Changing the Face of Power: Women in the U.S. Senate Exhibit Opening

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Date: June 16, 2006
Contact: Anne Derousie, 315.568.2179

SENECA FALLS, NY - On July 1, 2006 from 1 – 3 p.m. an exhibit by acclaimed photojournalist Melina Mara, Changing the Face of Power: Women in the U.S. Senate, will open at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park Visitor Center at 136 Fall Street. A ribbon cutting, reception, and book-signing will launch this new exhibit that will be open to the public during regular Park hours through September 4, 2006.

The exhibit, which premiered at the Smithsonian Institution in 2003, features over 35 unique black and white photographs of the nation’s most powerful women and provides a rare insight into the changing nature of leadership in the United States. The Center for American History at the University of Texas serves as curator for the photo collection and in 2005, UT Press published the photos in a book by Mara which will be available at the free event cosponsored by the Friends of Women’s Rights National Historical Park.

In July 1848, an emboldened Elizabeth Cady Stanton called for women to have the right to vote at the nation’s first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, igniting a social revolution. This summer the birthplace of women’s rights in America is hosting an exhibit Stanton could have only imagined.

In 1978, 130 years after women first publicly called for the right to vote, a woman was elected to the U.S. Senate in her own right, being voted into office without having previously filled an unexpired Congressional term. In 1992, there were two women senators and by 2001, the number had grown to 13. Today, a record 14 women hold this prestigious office and are transforming this powerful branch of government. Mara said the abrupt increase in the number of women in Congress since the pivotal 1992 elections motivated her to document the dramatic change.

“My goal was to go beyond the fluff, beyond the spin and contrived photo opportunities, to document women doing the hard work of government,” said Mara. "Since mid-2000 I have been photographing, in essay form, the 14 women senators who are changing the face of the national political scene. Besides documenting their unique governing styles on Capitol Hill, I focus on several themes including the tools women politicians effectively use, the tightly knit bipartisan relationships they share; their isolation as a minority in the Senate; the loosening grip of the "old boys" network in the Senate, and their attempt to balance family with the high-paced world of national politics."

To complement Mara’s work, veteran White House journalist Helen Thomas conducted face-to-face audio interviews with 10 of the senators, which have been distilled into a 30 minute audio/video presentation. Melina Mara, currently covering national and international politics for the Washington Post, has worked at newspapers across the country. A former AP freelance photographer and graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, her photographs have appeared in numerous publications including The Washington Post Magazine, Newsweek, People and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls and Waterloo, NY preserves the sites associated with the early struggle for women’s rights in America. Come see this important exhibit that captures a defining moment in American history co-sponsored by the National Park Service, The University of Texas Center for American History, and Friends of Women’s Rights National Historical Park.

For additional information please contact the Park at 315-568-0024 or visit at

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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Seneca Falls, NY 13148


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