2015 marked the 167th Women’s Rights Convention. WENY’s Natalie Abruzzo took a trip to where it all began in Seneca Falls, NY.
August 12, 2015
SENECA FALLS, NY (WENY) — Last month marked the 167th Anniversary of the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Known as the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, Seneca Falls is not only a thriving town, it is also a national treasure.
“This is the start of the biggest social movement in American history. This is the place where half the American population met for the first time to fight for their right. So, this is a very exciting place to be,” said Patrick Stenshorn, a Park Ranger with the Women’s Rights National Historic Park.
Stenshorn is referring to the Women’s Rights Convention of July 19 and 20, 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. There were 300 people in attendence at the Convention – both women and men. The Convention is where the founding document for the Women’s Rights movement, the Declaration of Sentiments, was drafted and adopted. The document outlined 11 resolutions that were crucial to women’s equality.
“It lists all of the demands and rights that women are going to fight for in the Women’s Rights movement and it is a version of the Declaration of Independence but changed to reflect women’s issues rather than Colonial American issues,” said Stenshorn.
The Declaration of Sentiments was drafted by Elizabeth Cady Stanton at a planning session in the parlor of Mary Ann M’Clintock’s house. The original table where the document was drafted now resides at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
The Wesleyan Chapel, where the Women’s Rights Convention was held, went through several owners since it was the Chapel. It was last operated as a Laundromat before becoming a National Park and historic site in 1985.
And even though it would take 72 years from the time of the Convention until the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote, was passed, that did not stop great women throughout our history from accomplishing great things.
Located a few blocks from the site of the first Women’s Rights Convention, is the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
The National Women’s Hall of Fame is the nation’s oldest membership organization dedicated to honoring and celebrating the achievements of distinguished American women.
The Hall currently honors over 256 great women in American History. Everyone from Amelia Earhart and Elenor Roosevelt, to Coretta Scott-King, Maya Angelou and Harriet Tubman. Elmira native, astronaut, Eileen Collins was inducted in 1995.
“It is incredibly important for our society to understand that women are contributors and important contributors to the growth of our country and growth of our economy and the growth of our social life and our culture,” said Jeanne Giovannini, Board President of the Hall.
Startling statistics show that 90% of content in U.S. history books is about men, while only 10% of the content includes women. Students are unable to name 20 women in history who are not athletes, celebrities or First Ladies and only 20% of news articles are about women.
The Hall is working to change those statistics and more through its public induction process and it’s proposed new location at the Knitting Mill.
The Knitting Mill was built and operated from 1844 – 1999. Currently, the Mill is undergoing rehabilitation to stabilize the structure, renovate its interior and restore its facade in order for it to become a state-of-the-art educational venue telling the stories of great American women.
“This Mill has significance to Seneca Falls at many levels, they were abolitionists, they were women’s rights activists, they were human rights activists so we have a special bond with this site and are thrilled that this will become the home of the National Women’s Hall of Fame,” said Giovannini.
The National Women’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held October 2015, and it is open to the public.
For more information about Women’s Rights National Historic Park, visit the Park’s website.
For more information about the National Women’s Hall of Fame and how to nominate a great American women into the Hall, visit the Hall’s website.