March 8 is International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate women's economic, political and social achievements — and take stock of the work for women’s equality still to be done.
The celebration continues beyond today as March is Women’s History Month, and a great time to visit one of these sites marking important milestones in women’s history.
Seneca Falls, N.Y.: Women’s Rights National Historic Park
Maintained by the National Park Service, the Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, N.Y., commemorates the struggle to gain equal rights for women and pays tribute to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other women who organized and held the first Women’s Rights Convention at the town’s small Wesleyan Chapel on July 19 and 20, 1848.
In addition to an exhibit-filled visitor center, park activities include a self-guided audio tour, ranger programs and guided tours of historical properties around town, including the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Home and the Wesleyan Chapel.
“It’s one of my favorite spots,” said Karen O'Connor, a professor at American University in Washington, D.C., and founder of the school’s Women & Politics Institute. “It’s the founding home of the modern American women’s movement and you are actually walking in the footsteps of the women who set out a system of demands for women’s equality.”
Rochester, N.Y.: The Susan B. Anthony House
Although she died in 1906, 14 years before the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, Susan B. Anthony is best remembered as an American civil rights activist who campaigned tirelessly for women’s suffrage, giving speeches and inspiring followers with the still-much-quoted mantra: “Failure is Impossible.”
The Rochester, N.Y. house that once served as the campaign headquarters for the National Woman Suffrage Association and as Anthony’s home for 40 years is now a National Historic Landmark filled with items related to her life, including the doctor-bag-style alligator purse that became her trademark.
Washington, D.C.: Sewall-Belmont House
Located on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum became the home of the National Woman’s Party (NWP) in 1929 and for more than 60 years served as the strategic base from which to lobby for women’s political, social and economic equality.
“Today many of the important artifacts that contributed to the success of women getting the right to vote are there,” said O’Connor. “Look for suffrage banners, a desk that once belonged to Susan B. Anthony and the information-filled 3x5 cards early activists took with them when they visited house members and senators to lobby for suffrage.”
Richmond, Calif.: Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park
Established in 2000 and still somewhat of a work in progress (a visitor center will open late May 2012), the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park preserves and shares stories of the country’s home front response to World War II.
Eighteen million women worked in defense industries and in war-time support services and the many “Rosies” who toiled in the nation’s shipyards are honored at the Rosie the Riveter Memorial, a sculpture that is both inspired by and, at about 450 feet long, as long as one of the Victory ships the women built.
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