There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them,” announces a blinking cartoon version of Ida B. Wells crowned with flashing stars. For the next two weeks, Wells, Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin and Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, among others, can help you celebrate women’s suffrage, with the help of the Library of Congress. Aug. 26 marks the 100th anniversary of the day the 19th Amendment, which made it unlawful to deny Americans the right to vote on the basis of sex, went into effect. To honor the milestone, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and the National Archives launched a series of 19 posts on their social media platforms starting on Aug. 3, each dedicated to telling the story—in screenshot-worthy Instagram form—of an influential fighter for women’s suffrage. Some are associated with the original right-to-vote movement, while others, like Fannie Lou Hamer, worked to ensure free and unrestricted access to the polls by fighting against racist Jim Crow laws that stopped Black voters from exercising the franchise. The lessons of Hamer and the other 18 suffragists featured in the series are especially poignant at this particular moment, when the threat of voter suppression looms on a massive scale as millions of Americans gear up to vote by mail this fall in a system unequipped (or unwilling) to handle the new format. The posts are available on Instagram and Twitter or at blogs.loc.gov. Free. —Ellie Zimmerman
All Together for the Camera: A History of the Supreme Court’s Group Photograph
A group portrait of the nine Supreme Court justices pops up every time a big court decision merits news coverage; it’s become so familiar that it rarely triggers much thought. But there’s a history—and it’s a long one, stretching back almost to the Civil War, when the justices first gathered to take their picture at the studio of the famed photographer Alexander Gardner. Franz Jantzen, the court’s collections manager for graphic arts and the court photographer from 1992 to 2000, studied the history of the court’s group photograph for five years before assembling the exhibit All Together for the Camera: A History of the Supreme Court’s Group Photograph. He found that the portraits were taken somewhat haphazardly during the rest of the 19th century, but the tradition became permanent in 1911, and since 1941, when the location was fixed at the Supreme Court building, the format has been rock-solid. The justices always sit by seniority, with the chief justice in the middle of the front row, the backdrop is now always a simple velvet curtain, and since 1965, the image has always been in color. Usually serious in their poses, the justices do occasionally show a bit of verve, such as three offering smiles in the most recent official group photograph. In a nod to changing technology, this latest image represented the first all-digital sitting at which no film was exposed. All Together for the Camera doesn’t include every portrait, but it features 33 images, both the official ones and a few others, such as images of the press getting their chance to photograph and nine members of the building support staff sitting in the justices’ seats as the room was being prepared. The exhibition is available at supremecourt.gov. Free. —Louis Jacobson