Women's Rights National Historical Park

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Quick Overview

This is the audio-only described version of the park’s official brochure. Women's Rights National Historical Park is the home of the first women's right convention in 1848. The brochure includes illustrations, historic black and white photographs, maps and text. Side one includes information about the history of the park and planning your visit. Side two focuses on the history of the women’s rights movement, including timelines of important events and highlights of significant individuals. Subjects and image descriptions are presented under their own sections.

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The top half of side one presents text over a color photo of a grouping of bronze statues--mostly women--involved in the women’s rights movement. Following is the text. The statue description is under its own section.

Quote: “I was born and lived almost forty years in South Bristol, Ontario County— one of the most secluded spots in Western New York, but from the earliest dawn of reason I pined for that freedom of thought and action that was then denied to all womankind . . . . But not until that meeting at Seneca Falls in 1848, of the pioneers in the cause, gave this feeling of unrest form and voice, did I take action.” Emily Collins

Text: For Emily Collins, who went on to start a local equal rights organization, and for other women of 1840s America, the news of a women’s rights convention was a vivid reminder of their inferior status. By law or by custom an unmarried woman generally did not vote, speak in public, hold office, attend college, or earn a living other than as a teacher, seamstress, domestic, or mill worker. A married woman lived under these restrictions and more: she could not make contracts, sue in court, divorce her husband, gain custody of her children, or own property, even the clothes she wore. Though middle-class wives reigned over the domestic sphere, legally their husbands controlled them. Individual women publicly expressed their desire for equality, but it was not until 1848 that a handful of reformers in Seneca Falls, New York, called “A Convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of Woman.”

Why Seneca Falls? A significant reform community emerged in western New York in the 1830s and 1840s. Among these reformers were abolitionists who joined relatives and started businesses in Seneca Falls and Waterloo. Here and elsewhere, Quaker women like Lucretia Mott took an active role in the effort to end slavery. For Mott, her sister Martha Wright, Jane Hunt, Mary Ann M’Clintock, and 32- year-old Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the next logical step was to demand rights for women. In July 1848 they planned the convention and hammered out a formal list of grievances based on the Declaration of Independence, demanding equality in property rights, education, employment, religion, marriage and family, and suffrage. The demand for the vote was so radical that even Mott protested, but Stanton had her way. On July 19 the Declaration of Sentiments was presented to an audience of about 300. “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal,” announced Stanton at the First Women’s Rights Convention.

The women expected controversy. True ladies, a Philadelphia newspaper wrote after the convention, would be foolish to sacrifice their status as “Wives, Belles, Virgins and Mothers” for equal rights.

Many signers of the declaration removed their names. But 12 days later a second convention was held in Rochester. By 1900 armies of women marched for suffrage. Today many of the convention’s most radical demands are taken for granted. The Declaration of Sentiments was the start; its words reach far beyond that warm July day in Seneca Falls.

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Photo Description: “The First Wave” Sculpture

Photo caption: “The First Wave” sculpture group by Lloyd Lillie. Facing row, left to right: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, two unidentified women, Martha Coffin Wright. In profile at right: Thomas and Mary Ann M’Clintock, unidentified woman.

Photo description: Pictured are twelve of the twenty life-sized bronze-sculpted figures presented in a group. The sculpture includes Mary Ann and Thomas M'Clintock, Lucretia and James Mott, Jane and Richard Hunt, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, pregnant Martha Wright and eleven anonymous participants who represented the women and men in attendance at the convention. The women and men are dressed in the fashion of the mid 1800s. Some of the women wear bonnets that cover their heads. Their hair is pulled back into buns. Their long dresses are tight-fitting at the waists. Many of their dress or jacket collars have ruffled trim. At the far left, Stanton has ringlets hanging down at the side of her face with the rest of her hair pulled back. At the far right, an unidentified woman holds a fan. The men wear long suit coats. Behind Stanton on the left, Douglass wears a vest, shirt, and tie. At the right in the background, M’Clintock wears a top hat. The sculptures are located in the front lobby of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. Photo credit: Jeff Gnass

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Planning Your Visit

Text: The setting for the First Women’s Rights Convention and the homes of some participants are preserved at Women’s Rights National Historical Park, established by Congress in 1980.

Description: The bottom half of side one includes directions, visitor center and contact information, text and four small color graphics of three houses and a chapel. Below this information is a detailed map of the park and its surroundings and a smaller inset map of the larger area. Each topic and the descriptions are under their own headings. Each of the four color illustrations are credited to the NPS and Greg Harlin.

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Directions and Visitor Center Information

  • Directions: From I-90 (New York State Thruway) take exit 41; go south on NY 414; east on US 20, (becomes Fall St.); follow signs to the visitor center. There is no fee for admission. 
  • Visitor Center: Begin at the visitor center, 136 Fall St., open daily except fall and winter federal holidays. Hours are 9 am to 5 pm. There are exhibits, a film, and a schedule of activities. The visitor center is accessible for visitors with disabilities; ask about access to the other sites. Service animals are welcome. 

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M'Clintock House

Text: The M’Clintock House was owned by the Hunts, who rented it to relatives and fellow Quaker abolitionists Mary Ann and Thomas M’Clintock. Convention planners met here on July 16, 1848, to draft the Declaration of Sentiments.

Illustration description: This street-level view is of the front and right side of the M’Clintock House. The house is characteristic of the Greek Revival style and is built of red brick. It is two stories high and has white double-hung windows, all of which have green shutters opened to either side of each window. Three windows are across the front second floor. On the side of the house there is one window in the middle on the second floor. Below this second-floor window on the side is an identical window on the first floor. In the front on the first floor are two double hung, windows which are to the left of the front entry way when facing the house. The front entry way includes a white door with smaller rectangle windows on either side and a transom window above. There are three block steps that lead up to the door and two small windows at the foundation, or basement level of the house in the front.

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Hunt House

Text: The Hunt House was the home of Jane and Richard Hunt, Quakers active in the Waterloo reform community. Stanton, Mott, Wright, M’Clintock, and Jane Hunt gathered here on July 9 to plan the convention.

Illustration description: The illustration is of the front of the home. It is a rectangular, two story red brick house built in the popular Greek Revival style. There are two chimneys on the roof at both ends. A large front white gable is above the second story. Four white columns that extend from the floor of the front porch upwards support the gable. The second story has five white double-hung windows with black shutters. There are four windows on the first floor--two on each side of the front door, which is in the center in between the two middle columns. The single door is white with a decorative glass arched window above and rectangular windows on either side, only partially seen behind the two middle columns.

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton House

Text: The Elizabeth Cady Stanton House was the family’s home for 15 years. Stanton’s activism was based in large part on her experiences as a Seneca Falls housewife. She was 31 years old when she moved here in 1847 with her husband Henry Stanton, a lawyer and abolitionist lecturer, and three boys. They had four more children. Until she met Lucretia Mott and other reformers, Stanton found small-town life oppressive: “My duties were too numerous and varied and none sufficiently exhilarating or intellectual to bring into play my higher faculties. I suffered with mental hunger, which, like an empty stomach, is very depressing.” Stanton defied many of the day’s housekeeping and child-rearing customs. For many years she dressed in an outfit popularized by Amelia Bloomer, loose pants and a knee-length skirt, which allowed freedom of movement. She encouraged her seven children to join parlor discussions with visitors like the Motts and Frederick Douglass. She hosted a “conversation club” for young adults. Her benevolent work with the town’s poor made her all the more aware of women’s economic insecurity. Guided tours of the Stanton house are available in summer and on a limited basis during the rest of the year.

Illustration description: Presented from the front, the architecture of the Stanton house is of the vernacular Greek Revival style. When facing the front of this white-painted house, the main section has two stories (left) with an attached one-story east wing (right). Two red brick chimneys extend up from both ends of the house. The main part of the house has two double-hung windows with open green shutters on the first and second floors and two smaller basement windows at the foundation level. The single story east wing has a covered porch that runs the entire length of the wing. Close to where the main house and the east wing meet is a green door with rectangular windows on either side. Next to it are two double-hung windows with open green shutters.

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Wesleyan Chapel

Text: On July 19 and 20, 1848, some 300 women and men gathered in the Wesleyan Chapel to hear the first formal demands for women’s rights. Curious local residents joined abolitionists, temperance workers, and reformers to fill the chapel. On the first day they debated the wording of the Declaration of Sentiments. The Seneca County Courier reported that “an intelligent and respectful audience” attended the public session that evening to hear the “eminently beautiful and instructive” discourse of Lucretia Mott. At the next day’s session the amended declaration was adopted; 100 women and men signed the document. Frederick Douglass reiterated his support at the final session.

Illustration description: This illustration is of the front and left side of the chapel. It is a two-story red brick building. A red brick chimney extends above the roof at the far back left side. A shuttered window is centered right underneath where the roof comes to a point. Also at the front of the chapel are three white double-hung windows on the second floor. The first floor has two large wooden white doors in the center with a window on either side. On the side of the building is a row of five evenly spaced white double-hung windows on the first and second floors.

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Across the bottom third of side one is a map of the park and vicinity. In the lower right corner is a smaller inset map that shows the larger area in relationship to the park. Each are described under their own section. 

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Map of Park Within the Larger Area

The park is located in Seneca Falls, New York. It is relatively close to Lake Ontario, which is north of the park. Also north of the park are the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and the Susan B. Anthony House, which is located in Rochester. Ithaca is south of the park and Waterloo is west of the park. The New York State Thruway, Route 90, runs east-west and is north of the park. East of the park is Route 81, which runs north-south. Other close by roads are 414 which runs north-south and 20, which runs east-west. The legend on this map indicates that about a half of an inch equals 20 miles or 20 kilometers. 

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Detailed Map of the Park Area

The Women’s Rights National Historical Park Visitor Center is located in the historic district of the town of Seneca Falls on Fall Street, close to the intersecting streets of Clinton and Mynderse. Within close distance are Weslyan Chapel, Declaration Park, the National Women’s Hall of Fame, People’s Park and the Seneca Falls Visitor Center and Seneca Museum. Also within the northern section of the historic district and within a mile of the visitor center is the Seneca Falls Historical Society, which is near the in-town Van Cleef Lake. East of the visitor center and on the border of the historic district is Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s House.

West of Seneca Falls and within approximately 4 miles of the park visitor center is the town of Waterloo. Located within its historic area is the M’Clintock House, the Waterloo Library and Historical Society and the Waterloo Memorial Day Museum. If heading west from Seneca Falls, right before the historic area of Waterloo is the Hunt House.  

When heading west, Van Cleef Lake in the town of Seneca Falls, turns into Cayuga and Seneca Canal, which meanders east-west through Waterloo. When in the town of Waterloo, there are various offshoots of this body of water, which includes a canal lock. Paralleling the meandering canal to the north and also running east-west are routes 5, 414 and 20, which are indicated as a single road in the stretch between Seneca Falls and Waterloo. Paralleling the meandering canal to the south and also running east-west is East Bayard Street, which turns into West Bayard Street in Seneca Falls and then turns into River Road when in Waterloo. 

The map legend indicates that a little over an inch and a half equals a half mile and about an inch equals a half kilometer. North points up.  

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More Information

  • Address: Women’s Rights National Historical Park 136 Fall St. 
  • Seneca Falls, New York 13148 
  • Phone Number 315-568-2991 
  • Website: www.nps.gov/wori 
  • You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter

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Seneca Falls and Beyond: 1775 to Today

Side two of the brochure begins with introductory text about what the women of Seneca Falls would do after the convention. To the right of this text is a collection of illustrations of these women. The rest of the brochure is a timeline of important milestones related to women’s rights. 

After this introductory text, this horizontal blue bands cross the width of the brochure and separate portions of the timeline. Within the bands are subject titles. Interspersed within the timeline are illustrations and photos. These timeline sections, divided by subject headings, are presented under their own sections. Associated images and their captions are also presented under their own sections.  

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Text: Seneca Falls and Beyond

“What are we next to do?” asked Elizabeth Cady Stanton after the 1848 convention. The women of Seneca Falls had challenged America to social revolution with a list of demands that touched every aspect of life. Fifty years after the convention, women saw progress in property rights, employment, education, divorce and custody laws, and social freedoms. By the early 1900s, a coalition of suffragists, temperance groups, progressive politicians, and social welfare organizations mustered a successful push for the vote.

Although the ballot was never the primary agent of social reform, as many had hoped, the suffrage movement expanded women’s influence in the political arena. Again the question, What next? 

Immediately after 1920 many women worked for reform through groups like the League of Women Voters and national political parties. Some asserted their rights on a personal level by attending college, taking jobs, adopting new clothing fashions, and creating professional organizations. Then as now, each woman sought her own definition of freedom.

In 1848 the Seneca County Courier warned that the convention’s resolutions were “of the kind called radical . . . Some will regard them with respect—others with disapprobation and contempt.” The story of the women’s rights movement is the story of ideas once controversial, now commonplace. The chronology below outlines the major events that changed the status quo for women in America. Which of our present efforts will contribute toward a future of equality? What are we next to do?

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The Women of Seneca Falls: Illustration Portrait Descriptions

On the right top side of the brochure are cut out images from photographs or illustrations of five women and one child, placed in close proximity to each other so that they look like they are within a single grouping. Some of the women look straight ahead, while others look off to the side. Each woman is described in more detail after the following text.

Caption: Left to right: Elizabeth Cady Stanton with her daughter Harriot, Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright, Mary Ann M’Clintock, and Jane Hunt. Text: After the convention, Hunt and her husband continued with various reform efforts. The M’Clintocks moved to Philadelphia in 1856. Wright and two M’Clintock daughters became active suffragists. Stanton, Wright, and Mott, with Lucy Stone, Abby Kelly Foster, and Susan B. Anthony, led the woman’s rights movement through its formative years. Eventually the movement was called women’s rights. Image credits: Library of Congress.

Description: Santon has a full, unlined face and is dressed in black with a white ruffled frill around her neck and a dark colored bonnet with white ruffled frills. Protruding through the front of the bonnet is her lightly colored wavy hair that covers her ears as it is pulled back. Her body and head are turned slightly to the right. Her gaze is in that same direction and she has a partial smile with closed lips. Her daughter Harriot is in her arms. Harriet is a chubby-cheeked baby with a black outfit trimmed with a white frill around the neck and middle section. Harriot’s outfit is short-sleeved and her bent arms and closed fists are close to her chest. Harriet’s gaze is towards us.

Lucretia Mott is pictured partially behind Stanton and the baby. She wears a light colored outfit with a high V-neck. Draped over her shoulders is a medium-colored soft cloak or wrap. Some faint lines show on her face around her cheeks and mouth. She has a white, see-through bonnet on her head, bowed at the chin. Underneath her bonnet is her jet black hair pulled back.

Mott’s sister, Martha Wright is next to and somewhat behind her. She has a jet-black outfit on, with a frilly white see-through bonnet bowed at the chin. Her pulled-back hair covers her ears. Her dark eyes gaze directly at us. She has a pale unlined face that shows little emotion.

Mary Ann M’Clintock is behind Wright. She looks directly at us with alert eyes. She wears a layered outfit that includes a white high V-neck blouse under a medium-colored coat. A simple white bonnet puffs upwards on top of her head with her hair protruding in the front. She has defined cheekbones and an otherwise unlined face.

Next and last is Jane Hunt placed to the front and side of M’Clintock. She is angled with her back facing the rest of the group. Her gaze is in the same direction she faces. Her left arm is bent upwards and her left hand rests at the side of her chin. She wears a dark voluminous dress with puffy sleeves and cloth-covered buttons running up the front. A white collar protrudes over the top of the dress at her neck. Her hair is pulled back behind her ears and is in a bun at the back. She wears no head covering.

Image credits: Library of Congress.

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Remember the Ladies: 1775 - 1840

  • 1775: American Revolution begins. Abigail Adams in 1776 admonishes husband John and other Revolutionary leaders to “remember the ladies” in forming the new government. 
  • 1784: Judith Sargent Murray writes essays endorsing women’s education. Murray’s “On the Equality of the Sexes” appears in Massachusetts Magazine in 1790. 
  • 1788: US Constitution is ratified. With decisions about voting qualifications left up to states, New Jersey women property owners have full franchise until 1807. Elsewhere women can vote in local elections. 
  • Early 1800s: Popular literature defines a new middle-class ideal: women dominate the “sphere” of home and family, with men viewed as leaders in politics and business. 
  • 1830s: American Anti-Slavery Society is founded in Philadelphia in 1833 by Quakers seeking immediate emancipation of slaves. AASS’s 1,600 auxiliaries gather over 400,000 signatures on antislavery petitions by 1838. As abolition cause escalates, lecturers like Sarah and Angelina Grimké promote women’s concerns simultaneously with abolition. Sarah draws criticism for her 1837 Letters on the Equality of the Sexes. AASS splits in 1839 over issue of women’s rights. 
  • 1840: Newlyweds Henry and Elizabeth Cady Stanton attend World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, where organizers refuse to seat women delegates. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott resolve to hold a convention devoted to women’s rights. 

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Portrait: Abigail Adams

At the far top left is Adam’s painted portrait.

Portrait caption: “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies,” writes Abigail Adams in 1776, “we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

Portrait description: In this color oval portrait, Adams is presented from the chest up in front of a dark background. She is angled slightly to her left and wears a goldish-brown outfit. Her head and gaze are toward us. White fabric attached to the low scoop neck of her brown dress covers the top area of her chest. Over this, a sheer lace wrap draped around her shoulders and either side of the front of her dress. She wears a fancy white bonnet with a thick white ribbon band tied into a bow at the front. Short curled bangs protrude from her bonnet and rest on the top half of her forehead. Her skin tone is pale and her cheeks are red with rouge. Her arched eyebrows appear a bit high above her eyes. Portrait Credit: Gilbert Stuart, National Gallery of Art

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A Call to Convention: 1848 - 1860

  • 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Quaker abolitionists Jane Hunt, Mary Ann M’Clintock, Lucretia Mott, and Martha Wright hold First Women’s Rights Convention; demand full and equal rights with men.
  • 1850 Boston women abolitionists, including Lucy Stone, organize national women’s rights convention in Worcester, Mass.; over 1,000 people attend. More conventions are held throughout the 1850s.
  • 1851 Stanton meets Quaker teacher Susan B. Anthony in Seneca Falls. They form an activist team and use temperance and abolition gatherings to address women’s issues. Stanton writes speeches and devises strategy, while Anthony lectures and circulates petitions.

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Photo: Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society

In the middle left is a black and white historic photo.

Photo Caption: Denied leadership positions in many other abolitionist groups, women sit on the executive committee of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. Lucretia and James Mott are at far right.

Photo description: Twelve members of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society sit (front roe) or stand (back roe) for this photo. Most face slightly left, with only those on the far right of the picture angled slightly to their right. There are five women and seven men. Each person’s gaze is in a slightly different direction and only two men in the back roe look directly at us. The men are dressed in black suits with white collared shirts and dark colored ties or ascots. The women wear dark dresses with white collars protruding at the top with the exception of Lucretia Mott who has a light-colored shawl over her shoulders and covering the front of her dress. She and only one other woman wear bonnets. Photo credit: Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College

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Portraits: Lucy Stone and Frederick Douglass

In the upper left middle are two photo portraits.

Photo caption: Lucy Stone (above left) champions reform by leading abolition and women’s suffrage efforts, and by keeping her maiden name after marrying. “We hold women to be justly entitled to all we claim for man,” writes Frederick Douglass (above right) soon after the 1848 convention. Two decades later Douglass breaks with Stanton over voting rights.

Photo descriptions: These two black and white photos are placed together with Douglass's photo slightly below and to the right of Stone’s photo. Stone’s photo has a gray circular haze around it, She wears a dark outfit showing vertical lines or plates. A white collar protrudes from the top. Her body is angled slightly left with her head angled slightly right. Her mouth is compressed into a line and her dark eyes are staring fixedly to her right.

Douglass wears a dark suit over a darker vest, with a black ascot tie obscuring much of the white, collared shirt underneath. His full head of hair is parted on his left. His eyes are looking slightly off to his left and his mouth looks compressed. His gaze is strong and direct.

Photo credits: Library of Congress

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War and Reconstruction: 1800 - 1872

  • 1860: Stanton and Anthony work successfully to amend the 1848 Married Women’s Property Act of New York. Revised law allows wives to hold property, keep earnings and inheritances, make contracts, sue in court, and share child custody. 
  • 1861–65: Civil War. Northern and Southern women take over jobs on farms and in factories, businesses, and government offices. Thousands of women work as nurses, opening profession to females. 
  • 1862: Morrill Act grants federal land to support coeducational colleges and universities in the West. Homestead Act grants free land to any “head of household,” including women. New York’s 1860 property law is repealed. 
  • 1863: After Emancipation Proclamation frees many slaves in Confederacy, Stanton and Anthony’s National Women’s Loyal League urges Congress to outlaw slavery completely. Mott and contemporaries turn over leadership to the rising generation. Younger women’s leaders anticipate that postwar expansion of civil rights will include female suffrage. Thirteenth Amendment outlaws slavery in 1865. 
  • 1867: First statewide women’s suffrage campaigns in Kansas and New York are defeated. 
  • 1869: Suffragists split over strategy after 14th Amendment specifies voting rights for “male citizens.” Stanton and Anthony form National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), which pushes for a women’s suffrage amendment. Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and others organize American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) to support voting rights first for black males, then women. Wyoming becomes first US territory to enact women’s suffrage. 

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Revolution: 1872

  • 1872: Anthony and colleagues test 14th and 15th amendments by casting votes in New York. Suffragists are arrested and fined. An 1875 US Supreme Court ruling upholds states’ right to deny women the vote. In 1876 Anthony and others crash US Centennial celebration in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, demanding women’s vote.

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Photo collage: "The Revolution" and Susan B. Anthony

Caption: “It has been said,” writes Stanton of Susan B. Anthony (right), “that I forged the thunderbolts and she fired them.” Beginning in 1868 they publish the short-lived Revolution, advocating “Equal Pay,” “Cold Water not Alcoholic Drinks,” and “a new Commercial and Financial Policy.”

Description: At the far right middle area of side two, a black and white historical photo portrait of Susan B. Anthony is placed in the right lower section of a photo of the first page of the newspaper “The Revolution.” Below the title at the top of the paper is the tagline: “Principle, Not Policy, Justice, Not Favors.” The newspaper is dated Wednesday, January 8th, 1868 and was published in New York. Anthony’s head is angled toward her left shoulder. She wears a soft black outfit with black cloth covered buttons down the front. Over this is a large white frilly lace tie that goes around her neck. It crisscrosses at the front where it is secured by a white brooch pin and then fans out in both directions down to the middle of her chest. She has dark hair pulled up in the back of her head. She wears small wire-rimmed glasses. Her face is clear and white and she has a wide thin mouth. She does not smile and her expression looks serious.

Photo credit for Anthony: Nebraska State Historical Society. Photo credit for Newspaper: Library of Congress

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Social Reform Movements: 1877 - 1902

  • 1877: Backed by the NWSA, a women’s suffrage amendment is first introduced in Congress but not voted on for 10 more years. As Reconstruction era draws to a close, Southern blacks see erosion of their new civil rights. 
  • 1879: Frances Willard becomes president of Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), established in 1874 to fight alcohol-related social ills. Willard strongly advocates women’s suffrage as a means to impose a moral influence on society. WCTU becomes nation’s largest women’s organization by the 18 eighties. 
  • 1881: Knights of Labor organizes housewives, domestics, factory workers, railroad workers, 65,000 women join. Knights disband by 1886 after losing national strike. Women’s organized labor recovers by the early 1900s to become an active force in suffragism. 
  • 1887: WCTU and suffragists present US Senate with petition supporting suffrage amendment. Amendment is defeated. 
  • 1889: Jane Addams and Ellen Starr establish Hull House in Chicago, nation’s first settlement house. In the following decades an army of educated female reformers—young single women, wives, mothers, and grandmothers—investigates labor conditions, starts settlement houses, promotes education and public health, agitates for liberalized birth control laws, and marches for suffrage. Increasingly, activists see vote as a mechanism to improve society. 
  • 1890: Wyoming is admitted as first women’s suffrage state. Colorado and Idaho follow; campaigns in these states are led by Carrie Chapman Catt. Utah enacts women’s suffrage in 1896 to ensure Mormon control. NWSA and AWSA merge into the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Stanton is president, succeeded by Anthony in 1892. Frances Willard sits on executive board. NAWSA strategy shifts from constitutional amendment to state referenda. 
  • 1902: Elizabeth Cady Stanton dies at age 86. Four years later Susan B. Anthony dies at 85. New generation of suffragists are solidly in power, arguing for vote on basis of female moral superiority rather than equality. NAWSA is led by Anna Howard Shaw and Carrie Chapman Catt. 

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Illustration: Temperance Societies

At the far left bottom half is a black and white illustration.

Illustration caption: Temperance societies, first popular in the 1830s, are among the earliest American women’s groups. The crusade makes women all the more aware of their legal defenselessness against a drunken husband and the need for property and divorce rights. After the Civil War the movement reemerges, its leaders promoting female suffrage as a means of social reform.

Illustration description: Women minister to drunken men outside of a saloon. At the upper right are the words “Jerry Class Saloon” on a sign over the saloon’s doorway. Signs affixed to the outside of the saloon read “Gin,” “Brandy Smash,” “Hot Drinks,” “Pepper Pot,” and “Old Rye.” Resting with his back against the open door frame facing us is the bartender. He wears an apron and a loose-fitting suit. He looks down with his hands in his pants pockets underneath the apron. At his feet, a man sits on the ground sideways to the bartender. Part of his back rests on the opposite side of the doorframe as the bartender. He wears a rumpled suit and is unshaven. His left leg is stretched out on the ground and his right leg is slightly bent. To both sides of this doorway is a window. Two men lean out from each window. Frowning, they look at the women.

Outside the saloon facing the men are four women forming a half circle around the doorway. Three are on their knees. The palms of their hands touch in front of their torsos in a prayer position. They wear dark dresses with large and long puffy black skirts. Their long hairstyles of curls with portions pulled back are underneath their decorative hats. The fourth woman stands. She holds a small opened book in front of her. Her eyes are closed.

Illustration credit: Library of Congress

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Photo Collage: Stanton and Anthony

In the middle bottom half is a photo of a three-person statue. On top of this is a cutout black and white historic photo of two women.

Caption: Statues in Seneca Falls depict Stanton and Anthony being introduced in 1851. By 1892 the two (inset photo; Anthony on left) have led the women’s rights movement for four decades and have published four volumes of A History of Woman Suffrage.

Statue description: The three-person statue is a portrayal of Amelia Bloomer introducing Susan B. Anthony to Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The statue is metal and bluish-black in color. Amelia wears a hat with a wide round brim of about three inches. She looks to her right at Anthony. To her left is Stanton. Bloomer’s arms are outstretched. Her right hand touches Anthony’s arm and her left hand touches Stanton’s forearm, which is in front of her. Anthony and Stanton are in the process of extending their right hands toward each other to shake hands. Anthony wears a bonnet and long dress. Stanton wears a dress that is mid-calf in length with loose-fitting pants underneath. Scarf ends dangles from the crook of each elbow in front of her. She holds a book in her left arm.

In the photo, Anthony and Stanton are older. On the right of the photo, Stanton is seated. Anthony stands next to Stanton on Stanton’s right. They hold the lower corners of a document they are both looking at. Stanton’s white shawl covers her shoulders and torso. She has a row of white ringlet-like curls circling the front portion of the top and sides of her head. The rest of her hair is pulled back in a bun. Anthony’s dress is black, with black ribbons around the cuffs and black ruffle trim on her cuffs and up the center of her dress. Her almost white hair is pulled back in a simple bun and she wears thin, wire-rimmed glasses.

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The Suffrage Bandwagon: 1910 - 1917

  • 1910: State of Washington gives women full franchise, inspiring a nationwide campaign that soon brings success in several western states. Progressive Party endorses women’s suffrage in 1912. Stanton’s daughter Harriot Stanton Blatch organizes first suffrage parades in New York City; solicits working women’s support through Women’s Trade Union League. 
  • 1911: Jane Addams, as vice-president of NAWSA, advocates immigrant women’s right to vote, countering the belief that voting rights should be restricted to native-born, white, educated citizens. 
  • 1913: Alice Paul and newest generation of suffragists revive demand for constitutional amendment. Paul, who worked in England with militant suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst, leads mass demonstrations, hunger strikes, and constant pressure on political party in power. Paul and several thousand marchers protest Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration in March 1913. Paul and others leave NAWSA and form National Woman’s Party in 1916. 
  • 1916: Margaret Sanger and her sister Ethel Byrne open first American birth control clinic in New York City. 
  • 1917: US enters World War I. Women take over jobs for men serving in armed forces. Women’s Bureau is formed; for next several decades it is the only federal agency dealing with women’s concerns. 

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Photo: Antisuffragists

At the far right bottom half is a historical photograph.

Photo caption: Antisuffragist arguments are based mainly on differences between the sexes. Pro-suffrage groups claim those differences make women better-qualified voters. Some antisuffrage groups are exposed as fronts for liquor interests.

Photo description: This black and white photo depicts five men in a row outside of the headquarters of the national association opposed to women’s suffrage. Their backs are towards us. They read postings on the windows. They all wear suits. Four have long suit overcoats and one has a hip-length suit coat. Each man wears a different type of hat including a bowler hat and a top hat.

Photo credit: Library of Congress

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The 19th Amendment: 1918 - Late 1920s

  • 1918: Women’s suffrage amendment is reintroduced by Jeanette Rankin (R-Montana), first woman elected to the US Congress; passes both houses by 1919. 
  • 1920: 19th Amendment, nicknamed the ”Susan B. Anthony Amendment,” is ratified, extending voting rights to women throughout the United States. National American Woman Suffrage Association becomes League of Women Voters, advocates social reforms and protective laws for working women. National Woman’s Party opposes protective laws and promotes full social equality. The terms ”feminism” and ”women’s rights” come into common usage, replacing terms like ”woman suffrage.” 
  • 1923: At the 75th anniversary of the Seneca Falls convention, Alice Paul proposes an Equal Rights Amendment to remedy inequalities that were not addressed in the 19th Amendment. 
  • Late 1920s: Many states continue to bar women from jury duty and public office. Widows succeed their husbands as governors of Texas and Wyoming. Middle-class women attend college and enter labor force. 
  • Anticipated “women’s vote” fails to materialize by end of decade. 

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Photo: Suffragists Elsie Hall and Katherine Morey

At the far bottom left is a black and white historical photo.

Photo caption: Suffragists Elsie Hill and Katherine Morey are jailed in Boston.

Photo description: Suffragists Elsie Hill and Katherine Morey are behind an open jail cell door with the number “12” on the wall above the door. They wear dark clothes and hats and are stringing an American Flag through the jail cell door.

Photo credit: Sewall-Belmont House and Museum

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A New Deal: 1933 - 1952

  • 1933: Frances Perkins is appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as first female Secretary of Labor. In the New Deal years, at urging of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Democratic women’s leader Molly Dewson, women gain positions in federal social service bureaus. Mary McLeod Bethune is director of the Negro Affairs Division of the National Youth Administration. 
  • 1936: Federal court rules birth control legal for its own sake, rather than solely for prevention of disease. 
  • 1941: US enters World War II. Millions of women are recruited for defense industry jobs in war years and become significant part of labor force. WAC and WAVE established as first women’s military corps. 
  • 1947: Many women leave labor force to get married and make way for returning soldiers. But by end of decade, numbers of working women are again on the increase. 
  • 1952: Democratic and Republican parties eliminate women’s divisions. 

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Photo: Railroad Brake Operator

At the bottom middle-left is a black and white historical photo.

Photo caption: Women like this railroad brake operator take men’s jobs for the duration of World War II, permanently changing the makeup of the workforce.

Photo description: Outside, a woman leans away from the side of a train. With her hand, she holds onto a metal bar that is one of several attached to the train and used as steps to climb to the top of the train car. Her left arm is outstretched and reaching upwards. She wears a boxy jacket, black gloves, and a dark hat.

Photo credit: Sewall-Belmont House and Museum

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The Feminine Mystique: 1955 - 1972

  • 1955: Civil Rights movement escalates in the South; Septima Clark and others lead sit-ins and demonstrations, providing strategies for future protests.
  • 1960: FDA approves birth control pills.
  • 1961: President’s Commission on the Status of Women is established, headed by Eleanor Roosevelt. Commission successfully pushes for passage in 1963 of Equal Pay Act, first federal law to require equal compensation for men and women in federal jobs.
  • 1963: Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique articulates dissatisfaction with limitations on women.
  • 1964: Civil Rights Act prohibits job discrimination on the basis of race or sex and establishes Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to address discrimination claims.
  • 1966: National Organization for Women, founded by Betty Friedan and others, promotes child care for working mothers, abortion rights, the Equal Rights Amendment, and “full participation in the mainstream of American society now.”
  • 1972: Equal Rights Amendment passes both houses and is signed by President Richard Nixon. Civil Rights Act bans sex discrimination in employment and education. Shirley Chisholm is first African American to run for president.

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All Rights and Privileges: 1973 - Today

  • 1973: In Roe v. Wade, US Supreme Court affirms right to first trimester abortions without state intervention. 
  • 1974: Ella Grasso of Connecticut is first woman governor elected in her own right. 
  • 1980: Women’s Rights National Historical Park is established Dec. 28. 
  • 1981: Sandra Day O’Connor is appointed first woman US Supreme Court justice. 
  • 1982: Deadline for ERA ratification expires three states short of adoption. 
  • 1984: Geraldine Ferraro is first woman from a major political party nominated as vice president. 
  • 1992: More women run for and are elected to public office than in any previous year in US history. 
  • 2009: Equal Pay Act signed. 
  • Today: The fight for equality is waged on many fronts: women are seeking political influence, better education, health reform, job equity, and legal reform. The demands echo those of the movement throughout its history. In 1848 Stanton, Mott, and others claimed on behalf of American women “all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens.” What would the reformers from Seneca Falls do today to contribute toward a future of equality? What will you do? 

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Protest Buttons

At the bottom far right is a photo of protest buttons.

Caption: Colorful and concise buttons express some of women’s concerns in the late 1900s.

Description: Arranged in two uneven columns are seven buttons with three on the left and four on the right. Buttons are described from top to bottom starting with the left column. All buttons are round with one noted exception.

  1. In black letters on a yellow background are the words “Uppity Women Unite”
  2. In white letters on a blue background are the words in all capital letters: “ERA Yes”
  3. In red letters on a white background around the bottom half circle of the button are the words: “Women’s Liberation.” On the button’s left in red is a graphic of a figure that looks like the statue of liberty with its raised arm. Instead of holding a torch, its hand is closed in a fist. We are looking down onto the fist and face of the statue. The fist is exaggerated and extra large compared to the statue’s head and pointed crown.
  4. In white letters on a green background is the number 59 and the symbol for “cents,” which reads “fifty-nine cents.”
  5. This is the only rectangular button in the group. On a light green background is the Venus gender symbol for a female, which is a circle above a cross. The symbol is blue with red trim around the perimeter and red within the hole of the circle. In light green, the words “Women’s Rights” are placed around the circle. In red, the word “Now” is written within the cross bar below the circle.
  6. On a light blue background in large, dark blue capital letters is the word “Now.” The three letters are placed tightly together and elongated and rounded to fit within the upper two-thirds of the circular button. In smaller words underneath is the organization’s full name: “National Organization for Women.”
  7. In blue letters on a white background are the words “Every Mother Is A Working Mother.”

Photo credit: Smithsonian Institution

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