What Was in the Mysterious Woman Suffrage Party Safe Box?

For as long as anyone can remember, the safe box - marked simply “Woman Suffrage Party” has sat in the council’s New York City office

The safe box, upon its unlocking. Photo: University of Rochester

An enigmatic safe box that has been locked up for an unknown period of time was opened today, to mark the 125th anniversary of the National Council of Women of the United States, the oldest nonsectarian women’s organization in the U.S. For as long as anyone can remember, the safe box—marked simply “Woman Suffrage Party”—has sat in the council’s New York City office, provoking speculation about its contents. Some thought the box may date back as far as the late 19th century.

According to the University of Rochester, some wondered whether the box would contain the names of closeted early feminists; others speculated that it may contain organizational strategies for achieving women’s rights. The Democrat and Chronicle wondered if it might contain decades-old love letters, or even a first draft of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

The contents, revealed on Tuesday, were a bit anticlimactic, but nevertheless intriguing:

  • A silver broach from a well-known New York City jewelry store
  • Two silver hearts
  • A Smithsonian replica of Susan B. Anthony’s gavel
  • Paperwork from the 1930s, ’40s and ’60s
  • Small murals from the 1933 world fair
  • Currency from Mexico and France
  • An assortment of keys that appear to be for storage, with labels such as “Locker 19″

Unfortunately, the box also contained an envelope with a postmark from 1999, and a credit card that expired in 2002, so it wasn’t quite the time capsule many were hoping for. But a spark of mystery remains: who knows what’s in that intriguing “Locker 19″?

More from Smithsonian.com:

Celebrating 90 Years Since Women Won the Right to Vote
New York’s Crucial Role in the Women’s Rights Movement 

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