A Family Affair: The Hall-Harte Archive of Suffragist Photographs

Swann is delighted to be offering an archive of rare and important photographs documenting “The Liberty Bell Tour, Votes for Women,” organized by Louise Hall and her life-partner Ethel Harte (daughter of Bret Harte, the poet and novelist). It is a featured item in our December 11 auction of Vernacular Imagery & Photobooks.

The 5000-mile tour that crisscrossed Pennsylvania was underwritten by Katharine Wentworth Ruschenberger, a Main Line Philadelphian and staunch feminist.

The derision of women’s rights in the popular press meant that the organizers were smart to hire Hall’s brother Olliean engineer, graduate of MIT and avid photographer —to document the rallies. Ollie’s pictures capture the dynamic spirit of these amazing women in addition to curious onlookers, children waving flags and local luminaries in small towns throughout Pennsylvania.

Hall (with and without a replica of the Liberty Bell), Harte and Ruschenberger are shown speaking to scores of interested listeners. In addition to photographs of the tour, there are snapshots of Hall and Harte, letters, postcards and related ephemeral material.

Five years after the Liberty Tour, in September 1920, the passage of the 19th Amendment ensured voting rights for women across the United States.