Photograph courtesy of 2017 WOMAN'S MARCH WIKIPEDIA

A recent exhibit on women’s suffrage posted at the National Archives has been found to include an altered photo from the 2017 women’s march. First noted by reporters at the Washington Post, the photo in question has been digitally altered to remove phrases such as “God Hates Trump” and terms related to female anatomy, such as “p***y,” from protest signs.

Upon the discovery of this change, multiple activist organizations criticized the agency’s censorship. Among these voices was Women’s March board member Rinku Sen, who called the change a “symbol of the degradation of democracy.” Other critical voices included the American Civil Liberties Union, who stated that the archives were designed to protect and preserve history rather than “alter it to serve the president’s ego.”

At first the agency responded to these criticisms by explaining the reasoning behind the censorship. Spokesperson Miriam Kleinman released a statement claiming that the removal of President Trump’s name was to avoid the “current political controversy,” as the archives were created to act as nonpartisan record keepers. Kleinman also stated that the choice to remove the anatomically-related terms was a fear that they were inappropriate for children. The agency further explained that alterations to photos were only made if they were displayed for “graphic design components.”

As of now, the agency has reversed this statement and claimed that the photo will be changed to the unedited version. This statement also promised that a “thorough review” of “exhibit policies and procedure” would be launched to ensure that an incident like this would not occur in the future. This response has received mixed reactions from critics. While some activists are happy with the change, others are calling for answers. Among these critics is the ACLU’s Deputy Legal Director Louise Melling, who called on the agency to explain why it took “the Orwellian step” of “erasing women’s bodies” from the historical narrative. Melling also called on the Agency to reveal who ordered these changes be made.