Friday, July 4, 2014

Getting In Touch With Women's Rights
In the Women's Rights National Historical Park, three YJI reporters pose with statues of early women's rights activists.

By Yelena Samofalova
Senior Reporter
SENECA FALLS, New York, U.S.A. – Lots of American women’s history is contained in the small town of Seneca Falls, New York. Visitors can see the Wesleyan Chapel, the National Women’s Hall of Fame and several other museums and sites.
As well as learning about the key events in 1848 entering on women’s suffrage, you can also see the houses of several important figures of this time period.
Everything is well preserved and the whole town is like a piece of history.
Plaques inside the Wesleyan Chapel explain
the history of the building and the fight for
women's rights.
The Wesleyan Chapel, which was built in 1843 as a Methodist Church, was the site of first Women’s Rights Convention on July 19 and 20, 1848. That was the meeting where the Declaration of Sentiments was read to a crowd of more than 300 reform-minded women and men.
The document outlined the demands for equality for women that established the struggle voting rights that continued for decades.
In this declaration, which played off of the 1776 American Declaration of Independence, organizers wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.”
The Womens Rights National Historical Park, which is part of the National Park Service, offers free entry to the chapel and to a visitor’s center and museum in the building next door.
A fun trademark of the museum is an outdoor wall with water pouring down it with the full Declaration of Sentiments engraved in the stone. The water pours down the wall from the top, making small curves around the engraved letters; good for artsy pictures or just playing with the water with your hands.
YJI reporters can't resist the water wall sculpture at the Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls. The Declaration of Sentiments is engraved on it. Above, the girls are, from left, Mary Majerus-Collins, Yelena Samofalova and Mugdha Gurram.

At the visitor’s center, people can learn an extensive history of early American feminism through creative signs and displays.
At the Women's Rights Historical Park, visitors
can try on various professions by putting their
faces behind the mural. Here, YJI's Mugdha
Gurram is a firefighter, Yelena Samofalova is a
surgeon and Mary Majerus-Collins is a park
There were clear globes with different jobs written on them, with separate ones for men and women.

The one for men was much bigger and with more options than the one for women, showing how many more choices they had in the past than women.

Other displays showed the really clear-cut gender roles that they had and how women continually got the worst end of the deal.

On the first floor, there were statues of the writers of the Declaration of Sentiments, including Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright, Jane Hunt, Elizabeth Cady Stanton as well as the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass and other male supporters.
These somewhat creepy statues stand in the lobby of the visitor center with statues of other people.
Three local historic homes of early American feminists – Stanton, Hunt and Mary Ann M’Clintock – are also part of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. Hunt’s house is not yet open to the public, but the other two are.
YJI reporters Mugdha Gurram and Yelena Samofalova outside the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y.
Seneca Falls also is home to the National Women’s Hall of Fame, located just down the street from the Wesleyan Chapel.
From 1856 to 1920, when women won voting rights through the 19th Amendment, there was growing support and participation in the feminist movement.
After the first Women’s Rights Convention, there were many other protests and writings demanding equal political rights for women.
This historic Wesleyan Chapel and the educational museum next door helped me see that women take many of the rights we have now for granted.

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