National Woman’s Suffrage Congressional Union Flag

National Woman’s Suffrage Congressional Union Flag

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Description
This is the flag of the National Woman’s Suffrage Congressional Union.
In 1914 Alice Paul split from the more conservative National American Woman Suffrage Association, eventually founding the National Woman’s Party. It replaced British suffragettes’ green with yellow as the new American suffrage color.
Alice Paul and Lucy Burns felt that more should be being done to lobby Congress directly and that American suffragists could adapt the tactics of spectacle and political pressure employed by the British "suffragettes." Their new National Woman’s Party (NWP) used parades, petitions, protests, and eventually pickets in an ambitious campaign for a woman suffrage amendment.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
flag
associated institution
National Woman's Party
associated person
Paul, Alice
commemorated
National Woman's Suffrage Congressional Union
Physical Description
fabric (overall material)
metal (overall material)
purple (overall color)
white (overall color)
gold (overall color)
Measurements
average spatial: 13 in x 27 1/2 in; 33.02 cm x 69.85 cm
ID Number
1987.0165.124
catalog number
1987.0165.124
accession number
1987.0165
Credit Line
Gift of Alice Paul Centennial Foundation Inc
subject
Women's Suffrage
Equal Rights Amendment
Voting Rights
See more items in
Political and Military History: Political History, Women's History Collection
Government, Politics, and Reform
Woman Suffrage
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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Comments

The flag shown on your site (an original) has vertical stripes, while copies available commercially now have horizontal stripes of the same colors. Some commercial flags include two rows of small white stars. Do you know anything about these differences? Thanks for your website!
When the 19th amendment was being ratified, Alice Paul would sew a star for each state that voted to ratify on a large flag that she displayed from the National Woman’s Party building. 36 states were needed for ratification, so she sewed two rows of 18 stars, one in the gold color and one in the violet. Here’s a link to a photo of her sewing one of the stars: https://www.loc.gov/item/mnwp000263
Bernadette Cahill, author, “Alice Paul, the National Woman’s Party and The Vote”: my understanding of the colors’ meaning is through my knowledge of the Pankhursts’ WSPU, whose colors of green, white and violet signified Give Women the Vote. American Alice Paul worked with the WSPU, was imprisoned and force-fed in Britain - Tortured. Back in the US in 1913, working for the NAWSA, she wanted to use the WSPU colors, but the NAWSA said no to prevent identification with the WSPU tactics. So Paul changed the colors to gold, white and violet, whose initials indicate the same message as in the U.K. Paul did nothing by accident, so it seems to me that the proper word is “violet.” Great question.
Could someone tell me when this flag was first flown?
Hello! I wonder if you could provide additional information about the significance of the colors of the flag, including the choice of yellow/gold instead of green. Also, would suffragists of the early 20th century have said "purple" or "violet," or were the two interchangeable? Thank you!
I understand the colors were taken from the British suffrage colors. In England, the colors were purple (represented royalty), white (for purity and to stand out from the crowds) and green (for hope). Alice Paul took the colors to America, and switched the green out for gold. You can read a little bit more about on: https://www.nps.gov/articles/symbols-of-the-women-s-suffrage-movement.htm.

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