Seneca Falls, NY is the home of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. Since this month, March, is National Women’s History Month, and March 8th was International Women’s Day, it only seems fitting to do a post on Seneca Falls and the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. After all, I live only 45 minutes away.
The women most noted when the subject of women’s rights comes up are Susan B. Anthony , whose motto was, “Failure is not an option,” and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. But, they are not the only women who were fighting for women’s rights in the 19th century.
Amelia Bloomer, the woman who introduced Susan B. and Elizabeth Cady to each other, deserves mention when one has a discussion of women’s rights. Amelia is reponsible for more than the historical introduction of those two noted women. She is also responsible for helping to change the way women dressed, in the mid-19th century.
Before Amelia, women were forced to endure the most uncomfortable of conditions– in their everyday dress. They wore hoop-skirted dresses with hems that trailed along the floor. These dresses often weighed 40 lbs. and came with corsets designed to give every woman an hourglass figure. Determined females such as Anthony, Stanton, and Bloomer, once introduced to the more comfortable dress of ballooning trousers, with a short overskirt, adopted this ‘fad’ and never turned back.
In 1849, Bloomer advertised her pioneering spirit in print by starting a publication called The Lily, the first newspaper in the U.S. owned and operated by a woman. It advocated the message Stanton, Anthony and Bloomer wished to promote: women’s rights– the right to be educated, the right to own property, and of course, the right to vote, which was not granted until 1920.
One cannot discuss women’s rights without also mentioning Frederick Douglas, an early reformer, a staunch abolitionist and a friend of the women who so desperately sought equal rights in a country that professed to offer freedom to the masses. Rochester, NY, the home of the Susan B. Anthony house, has statues of both Frederick Douglas and Susan B. in a park located in the cultural district, where so much history took place. History that young people today know little or nothing about, it seems.
Young women today seem woefully unaware of the ridicule endured by these women, and men like Frederick Douglas, of the abuse heaped upon them, and the suffering–including imprisonment– for attempting to advance the lives of women and slaves. It’s now, during historical moments such as this month’s focus on women’s rights, when some newspapers and TV shows pay homage to these courageous women and men, that some of the truth gets told. To learn it all, or–as much as we have on record (who can truly believe ALL of the truth is available, that the meager writings and historical biographies can begin to cover the reality of life in a day when women were better ‘seen and not heard’ or when blacks were supposed to be free but were still just indentured servants?), one must visit the Seneca Falls Historical Museum.
To have the opportunity to relive history, to walk through the homes these women lived in, trying to imagine the struggles they endured, stopping to read about them in the historical writings and preservation of their homes, is truly a trip worth making. Why not plan it now? Why not help celebrate Women’s History Month…visit Seneca Falls, and be sure to bring your daughters and sons.Powered by Sidelines