy box filled with more keys, one clearly leading to a storage room in the basement. So there could still be more gems hidden by the suffragettes, just waiting to be discovered (and I’m not ruling out feminist Narnia!)
What do you hope they find in storage? Let us know in the comments!
Photos via NPR, CSMonitor, accountableinaction, labour-rose, Gothamist.