Women’s Rights National Historical Park tells the story of the first Women’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, NY on July 19-20,1848. It is a story of struggles for civil rights, human rights, and equality, global struggles that continue today. The efforts of women’s rights leaders, abolitionists, and other 19th century reformers remind us that all people must be accepted as equals.
Gathered together on two hot days in July of 1848, one hundred women and men echoed these words with their signatures in support of the Declaration of Sentiments. Just 10 days earlier on July 9th, five reform-minded women met at a social gathering in Waterloo, New York and decided to hold a convention, a very common way to promote change in 1848. They published a "call" in the local newspaper inviting people to "...a Convention to discuss the social, civil and religious rights and condition of woman." The convention was to be held on July 19th and 20th in the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, three miles east of Waterloo. Relying heavily on pre-existing networks of reformers, relatives and friends, the convention drew over 300 people.
This event was not the first time the rights of women had been discussed in American society. Nor was it the only way that women fought for their rights throughout the 19th and 20th century. But it was a crucial, formal beginning of a movement in the United States that grew rapidly in the years leading up to the American Civil War of the 1860s, highlighted by a series of woman's rights conventions and local and regional grass roots efforts that used the demands expressed in the Declaration of Sentiments to advance the position of women in American society.
Though the campaign for women's right to vote is the most famous of the demands of the Declaration of Sentiments, it was only one of many including equal educational opportunities, the right to property and earnings, the right to the custody of children in the event of divorce or death of a spouse and many other important social, political, and economic rights that continue to be contested in the United States and around to the world.
Women's Rights National Historical Park was established in 1980 to "preserve and interpret for the education, inspiration and benefit of present and future generations, the nationally significant historical and cultural sites and structures associated with the struggle for equal rights for women and to cooperate with State and local entities to preserve the character and historic setting of such sites and structures."
Explore the people, places, stories...and more, associated with the First Woman's Rights Convention.