Photograph: Lucy Branham with Banner

This photograph shows Lucy Branham with a banner protesting the treatment of suffrage leader Alice Paul.
In January 1917, discouraged by President Wilson’s continued opposition to the suffrage amendment, Alice Paul, the leader of the National Woman’s Party NWP) posted pickets at the White House gates—the first people to ever picket the White House. These "silent sentinels" stayed on duty in all weather and in the face of threats, taunts, and physical violence. Using their banners and their quiet courage they asked, "Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait for their Liberty?" and "Mr. President What Will you do for Woman Suffrage?" Hoping to provoke a response, the language on the banners became more inflammatory. They used the president’s own words against him and pointed out the hypocrisy of his leading the country into the First World War to defend freedom while denying it to the women of his own country. Crowds who believed the pickets’ activities were disloyal in a time of war attacked the suffragists and destroyed their banners. In July the police began arresting the pickets for "obstruction of traffic." When they refused to pay fines they were imprisoned. When they went on hunger strikes to demand the rights of political prisoners they were forcibly fed—a painful and invasive procedure. The pickets continued despite the risk. Paul had endured such treatment while she was in England. Although she knew what lay ahead and that she, as the organizer of the picketing, would receive a harsher sentence, she insisted on taking her place on the picket line. She was arrested in October. While in jail she was forcibly fed and threatened with commitment to an insane asylum. Reports of the long sentences, abuse, and the courage of the suffragists became public and all prisoners were released in November.
Lucy Branham, a leader of the National Woman’s Party, was arrested while picketing the White House in September 1917 and served two months in the Occoquan Workhouse and District of Columbia Jail.
Currently not on view
Object Name
associated institution
National Woman's Party
associated person
Paul, Alice
Branham, Lucy
Harris and Ewing
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
average spatial: 6 3/4 in x 5 in; 17.145 cm x 12.7 cm
place made
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
ID Number
catalog number
nonaccession number
Government, Politics, and Reform
Equal Rights Amendment
Voting Rights
Women's Suffrage
Woman Suffrage
See more items in
Political History: Political History, Women's History Collection
Woman Suffrage
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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