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$22,939 pledged of $95,000 goal
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By Alice Paul, Founder - NWP
$22,939 pledged of $95,000 goal
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About

The leadership of the National Woman's Party (NWP) and its historic home, The Sewall-Belmont House & Museum (SBHM), is faced with an unanticipated project, the discovery of mold in the Archive and Library ceiling registers.  The Archive & Library holds the most extensive collection of articles, periodicals and other artifacts from the Suffragists' 72 year campaign.  The Museum is open to the public, students, scholars and international guests.

First Feminist Library - SBHM
First Feminist Library - SBHM

The National Woman’s Party is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum is designated a National Historic landmark by the National Park Service.  Balancing the preservation of the collection with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior's Standards for historic properties is a complicated process. The home’s HVAC system is failing and the original 43 single pane double and triple hung windows lack necessary weather proofing by today’s standards. 

Why is the NWP relevant in the 21st Century?

“There is danger that because of a great victory, women will believe their whole struggle for independence ended. They have still far to go. It is for the Woman’s Party to decide whether there is any way in which it can serve in the struggle which lies ahead to remove the remaining forms of woman’s subordination” (Alice Paul, The Suffragist, 1921)

The NWP provides students and scholars with access to the Archive & Library and unique educational opportunities for the U.S. and International community to gain insight and perspective from the National Woman’s Party’s legacy.We are committed to supporting women by providing:

1.  Programs that empower women in all aspects of their life,

2.  provide resources for advancement and development,

3.  reflect on the Suffragists’ history to generate best practices for issues relevant to women today,

4.  provide networking opportunities with high-ranking senior women executives,

5.  support on-going scholarly research and partnerships with Universities, and

6.  access to women authors on a wide-range of topics.

An example, the NWP opened its Archive & Library to Hollywood as part of the research preparation for HBO's 2004 release of “Iron-Jawed Angels."  The docu-drama provided an updated look at the little known history of the National Woman’s Party and their remarkable story of courage and passion.Alice Paul (Hilary Swank) and her friend Lucy Burns (Frances O'Connor), put their lives on the line to fight for a woman’s right to vote.Swank and O'Connor head an outstanding female ensemble, with Julia Ormond, Molly Parker, Laura Fraser, Brooke Smith, Vera Farmiga, and cinematic legends Lois Smith, Margo Martindale, and Anjelica Huston as the steely older generation of suffragists.

Other events:

Book signing with Rachel Maddow
Book signing with Rachel Maddow
Know Your Value - Workshop
Know Your Value - Workshop

In June 2010, the SBHM was closed for an 11 month interior renovation and preservation of the Suffrage and Equal Rights collection.  When the museum reopened in April 2011, we faced a decrease in house tours, gift shop sales and facility rental revenues. This was primarily due to a combination of government sequestration, downturn in the financial markets and overall shrinking of government funding.

As a result, NWP leadership began exploratory discussions with the National Park Service to consider a public/private partnership between the two organizations. The NPS discussions have advanced and we have recently finalized the reconnaissance survey and feasibility study.  Unfortunately, the process that lies ahead can take another 3 – 5 years before a NWP/NPS partnership is fully funded. In the short-term (2015/2016) maintenance and repairs are depleting our yearly fundraising dollars and revenue reserves.

The NWP’s leadership has responded by making the tough decisions to reduce staff and trim other expenses in hopes of managing unexpected repairs associated with the 4,000 sq. ft. home and museum. Unfortunately these financial cutbacks over the last three years have resulted in the inability for the existing staff to properly and effectively monitor environmental conditions in the house, a crucial responsibility for proper stewardship of a historic collection.

The Architect of the Capitol’s (AOC) thermal solar images below reinforce the energy inefficiencies of the facilities doors and windows.  The red area on the spectrum represents the heat loss to the outside and the purple/pink depicts the cold air flowing into the home.

Front Main Entrance
Front Main Entrance
One of Four French Doors - Exterior Terrace
One of Four French Doors - Exterior Terrace

What is Suffrage?  In 2013 to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the NWP Suffrage march on Washington (March 3, 1913), HISTORY® produced a six minute video, narrated by award-winning actress, Allison Janney, which reenacts their 20th Century struggle to secure a woman’s right to vote.

Commemorative Jail Door Pen
Commemorative Jail Door Pen
Inprisoned Suffragist Occoquan Workhouse
Inprisoned Suffragist Occoquan Workhouse

Risks and challenges

The NWP was able to use 2014 revenue to pay for the environmental risk assessment and start the mold removal clean-up. We must focus our resources on the primary responsibility, the oversight of the collection - most importantly the environmental monitoring and specialized “housekeeping” that must be performed to maintain the collection. The purpose of this campaign is to raise the funds to pay for both the environmental, urgent remediation and the professional fees for a part-time preservationist for FY 2015 (October 1 – September 30). These services are crucial to preventing a recurrence of mold and preserving the historic unparalleled Suffrage and Equal Rights collection. The potential recurrence risk is further complicated due to the energy inefficiencies and the leadership’s inability to control interior temperatures as demonstrated in the AOC’s thermal solar photos. Those energy inefficiencies and structural repairs are part of the long-term (3 - 5 year) strategy and financial planning between the National Woman’s Party and the National Park Service (public/private partnership). For the NWP leadership our monthly reminder is the astronomical gas and electric bill!

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    A private tour of the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum for you and your friends (Ten guest max.)

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Funding period

- (47 days)