Exhibit honoring North Alabama women opens in Lawrence County this week

A traveling exhibit provided by the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area will accompany local efforts to honor notable women from North Alabama in celebration of the Women's Suffrage centennial this year. The temporary exhibit opened at Oakville Indian Mounds Education Center on Tuesday. 

A temporary exhibit, featuring local women from North Alabama and Lawrence County in honor of the centennial anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the United States, opened at the Oakville Indian Mounds Education Center this week. 

The Oakville center partnered with the Lawrence County Archives to bring the display, “Women of the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area,” provided by MSNHA to Lawrence County residents for the summer. The two partners also sought out local contributors to honor trailblazing women of the Lawrence County community. 

The exhibit, which will remain on display at the Oakville center through August, opened to the public on Tuesday and includes panels from MSNHA as well as exhibit contributions from Pond Spring, the Lawrence County Archives, local churches and county residents, according to Oakville’s Cultural Resource Specialist Anna Mullican.

Mullican said another major contributor, The Moulton Advertiser’s Loretta Gillespie, provided much of the background and historical information for several of the women featured in the temporary museum. 

Visitors to the temporary museum will find a wealth of knowledge on prominent women from Lawrence County’s history, including one exhibit honoring Lawrence County’s Mary Lee Wasson Cagle. Cagle was born in 1864 near Moulton and was known for her work in co-founding the Church of the Nazarene. She is one of the last known women in the country to be accused and tried for being a “scold,” Mullican said. 

Other locally contributed exhibits which celebrate Lawrence County’s women of the past as well as its future honor Lawrence County’s Elayne Beauchamp Jackson, Linda Peebles, Angela Terry and Alice Evans, among many others. 

In addition to Lawrence County contributed pop-up panels and displays, MSNHA panels also feature notable women from North Alabama, including Helen Keller and Ruth Clement Bond of Colbert County, Bettye Ruth Ligon, Anne Royall and Annie Wheeler of Lawrence County, and Athelyne Banks, Patti Cashin, Ellen “Ella” Hildreth and Mildred Nungester Wolfe of Morgan County. 

For the MSNHA exhibit, University of North Alabama graduates Julia McGee and Lacie Rowe worked with UNA Public History student Josh Grigsby and MSHNA Exhibit Director Carolyn Crawford to research and gather images for the project.

McGee, who graduated from UNA in December of 2019 with an MA in Public History, also developed a companion educator packet for teachers, which can be accessed online at msnha.una.edu/resources/.

 The packet includes biographies of notable MSNHA women, classroom activities, and sources for more research, Mullican added. 

 Although hosts were unable to host a kick-off event for the exhibit on Tuesday, Mullican said visitors are welcome to check out the exhibit while it remains on display this month. 

The Oakville Indian Mounds Education Center, located at 1219 County Road 187 in Danville, is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 256-905-2499. 

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