Mighty Mountain Women


On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This August will mark the 100th anniversary of that event. To celebrate the milestone, Mountain Gateway Museum & Heritage Center will open a new, in-house exhibit titled Mighty Mountain Women on Tuesday, March 17. Part of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ She Changed the World initiative in 2020, the exhibit will run through December at the museum.

Mighty Mountain Women shines a spotlight on both well-known and lesser- known women in western North Carolina’s mountains from the 18th through the mid-20th centuries whose lives and actions have helped make history. In this exhibit, you’ll learn about:

  • Gertrude Dills McKee of Jackson County who became the first woman elected to serve in the North Carolina senate.
  • Beulah Henry, nicknamed “Lady Edison,” who created 110 inventions during her lifetime.
  • Jackie “Moms” Mabley, a pioneering comedian who used her platform to advocate for Civil Rights
  • Frances Louisa Goodrich, who helped save the traditional Appalachian crafts in the mountain region and aided in the establishment of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.


Image of Frances Goodrich from Hunter Library at Western Carolina University.


We hope you can join us in celebrating women from Western North Carolina!