Izetta Jewel’s the most famous woman you’ve never heard of. She was an actress, activist, and suffragist; founded a political party and had dinner with Mussolini. And she lived to 95, splitting her time between Schenectady, where she lived for a decade; and Washington, D.C., where she hosted congressmen and senators for breakfast every Sunday at her home.
Co-curators Ann Rockwood and Joe Piazzo of Schenectady’s Museum of Innovation and Science have put together a fascinating exhibit on Jewel’s life, which runs through November.
The exhibit itself is designed to resemble an old-fashioned scrapbook, using clippings and other artifacts sourced from Jewel’s family and Radcliffe College, the owners of Jewel’s collection.
The exhibit is split up into “pages” that cover different parts of Jewel’s life. For example, one covers her acting career (The Queen’s Messenger, Vicki); while another focuses in on her women’s rights work (she co-founded the National Women’s Party and fought hard for suffrage). Other pages cover her political career (she was the first woman nominated as a candidate for president at the 1920 Democratic Convention); broadcasting (she performed in the first radio/TV drama on WGY; and of course, her time in Schenectady, where she served as Commissioner of Public Welfare during the Great Depression.
At the exhibit’s opening on Nov. 6, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy issued a proclamation on the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote in New York State, naming Nov. 24 “Izetta Jewel Day.”
The Museum of Innovation and Science is located at 15 Nott Terrace Heights in Schenectady, N.Y. For more information on the exhibit, call (518) 382-7890 or visit the museum’s website.