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Plenty of opportunities to celebrate Women’s History Month in Laurel

Rachel McCullough, founder of the Traveling Women's History Museum, is the featured speaker this month for the Laurel Museum Speaker series.
Rachel McCullough, founder of the Traveling Women's History Museum, is the featured speaker this month for the Laurel Museum Speaker series.(Courtsey photo / HANDOUT)

The month of March has been recognized as Women’s History Month since 1987. The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. In recognition of both of these milestones, the Laurel Historical Society, Montpelier Mansion and Montpelier Arts Center are hosting various events to honor women.

Both the Historical Society and the Montpelier Mansion are featuring a pop-up exhibit created by the National Archives. Titled “Rightfully Hers,” the pop-up display features information about the 19th amendment, its history and what it accomplished through photos and text.

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“They used to have traveling exhibits that were larger and required more space,” said Ann Bennett, executive director of the Laurel Historical Society and Museum. “These are two cardboard boxes that stack on top of each other. They are packed with so much information.”

The ‘Rightfully Hers’ exhibit coincided with Montpelier’s exhibit on Black History, which also had a section on voting. The staff decided to mingle the pop-up exhibit with their exhibit by taking it apart and mounting it, according to Edna Graham, assistant museum educator.

“We made it flow with the others," Graham said. "There are a lot of highlights on the boards. It is a nice overview.”

Montpelier Mansion’s exhibit also includes a timeline showcasing when each state ratified the 19th amendment. Mississippi was the last state to ratify the amendment, belatedly in March 1984, after rejecting it March of 1920.

“The 1920s were not so long ago,” Graham said.

The museum and the mansion will display the “Rightfully Hers” exhibit through August.

Traveling Women’s History Museum

As part of its monthly speaker series, the Historical Society is hosting the Traveling Women’s History Museum on Thursday, which was created by Rachel McCullough in 2016 for her Gold Award, the highest recognition for a Girl Scout.

McCullough, 19, of Pennsylvania, has always been interested in history and continues to do research on women and their accomplishments to add to her museum. The exhibit she is bringing to Laurel will be a new one she is creating to focus on the women’s suffrage movement.

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“I stress a lot that you can’t forget the women who came before,” McCullough said. “Who were they and why did they march? Why was it so important to them? Why were there women who opposed it?”

McCullough and her team of volunteers do extensive research to present accurate information.

“When I put a presentation together, I run it by two or three different female historians,” McCullough said. “I want to make sure our facts are backed up.”

Items from her collection, as well as from the Historical Society, will be on display during her presentation.

“I want my audience to understand who these women were,” McCullough said. “I ask younger kids questions about what they know. I let them get close-up and personal with it.”

While she has traveled throughout the state of Pennsylvania with her museum, this will be the first time she sets up an exhibit outside of Pennsylvania.

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“I feel really honored they picked me to come,” McCullough said.

“It is really unique,” Bennett said, of the traveling museum. “We’re very excited.”

The Laurel Museum Speaker Series presents the Traveling Women’s History Museum by Rachel McCullough at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 12, at the Laurel Pool Room, 9th and Main streets. Free. For information, call 301-725-7975.

‘To Collect and Preserve’ seminar

Montpelier Mansion is hosting a mini-seminar, “To Collect and Preserve,” on Saturday, March 14. Three speakers will talk about the women’s suffrage movement: Corinne Porter, from the National Archives; Kenneth Florey, a professor and private collector; and Joseph Sherren, Montpelier’s collections manager.

“It will be a deep dive into history with specific details on the movement,” Sherren said. “We’re hoping to attract those familiar with the topic and interested to learn more.”

Florey’s private collection of suffrage items is “a rare opportunity to see a personal collection.”

“As a professor of history, you’ll see and hear specific stories and hear about his research and collection,” Sherren said.

Sherren will talk about the art of preserving such relics as buttons, sashes and ribbons. Records, sheets of music and newspapers clippings, too, will be discussed.

The event will feature a luncheon and time to explore the mansion, too.

“To Collect and Preserve” will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 14, at Montpelier Historic Mansion, 9650 Muirkirk Road. Admission is $25. For information, call 301-377-7817.

Women in Jazz panel

For the fourth year in a row, Jazz Beyond Borders, an agency based in Davidsonville, will host “The Journey of a Lifetime,” a Women in Jazz panel discussion, at Montpelier Arts Center on March 22 in celebration of Women’s History Month.

Three female jazz artists — pianist Jenny Wilson, bebop jazz vocalist Audrey Shakir and violinist Maureen Choi — will share stories about their beginnings with music from a young age to present day.

“We have had different topics and themes,” said Paula Anne Delve Phillips, coordinator of the event and creator of Jazz Beyond Borders. “This year, I wanted it more about the lives of women. All three women on the panel are very, very different. How did they overcome their challenges? How did they learn? Where did they study? It was different for all three of them.”

The panel has been very popular at Montpelier, attracting not just jazz enthusiasts, but young musicians interested in learning about the business.

“I was amazed at how many people came,” Phillips said, of the first panel. “It is a little different than a performance. People ask questions. You hear how someone’s career develops and you realize that it could be you.”

Jazz Beyond Borders will also present two concerts at Montpelier Arts Center in celebration of Women’s History Month.

Jamie Baum, a composer and bandleader, will perform a concert Friday, March 13. On Sunday, March 15, the Maureen Choi Quartet will perform.

“The Journey of a Lifetime,” a Women in Jazz panel discussion, will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 22, at Montpelier Arts Center, 9652 Muirkirk Road. The event is free. For information, call 301-377-7800.

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