Tag Archives: Suffrage Movement

Unique ‘Activist New York’ Exhibit Opens in NYC


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“Activist New York,” the inaugural exhibition in the Museum of the City of New York’s new Puffin Foundation Gallery, will examine the ways in which ordinary New Yorkers have advocated, agitated, and exercised their power to shape the city’s – and the nation’s – future. Centuries of activist efforts, representing the full spectrum of political ideologies, will be illuminated through a series of installations featuring 14 New York movements ranging from the mid-17th century to today.

The exhibition will feature historic artifacts and images from the museum’s collection as well as pieces on loan from other collections, along with interactive elements that enable visitors to explore and express their own views. For the first three weeks of the exhibition attendees will have a chance to view the original “Flushing Remonstrance,” the 1657 landmark document protesting restrictions against Quakers in New Amsterdam.

“Activist New York” begins and ends with questions of religious freedom, from the struggle for religious tolerance in Dutch New Netherland, to today’s debate over a Muslim Cultural Center near Ground Zero. In between, the exhibition examines a wide range of social movements that transformed laws and assumptions regarding race, gender, class, sexuality, economic justice, and other issues.

The Puffin Foundation Gallery is situated in a newly renovated and climate-controlled 2000 square foot south gallery on the Museum’s second floor, and named for the foundation that has supported the gallery with a gift of $3.25 million.

The exhibition unfolds through a series of 14 examples of New York activism:

1. Let Us Stay: The Struggle for Religious Tolerance in Dutch New Netherland, 1650-1664

The exhibition features the Flushing Remonstrance, one of the earliest arguments for religious liberty and tolerance in American history.

2. Beware of Foreign Influence: Nativists and Immigrants, 1830-1860

This section explores efforts to prohibit or limit immigration and contain its impact on 19 th -century New York. Nativists fought to curtail the largely Catholic immigrant community’s access to citizenship, the vote, and public office. The section also illustrates the ways Catholic New Yorkers combated nativism by establishing their own independent institutions to support their community.

3. What Has New York to Do with Slavery? 1827-1865

While New York City was a center of the abolitionist movement, it was also home to many people who sided with the Southern slave owners. This conflict was dramatically revealed in the Draft Riots of July 1863, where the issues of class and race came to a head in a harrowing, violent confrontation. The exhibition chronicles the efforts of both sides of the debate.

4. New York is the Battleground: Woman Suffrage, 1900-1920

In the early 20 th century,New York became the epicenter for organizational activity of the national woman suffrage movement, with suffragists pioneering new methods of behind-the-scenes organizing and media-savvy publicity. The installation also documents the movement against woman suffrage through anti-suffrage images and messages published by aNew York lithograph firm.

5. Houses of Welcome: The Settlement House Movement, 1890-1925

Immigrants in New York at the turn of the 20th century faced overcrowding, illness, and poverty. This section of the exhibition shows how a new type of agent for change—the settlement house worker—combated those conditions by moving into slum neighborhoods to provide instructions in parenting, health, and citizenship.

6. I Am a Working Girl! Upheaval in the Garment Trades, 1909-1915

This installation examines the events that led to reform and improvement of deplorable workplace conditions, including the 1909 “Uprising of the 20,000,” an industry-wide strike by workers affiliated with the fledgling International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, and the 1911 Triangle Waist factory fire tragedy.

7. Art for the Masses: An Activist Theater, 1930-1945

This movement looks at the politically engaged New Yorktheater groups that used their art to confront Depression-era poverty, labor exploitation, political corruption, racial tension, and the rise of Fascism and Nazism in Europe.

8. We Shall Not Be Moved:New York and Civil Rights, 1945-1964

This installation revealsNew York City’s role in the early Civil Rights struggle of the post-World War II era, from the “Boycott Jim Crow” and anti-lynching movements through the emergence of CORE and SNCC, to the Black Power era of the mid-1960s.

9. What’s Wrong with New York? Conservative Activism, 1962-1973

This segment of the exhibition looks at groups, such as “Parents and Taxpayers,” that were unhappy with a leftward drift in the city and blamed it for an increase in disorder, crime, and the swelling municipal budget. Many joined a new third party, the Conservative Party of New York, formed in 1962.

10. Stop the Wrecking Ball! Preserving Historic New York, 1955-1970

This case study shows how the loss of some of the city’s greatest cultural and architectural landmarks fed the efforts of the early historic preservation movement and eventually led to the creation of New York’s groundbreaking Landmarks Preservation Law.

11. “Gay Is Good”: Civil Rights for Gays and Lesbians, 1969-2012

This installation shows how the Stonewall Riots galvanized the modern gay rights movement in New York and led to the creation of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, ACT UP, and other organizations. The installation brings the story up to date with the successful campaign to secure the legalization of gay marriages in New York State.

12. “Don’t Move, Improve”: Reviving the South Bronx, 1970-2012

The South Bronx became an international icon of urban blight in the 1970s. This section of the exhibition examines grassroots advocacy groups, community organizations, and church congregations that took ownership of the rebuilding of their neighborhoods into livable, affordable communities.

13. Love Your Lane: Bicycle Advocacy, 1965-2011

Amid concerns about ecology, traffic congestion, and pollution, pioneering activists lobbied for changes in the traffic laws. Today, as part of the Bloomberg administration PlaNYC’s effort to build a greener, more sustainable city, bike lanes proliferate, as does agitation against for and against them, as this installation documents.

14. Park 51: 2010-2012

This section provides a detailed exploration of the controversy over the construction of an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, which is reminiscent of the long and turbulent saga of activism surrounding issues of religious expression in New York City.

Interactive elements throughout the exhibition provide opportunities to dig more deeply and bring the historic stories up to date. A series of touch screens present a timeline of the history of activism in the city, with more than two hundred examples ranging from slave revolts of the 18th century to the Newsboys’ Strike of 1899 to the woman behind the movement that led to New York’s 1978 “pooper scooper” law. Additional kiosks with touch screens invite visitors to explore the work of contemporary activist groups and send email messages to these groups expressing the visitors’ views on current activism. In addition, members of the general public may submit photographs of contemporary activist in the city to a photo blog housed on the Museum’s website (www.mcny.org) and carried live in the Puffin Foundation Gallery.

“Activist New York” has been organized by an exhibition team led by Sarah M. Henry, the Museum’s Deputy Director and Chief Curator. Steven H. Jaffe served as guest curator, and Christina Ziegler-McPherson as associate guest curator. The exhibition team was aided by the Puffin Foundation Gallery Advisory Committee, chaired by Peter G. Carroll, Executive Director, Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, and comprising scholars and activists Esther Cohen, Joshua Freeman, Victor Navasky, Bruno Quinson, Christopher Rhomberg, Tom Roderick, and Perry, Gladys, and Neal Rosenstein.

Photo: Picketers during a 1910 garment workers strike (Library of Congress)

Suffrage Campaign Wagon on Display at Capitol


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A horse-drawn suffrage campaign wagon used by suffragist Edna Buckman Kearns to organize for Votes for Women is on exhibit at the state capitol in Albany, through May 2012. The artifact of the suffrage movement is representative of the tens of thousands of women nationwide who participated in the 72-year movement to win the right to vote for women.

The story of the Edna Kearns suffrage campaign wagon is detailed in a blog and web site called Suffrage Wagon News Channel (suffragewagon.org), which for the past two years has been publishing news and stories of the Votes for Women movement. Suffrage Wagon News Channel is published by Marguerite Kearns, the granddaughter of Edna Buckman Kearns, and it features the writings and organizing of Edna Kearns who worked on Long Island and New York City as an writer and editor of suffrage news as well as an on-the-ground organizer for the state and national campaigns.

“All types of people are amazed when they hear stories of the suffrage movement,” says Marguerite Kearns, who said she grew up listening to family stories about Grandmother Edna, but she didn’t learn about the suffrage movement in school.

“My grandmother died in 1934, so what I know is from the papers my grandmother saved. As I read my grandmother’s writings and news clippings, I am touched by the dedication and persistence of her generation. We stand on strong shoulders, and this type of strength is something we don’t have to reinvent. It’s part of a collective memory that comes alive when stories of the movement are shared.”

Suffrage centennials have been celebrated in the western states where women first won the right to vote. Oregon, for example, has numerous events scheduled for its centennial in 2012. And New York State is putting preliminary plans in place to celebrate its centennial in 2017. The national centennial for Votes for Women is set for 2020 in the United States.

The exhibit is sponsored by NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo at the state capitol to recognize women’s accomplishments and as a way to make history more real for his three daughters.

Judith Wellman Keynotes Annual Peterboro Tea


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Dr. Judith Wellman, well known scholar and author on the history of women’s rights and the Underground Railroad, will be the keynote speaker on Sunday, September 25 at 12:30 p.m. at the Annual In the Kitchen Bloomer Tea held at the Smithfield Community Center in Peterboro to celebrate Elizabeth Smith Miller’s birthday and women’s rights heritage. Miller, daughter of Ann and Gerrit Smith, is credited with creating a trouser costume in the mid 1800s that became a symbol of the women’s movement.



Dr. Wellman, author of The Road to Seneca Falls, will describe Peterboro’s role in the women’s movement, including the influence of Gerrit and Ann Smith during the summers that Elizabeth Cady Stanton spent in Peterboro, the debates over dress reform, and the inclusion of women in the Liberty League convention. Wellman states, “Everybody knows about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her work for women’s rights. But few people understand how important her cousins, Gerrit and Ann Smith and their daughter Elizabeth Smith Miller, were in shaping her reform agenda. Stanton and Elizabeth Smith Miller had a lifelong friendship, based on their shared sense of humor and their commitment to women’s rights (including dress reform). From Gerrit Smith, Stanton gained access to ideas and people at the highest levels of antislavery organization. (If you) want to hear the backstory of the Seneca Falls convention, come to this talk!”

Judith Wellman, Ph.D., is Historian and Principal Investigator, Historical New York Research Associates, and professor emerita, State University of New York at Oswego. Wellman has more than 30 years of award-winning experience in research, teaching, cultural resource surveys, and grants administration in U.S. history, women’s history, local history, Underground Railroad history, and historic preservation.

After earning her Ph.D. at the University of Virginia in 1974, Judith Wellman taught history at the State University of New York at Oswego. She teaches two online courses through the SUNY Learning Network and the State University of New York at Oswego: “Doing History Locally” and “Historic Preservation and Heritage Tourism.”

Judith Wellman has worked as a consultant and principal investigator on award-winning projects with the National Park Service, the Mary Baker Eddy Library, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the U. S. Department of Education, the Preservation League of New York State, the New York State Office of Historic Preservation, the New York Council for the Humanities, the Documentary Heritage Program of the New York State Archives, National Public Radio, the U.S. Department of Education, the Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History, and a wide variety of local historical, genealogical, teachers, women’s, and preservation groups. She also regularly gives papers at major scholarly conventions, including the Organization of American Historians, Association for the Study of African American Life, and the National Council on Public History.

Judith Wellman is a member of the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, the American Association for State and Local History, the Association for the Study of African American Life, and the National Council for Public History. She is a member of the Preservation League of New York State and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She is listed as a researcher for cultural resource surveys with the Preservation League of New York State and with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. She has served on the boards of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation, the Women’s Museum and Leadership Center, the Heritage Foundation of Oswego, and the New York State History Advisory Board of the New York State Education Department. She is currently Coordinator of the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse Museum.

Wellman’s keynote Peterboro on the Road to Seneca Falls follows a tea catered by The Copper Turret of Morrisville NY and served by ladies attired in the Bloomer costume of Peterboro. Debra Kolsrud will describe ongoing history activities in Stanton’s hometown of Johnstown NY. Maxine Getty and Jody Luce will read Miller and Stanton letters. There will also be basket raffles and door prizes.

The tea is a presentation in a series of programs offered by the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark in Peterboro made possible, in part, by a PACE grant from the Central New York Community Foundation. $35 reservations required by August 27. $40 reservations by September 17. Seating is limited. Send check to Smithfield Community Association (501c3) PO Box 42, Peterboro NY 13134 or visit www.inthekitchentea.com

Stanton and Anthony: A World Changing Friendship


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In the spring of 1851 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were introduced to each other on a street corner in Seneca Falls NY. Immediately drawn to each other, they formed an everlasting and legendary friendship. Together, they challenged entrenched beliefs, customs, and laws that oppressed women and spearheaded the fight to gain legal rights, including the right to vote, despite fierce opposition, daunting conditions, scandalous entanglements, and betrayal by their friends and allies. Penny Colman weaves commentary, events, quotations, and personalities into her new book Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship That Changed the World and into her program on the two famous women’s rights activists. Continue reading

Peterboro Programs to Observe Women’s Rights


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Equality Day has been observed on August 26 since 1971 when the efforts of Congresswoman Bella Abzug succeeded in commemorating the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – the Woman Suffrage Amendment. The final programs of the 2011 Peterboro Heritage season recognize women of the 19th Century who laid the ground work for extending suffrage to disenfranchised groups.



Equality Day Weekend will be observed in Peterboro by two presentations on three women who led the women’s rights movement. On Saturday, August 27 at 2 p.m. author Penny Colman presents Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship that Changed the World, and signs her new book by the same name at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro. The next day Dr. Carol Faulkner presents her new biography Lucretia Mott’s Heresy: Abolition and Women’s History in 19th Century America at the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro.

The Fourth Annual Elizabeth Smith Miller In the Kitchen Bloomer Tea will be held on Sunday, September 25 at 12:30 at the Smithfield Community Center with Dr. Judith Wellman speaking on Peterboro and the Road to Seneca Falls. Debra Kolstrud, the owner of the historical home at 9 S. William Street in Johnstown NY where Susan B. Anthony boarded in 1884 when she and Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote the third volume of their History of Woman Suffrage, will update on activities in Johnstown, Stanton’s hometown. Selected letters between cousins Elizabeth Smith Miller and Elizabeth Cady Stanton will be read. (Reservations are required.: $35 by August 27. $40 by September 17.) Seating is limited. For more information and online reservations visit www.inthekitchentea.com.

On Saturday, October 22 the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum will induct Abby Kelley Foster, the 19th Century Worcester abolitionist and women’s rights activist, into the Hall of Fame at ceremonies held at Colgate University. Stacey Robertson, Director of Women’s Studies program at Bradley University in Peoria IL, presents Abby Kelley Foster: A Radical Voice to the West at 12:30 pm in Golden Auditorium. That evening Lynne McKenney Lydick, Worcester Women’s History Project, will perform Yours for Humanity, a one woman play about Foster.

The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum are open from 1 – 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from May 14 to October 23 in 2011. Admission to each site is two dollars. Stewards and students are free. For more information: Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro NY 13134-0006. Call 315-684-3262 or visit online.

National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134-0055. Call 315-684-3262 or visit online.

For more information and updates, follow www.sca-peterboro.org and www.AbolitionHoF.org

19th Amendment Festival in Susan B. Anthony Park


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The annual 19th Amendment Festival will be held on Saturday, August 20, 2011 from noon to 5 p.m., in the Susan B. Anthony Park between Madison and King streets in Rochester.

Music and entertainment in the park will be provided by the Hochstein School of Music and Dance as well as the Genesee Harmonic Society of the Genesee Country Village and Museum. Authentic nineteenth-century base ball demonstrations will be provided by Genesee Country Village’s women base ball team, in period costumes, following the rules and etiquette of the game as it was played in the 1800s. Continue reading

A Teacher Open House at the Gage Center


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The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation in Fayetteville, NY would like to share with teachers the opportunity to learn more about Matilda Joslyn Gage, an important local historical figure on Thursday, September 22, 3:30-5:30 pm.

Matilda Joslyn Gage (1824-1898) was involved in the Abolitionist Movement and the Underground Railroad. Along with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gage was a major figure in the Women’s Rights Movement. With them, she co-authored The History of Woman Suffrage.

She was a supporter of Native American sovereignty and a proponent of the total separation of Church and State, she was the author of Woman, Church and State.

Because of her strong, liberal position on religious freedom, she was written out of history books until recently.

Gage’s ideas are as relevant today as they were in the 19th century and this is a great way to bring Central New York history into your classroom and promote discussion of the past and contemporary issues.

Materials for lessons, activities, and curriculum packets available.

For more information, call 637-9511.

NY Suffrage Writer Hits PBS in September


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Writer Louise Bernikow uncovers the long Suffrage Campaign in New York City, a place she says “where the urban landscape became a prop for incomparable political spectacle. The Statue of Liberty, the transit system, Fifth Avenue, Wall Street, parks and streetcorners– all became venues for a complicated, shifting alliance across lines of race and class, ending in a historic victory in 1917.” Continue reading

Eleven Named to National Women’s Hall of Fame


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The National Women’s Hall of Fame has announced the upcoming induction of eleven American women who have made valuable and enduring contributions to our nation. These women will be formally inducted on September 30th and October 1st, 2011 in Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the American Women’s Rights Movement.

The National Women’s Hall of Fame is the nation’s oldest membership organization recognizing the achievements of great American women. Inductees are selected every two years based on their lasting contributions to society through the arts, athletics, business, education, government, humanities, philanthropy and science. From a group of over 200 completed nominations, a national panel of judges conducted a rigorous scoring process and selected eleven women for Induction. Continue reading

NYS Museum: Women’s History Exhibit During March


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In celebration of Women’s History Month, the New York State Museum will open a small exhibition March 1 featuring artifacts and images from the woman’s suffrage movement of the early 20th century. “Women Who Rocked the Vote” will be open through March in the Museum’s front lobby window.

The exhibition chronicles the history of the suffrage movement, which was officially launched when Elizabeth Cady Stanton added the demand for equal suffrage to the Declaration of Sentiments at the first woman’s rights convention in Seneca Falls that she helped organize. Modeled on the Declaration of Independence, the declaration condemned male tyranny. It also claimed for women “all the rights and privileges” of citizenship. News of the convention sparked controversy and helped ignite a national movement.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a large wooden wagon that was once covered in suffrage banners and hand-painted signs as suffrage activists used the wagon as both a prop and a speaker’s platform. There also are historic images and a large painted banner carried in a massive suffrage parade up Fifth Avenue in New York City. The parade came just 10 days before the November 1917 election which gave women the right to vote in New York State. Two years later the state ratified the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibited sex-based restrictions on the right to vote.

The New York State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Founded in 1836, the museum has the longest continuously operating state natural history research and collection survey in the U.S. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open daily from 9:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Photo: Suffrage Parade, NYC 1912

Books: Madison County’s Frank L. Baum, Wizard of Oz


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This summer the film “The Wizard of Oz” marked its 70th anniversary. Just in time comes The Real Wizard of Oz: The Life and Times of L. Frank Baumby Rebecca Loncraine, the first full biography of L. Frank Baum – from his birth in 1856 and his youth in the Finger Lakes region, to the years following his death – that looks at the people, places, history, culture, and literature that influenced the renowned storyteller. From the Civil War to women’s suffrage, from amputation to modern medicine, from psychics to industrialization, Baum saw it all and it was reflected in his writings. Loncraine is an acknowledged expert on Oz and Baum who traveled the US to study him, his works and the impact they had on our culture for the book.

When The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written at the turn of the century, it quickly became an icon of American Culture. The public and the media were entranced by myths surrounding Baum’s creation, all covered in the book:

Was OZ really named from the O-Z on his file cabinet?

Was the book really a reaction to the Populist party?

What was Baum’s incredible connection to PT Barnum?

Ten Named to National Women’s Hall of Fame


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To coincide with Women’s History Month, the National Women’s Hall of Fame announces its 2009 Inductees. Included in the group of ten outstanding American women are world-renowned artist Louise Bourgeois, biochemist Dr. Mildred Cohn, attorney and women’s rights activist Karen DeCrow, domestic violence advocate Susan Kelly-Dreiss, attorney and social justice activist Dr. Allie B. Latimer, ecologist and limnologist Dr. Ruth Patrick, and atmospheric scientist Dr. Susan Solomon. These women, along with three historic figures, will be inducted during a weekend of celebration to be held in Seneca Falls, New York on October 10-11, 2009. Seneca Falls was the location of the first women’s rights convention, held in 1848. The event began a 72-year struggle for women’s suffrage. Continue reading

A New Book on Seneca Falls and Women’s Rights


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Tim Stafford over at Books and Culture, has reviewed Sally McMillen’s new book Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement. He kicks it off with a revealing story about the place of women’s history among leading historians:

“Chatting casually with historian James McPherson, Davidson professor Sally McMillen learned that he was co-editing a series called Pivotal Moments in American History. “Surprised by what I did not hear, I responded, ‘But you have nothing on women!’ He looked at me and asked, ‘Do you have any ideas?’ ‘Well, as a start,’ I answered, ‘Seneca Falls.’” Continue reading