The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro NY will be commemorating the New York State Centennial of Women’s Suffrage with a Women’s History Weekend September 22-24, 2017. These two heritage organizations will collaborate with partners for the Ballots, Bloomers, and Marmalade programs that celebrate local history and its connection to the state’s and nation’s history of women’s rights.
The Ballots, Bloomers and Marmalade Weekend September 22-24, 2017, will focus on Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Elizabeth Smith Miller, and Angelina Grimke.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who spent her summers in Peterboro learning of reform at the home of her cousin abolitionist Gerrit Smith, organized, with Lucretia Mott, the first women’s rights convention in 1848 in Seneca Falls. Stanton insisted on the right to the ballot being on the platform of the convention. It was also in Peterboro that Cady met Henry B. Stanton and where he proposed to her, and where she said, “Yes.”
Elizabeth Smith Miller (Libby), daughter of Ann and Gerrit Smith, designed a trouser outfit that was healthier for women’s bodies, safer to wear when carrying a child and a candle on a steep stair, and freer of the filth gathered in the muddy 19. C. streets. While wearing her trouser outfit and visiting her cousin Elizabeth Cady Stanton in Seneca Falls, Miller was introduced to Amelia Bloomer, editor of a women’s newspaper, where she described the healthy garment. The outfit became known as the “bloomer” outfit. Miller moved to property in Geneva which her brother Green had earlier owned. Miller and her daughter Ann formed the Geneva Political Equality Club which had the most members of any such organization in New York State. Interested in the domestic sphere of women, Libby published a 575 page cookbook in 1875. Her cousin Stanton had suggested the title, In the Kitchen. The book includes marmalade recipes. Libby made and sold marmalade to raise money for the education of young women.
Angelina Grimké (1805-1879) was a white Southerner who became an advocate for the immediate end to slavery and for racial equality. Born to a wealthy, slave-owning family in Charleston SC she came to see the cruelties of slavery. At age 24 she moved to Philadelphia to escape the witness of slavery and to join a religious denomination that disowned slaveowners. In 1835, she became a member of the Philadelphia Female Antislavery Society, and the next year she, and her sister Sarah, became the first female grassroots organizers for the American Anti-Slavery Society. Grimké was inducted into the Abolition Hall of Fame in Peterboro in 2016 and will be commemorated there during Abolition Week October 21 & 22. The historical novel The Invention of Wings has caused increased interest in the Grimké sisters, their contributions to the abolition and women’s rights movement, and their visits and connections to Peterboro.
Friday, September 22
The Peterboro Women’s History weekend opens Friday, September 22, 2017 at 7 pm with the play The Game of Life: The Great Peterboro Baseball Story. The Oneida Public Library (OPL) Players, directed by Virginia Drake with the assistance of Ken Drake, will be performing a readers’ theater in the Smithfield Community Center at 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro.
The play, written by Tom Murray, assistant director OPL, is a comedy focusing on the first recorded baseball game played by girls that occurred in Peterboro in August 1868. Major characters are based on historical figures, such as Gerrit Smith and his wife Ann, their granddaughter Nannie Miller and Smith’s famous cousin, the Suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Taking liberties with history, the play adds, to the mix of suffragettes and abolitionists, some residents of Peterboro’s Home for Destitute Children, a charitable home founded by Gerrit Smith in 1871. The play features Ken Drake as Gerrit Smith, Virginia Drake as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Kathy Brodeur as the Village Busybody. Music and songs of the period, including Suffragette anthems, will be provided by members of the Craobh Dugan Irish musicians, led by Bill Fahy. The performance is free and open to the public of all ages.
Saturday, September 23
Reception and refreshments for Peterboro Women’s History Weekend begins at 8 am Saturday morning. The Peterboro United Methodist Church will serve marmalade, quick breads, and beverages.
Norman K. Dann PhD will set the stage for the Saturday themes at 9 am by introducing Elizabeth Smith Miller and her women’s rights activities: suffrage, dress reform, and young women’s education. Only daughter of Ann and Gerrit Smith, Elizabeth, with her only daughter Anne, founded the Geneva Political Equality Club in 1897, and in 1904 the club had 400 members – the largest such club in NYS.
Miller is also credited with the dress reform outfit named after Amelia Bloomer when Bloomer wrote about the health of her garment in her newspaper THE LILY. at 10 am, Jody Luce, the Tailor of Peterboro, will explain and demonstrate the 19th C. trouser outfit, and describe the health and social impact.
Debra A. Shattuck PhD is a retired Air Force Colonel and Provost at Witherspoon College, Rapid City SD whose book Bloomer Girls: Women Baseball has been published this year after a decade of research. Her presentation at 11 am will describe the early roots of America’s national pastime and demonstrate that girls and women have been playing bat and ball games since medieval times. Peterboro had one of the first organized women’s baseball teams in the nation. Miller’s daughter Anne was a captain of one team. Shattuck will discuss whether or not women baseball players considered their actions to be part of the broader women’s rights movement of the time.
At noon, the Peterboro Deli on the Green will serve a Bloomer Tea with a menu inspired by Elizabeth Smith Miller’s 1875 cookbook In the Kitchen, a name suggested by her cousin Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The Bloomer Brigade will serve dressed in Luce’s historical reproductions of bloomers. Announcements, introductions and historical notes will be throughout the luncheon.
At 2 pm, Melinda Grube, PhD in Women Studies and an adjunct lecturer in History at Cayuga Community College in Auburn NY, will portray Stanton and tell the influence of her summers in Peterboro, her development as an abolitionist, a wife, mother, and as the strong voice and pen for women’s rights. Grube aka Stanton will also answer questions directly.
At 3 pm, Rosemary Plakas, retired archivist at the Library of Congress will present a PowerPoint on her research of the seven suffrage scrapbooks assembled by Libby and Anne Miller that are in the collections at the Library of Congress. Souvenirs, newspaper clippings, and letters demonstrate ballot activities such as parades, political equality meetings, and letter writing campaigns.
At 4 pm, a session titled Monumental Women will include three brief reports on a campaign for the first monument in Central Park to feature women, photos from the Bloomers for the ‘80s march in Seneca Falls in 1981, and an update on the January 2017 March on Washington.
The Deli on the Green will prepare an evening meal served by the Smithfield Youth Association at 5 pm. After dinner a banner for Elizabeth Smith Miller will be unveiled.
At 7 pm Peggy Lynn, “The First Lady of Adirondack Music,” whose writing and performing of songs of history is popular, will conclude the day. Lynne will introduce the songs with background information. Selections for audience participation will be included.
Sunday, September 24
Sunday morning begins with a guided walk at 8 am by Norman K. Dann PhD at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic tracing the steps of the women Susan B. Anthony, Angelina Grimké, Elizabeth Smith Miller, Harriet Powell, Harriet Russell, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Harriet Tubman.
The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum will open at 9:00 featuring inductee banners of Lydia Maria Child, Abby Kelley Foster, Myrtilla Miner, Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman, along with the ten panel exhibit on Women’s Transatlantic Anti-Slavery Networks.
Parity Breakfast items will be available at $1.00 for men and $.79 for women at 9:30 am.
At 10:30 Suzanne B. Spring will describe how the abolition movement launched the women’s rights movement in her program Before the Beginning: Abolition and the Women’s Rights Movement. Angelina Grimké will be referenced as a woman who represents both movements. Grimké was inducted into the National Abolition Hall of Fame in 2016. Spring is Senior Lecturer in Writing and Rhetoric and Academic Director of the Office of Undergraduate Studies at Colgate University., and a former member of the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum who Co-Chaired the Ongoing Abolition Committee.
At 11:30 am, Libraries in Madison and Oneida Counties (Canastota, Cazenovia, Hamilton, Jervis, Kirkland, Oneida, Sherrill-Kenwood, and Sullivan) will partner with the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum and relatives of Angelina and Sarah Grimké to launch a month long read of Sue Monk Kidd’s popular novel The Invention of Wings. The novel describes the early lives of Sarah and Angelina Grimké and slaves Charlotte and Hetty in Charleston SC. The CommUnity Read will culminate Sunday, October 21. On that day Louise Knight will answer historical question on the novel’s story and at 2 pm Knight will share her research for the preparation of her upcoming publication American Sisters: Sarah and Angelina Grimké and the First Fight for Human Rights. Knight will have presented Angelina Grimké the day before. The first twenty-five registrants for the Women’s History Weekend will receive a free copy of The Invention of Wings.
At 12:30 pm, a panel composed of community members will briefly present on Voice and Pen actions that individuals can privately take to continue the women’s movement. Each attendee will be supplied with a tool bag for personal prompts to continue the movement for which women have fought so long.
At 1:30 pm, Dr. Wagner, the executive director at the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center for Social Justice, will examine the belief of Gage and Stanton that women needed to look to the larger issues. Those issues were: creating a system of cooperation, not competition; ensuring that every child born was wanted and women were the “absolute sovereigns” of their bodies; rebalancing economic disparity while gaining equal pay for women and demanding a “true” religion, one that fostered freedom and equality for all. Wagner was awarded one of the first doctorates in the country in women’s studies. Registration for the event is at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro. Participants are encouraged to wear 19th Century bloomers or suffrage outfits.
Reservations for the Peterboro Women’s History Weekend are due September 15th . Package reservations for programs and meals on Saturday are $67, reservations for programs and meals on Sunday are $35, and reservations for the programs and meals for the entire weekend are $85. Individual programs are $5 and may be paid at the door. The Game of Life and The Rest of The Story of the Suffrage Movement are free and encourage all to attend. For updates, information and registration forms, click here, call (315) 280-8828, or email mercantile.gerritsmith.org.