National Park Getaway: Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument

By Mike Litterst, Chief of Communications, Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument
Close up of stained glass window above doorway
Noon daylight streams through the stained glass fan window at Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument. A grant from the National Park Foundation provided for the restoration of the iconic stain glass window in the fall of 2016.

NPS/ Marcey Frutchey

Be inspired by the courage, sacrifices, and persistence of the women who fought for equality and the full rights of citizenship! Tucked away on Capitol Hill near the Supreme Court and United States Capitol, Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument tells the story of the fight for the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution that granted American women the right to vote, and the ongoing fight for equality. Named for suffragists Alva Belmont and Alice Paul, the site houses an unparalleled collection of women’s suffrage artifacts. Whether you take one of the guided tours or explore the house on your own, you will be immersed in history of the largest civil rights movement in America.

While the inside of the house is filled with exhibits and artifacts, the entry hall still looks much the same as it did when Alice Paul lived and worked in the house. The iconic, recently restored stained glass fan window lights up the space and illuminates the busts and portraits of the many heroes who fought for equality.

Women holding protest signs
The first group to ever picket the White House, suffragists often carried banners that spoke directly to President Wilson.

National Woman’s Party

Inspired by the British suffragettes, Alice Paul and her supporters reinvigorated the American suffrage movement and brought a new sense of urgency to the cause. In 1913, the day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, thousands of women marched down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House to “demand an amendment enfranchising the women” of the United States. Photographs, textiles, and artifacts from the parade reveal the courage of the marchers as the parade turned into a riot.

Flip through the “Deadly Political Index” and discover some of the strategies the members of the National Woman’s Party used to push for political change. Whether it was all-women automobile tours or being the first to picket the White House, the members of the National Woman’s Party constantly sought new ways to draw attention to their fight for voting rights. Artwork, photographs, banners, and cartoons display their determination and creativity. A skeleton key smuggled out of the district jail and a jail door–shaped pin testify to the courage of the women who sacrificed their freedom to win the vote.

Pin of jail door with lock
To honor their sacrifice, the National Woman’s Party awarded jail door shaped pins to the women who were arrested for the cause of women’s suffrage.

National Woman’s Party

Follow the twists and turns of the final push to make the Susan B. Anthony Amendment the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution. Hear how one vote made Tennessee the 36th and final state needed to ratify it in time for women to participate in the 1920 presidential election.

Discover how the National Woman's Party continued to push for equality in the United States and the world even after winning the vote. Following the introduction of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1923, the National Woman's Party worked for almost 50 years to have the amendment passed by Congress, only to have it fall three states short of ratification when the legislation expired in 1982. Explore the similarities between the anti-suffrage movement and the Stop ERA campaign that blocked its ratification before the 1982 deadline.

Throughout the year, Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument hosts a number of events including special programs for Women's History Month in March and Women's Equality Day in August. The Junior Suffragist program is available year round.

Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 9 am to 5 pm, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The site is accessible, easily reached from Capitol South or Union Station Metro stops, and charges no entrance fee.