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Paris Exposition of 1889 Commemorative Medal

Commemorative medal, 1889, Albert-Désiré Barre (French, 1818-1878), Bronze, Louis B. and Eleanor Deane Swan Audigier, 1934.1.708.

This commemorative medal was made by the famous French medalist Albert-Désiré Barre for the Centenary Universal Exhibition (Exposition Universelle) of 1889, held in Paris. The Exposition had more than 61,000 exhibitors and had more than 28 million visitors.

The back of the medal notes that the Exhibition was held on the hundredth anniversary of the 1789 French Revolution. The front of the medal features a woman wearing a ribbon inscribed, ‘Suffrage Universelle,’ representing universal voting rights for women. A special French and International Congress of the Rights of Women was held during the 1889 Paris exposition. However, only limited voting rights were gained by women in some Western European countries, Australian colonies, and western US states in the late 19th century. Most countries didn’t pass suffrage laws until the 20th century, and differing tactics were used at the state level in the US to limit nonwhite women’s and citizens’ right to vote.