The D.C. Workhouse opened in 1910 as an experiment to see if hard work in an open air environment would be an effective deterrent for short term prisoners. Then, in 1912, a Women's Workhouse was opened nearby. Sentences were short, usually for soliciting, prostitution, disorderly conduct and drunkenness. In 1917, women began demonstrating in front of the White House for the right to vote. They decided they would rather be imprisoned than be quiet. Some of those arrested were sentenced to the Women's Workhouse at Lorton. The protestors were held under deplorable conditions. As news of the sentences spread, sympathy for the suffragists was aroused. After they were released, a number of women toured the country to keep attention focused on the suffrage issue. Soon after, women gained the right to vote. The museum was created to preserve the history of the events that took place at the Complex from 1910 until the last prisoner left in 2001.