Exhibit highlights fight for gender equality in Illinois

The “ERA Yes! The Fight for Gender Equality in Illinois” exhibit at the Daley Library recalls a time before the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was ratified, showcasing women’s rights activists and their bumpy path to legal equality.

The Richard J. Daley Library Special Collections and University Archives on the third floor of the Daley Library is hosting the exhibit, which includes pictures, publications and artifacts centered on the fight for equal rights. The exhibit features the history of the women involved with the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, which officially was passed in Illinois in 2018.

“One of the legacies was that it got a lot of women involved in politics,” said David Greenstein, Special Collections and University Archives lecturer.

The various tactics of pro-ERA activists paint a picture of the journey that started in 1972, when the amendment was sent to Illinois.

One item featured in the display is Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s invitation for a letter-writing party at her house to write letters to public officials about ERA.

“The movement that was against the Equal Rights Movement was actually strongest here in Illinois,” Greenstein said.

Another part of the exhibit shows reasons why some were against the ERA, including flyers warning of women being drafted into service.

A reunion event in June brought together 70 activists who shared their experiences fighting for the passage of the ERA in Illinois. Many donated papers, which soon will be featured, along with oral histories.

The exhibit will be on display and open to the public through the end of the semester. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri.; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Wed., and 12:30-4:30 p.m. Sat.

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