New Yorkers have long led the struggle for women's rights. Seneca Falls is considered the birthplace of women's rights, and some of the movement's greatest leaders - both early and modern -- did their trailblazing work here in the Empire State. While it took 72 years from the moment that the Women's Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls to the day in 1920 when women gained the right to vote by the Nineteenth Amendment - appropriately known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment -- the original suffrage leaders have not been forgotten.
Their legacy has lived on through other great women, whose history has been captured in New York historical sites, from the National Women's Hall of Fame, to the home of this pioneering 19th century photographer Alice Austin, to first chapter of the American Red Cross founded by Clara Barton, to the Eleanor Roosevelt's Val-Kill , the only National Historic Site dedicated to a first lady.
Below are ideas to help you get started on your Civil Rights Path Through History!
- The Alice Austin House in Staten Island, located at the entrance to New York Harbor, explores the life of this pioneering 19th century photographer who was one of the first women to shoot documentary-style photographs. Visitors can tour her 1690 home and view works by Austen and other artists.
- Just down the road from Franklin D. Roosevelt's National Historic Site and Presidential Library and Museum, the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park - the only such site dedicated to a first lady - features a one-hour guided tour of her modest Val-Kill home and a 16-minute film exploring the history of this "First Lady of the World" who championed women's rights, civil rights, workers rights and universal human rights.
- Visitors can draw their own inspiration while exploring Steepletop in Austerlitz, the Victorian home and well-tended gardens where Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay lived. Her home and grounds includes a "poetry trail" and often features poetry readings and other events.
- In 1774, Mother Ann Lee led a small group of followers from England to New York to form America's first Shaker settlement. At a time when few women served as preachers and fewer still led religious groups, Ann Lee did both, illustrative of the Shaker's belief in the equality of the sexes. The Shaker Heritage Society in Albany celebrates and interprets this heritage with a 770-acre National Historic District that includes nine remaining Shaker buildings, an herb garden, an apple orchard, the Ann Lee Pond nature preserve and the Shaker cemetery where the settlement's founder is buried.
- "Diamond Dreams" at the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown chronicles the roles women have played in baseball throughout its history, from the field to the front office. Topics covered in this permanent exhibit include the All American Girls' Professional League that inspired the hit film "A League of Their Own," and Effa Manley, the team owner and manager who was the first woman inducted into the Hall of Fame.
- The Matilda Joslyn Gage Home in Fayetteville allows visitors to explore the house where this co-leader of the early women's rights movement lived and worked for 44 years, and its varied history as a center of suffrage work, a stop on the Underground Railroad and a temporary home for Gage's son-in-law, L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- The Women's Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls commemorates the birthplace of the women's rights movement with exhibits, an inspirational film and restored historical buildings like the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Wesleyan Chapel where the First Women's Rights Convention was held. A visit to the nearby National Women's Hall of Fame presents the stories of the over 200 distinguished women who have been inducted there since 1969.
- At the National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House in Rochester, stand where the woman's suffrage leader lived and was arrested in 1872 for daring to vote. Also see the statue of Anthony & abolitionist Frederick Douglas adjacent to the property.
- Known as "the angel of the battlefield" for her bravery in setting up and manning hospitals at the front lines of the Civil War, Clara Barton is best known for founding the Red Cross. The first chapter of the American Red Cross, in Dansville, was started by Barton and still operates today. It is also maintained as a museum that can be visited by appointment with some of her personal belongings, writings and letters.
American Red Cross, in Dansville
Matilda Joslyn Gage Home
National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House
National Women's Hall of Fame
Women's Rights National Historic Park
Find other exciting attractions in the Finger Lakes region.
- In addition to being the "First lady of Comedy," Lucille Ball was also the first woman to head a major Hollywood studio. In her hometown of Jamestown, visitors can celebrate her many accomplishments in her hometown at the Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy, and see vintage memorabilia and recreations of Lucy and Ricky's NYC apartment and Hollywood hotel suite.
- Susan B. Anthony graced the stages of the Lily Dale Assembly early in her career. Today, the Lily Dale Museum in Lily Dale features the Susan B. Anthony women's suffrage exhibit, noted as one of the best women's rights displays in the country. The museum, housed in an 1890 one-room school house, also exhibits photos, artifacts and memorabilia from the founding of Lily Dale as a center for Spiritualism and from the first days of the Spiritualist movement.