This year, Professor of Women’s Studies Betty Bayer was nominated and elected to the Board of the Friends of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park (WRNHP). As such, she will help host an information table at the official celebration of the 165th anniversary of the first Women’s Rights Convention on Friday, July 19 and Saturday, July 20.
The Friends of Women’s Rights National Historical Park, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that supports the mission of the park to promote awareness of the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls and its significance. The group works to inspire people to support the park as the birthplace of Women’s Rights in America and raises funds for park initiatives, including the preservation of its historical sites and educational programming.
“We are also involved in developing the ‘Votes for Women’ Women’s History Trail, in collaboration with the park, and support Carolyn Maloney’s Women’s History Project Act,” explains Bayer.
The Women’s History Project Act was introduced by Representative Louise Slaughter (NY-28) and then-Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton on July 19, 2007. President Barack Obama signed the act and authorized two related grants in 2009. The legislation finds that there is opportunity for the WRNHP to work in partnership with historically and thematically-related properties in the State of New York to tell the story of the 72-year fight for women’s suffrage in the United States. Among the many components of the bill, it calls for the establishment and designation of a vehicular “Votes for Women’s History Trail Route;” the establishment of the National Women’s History Project National Registry that will make efforts to include women’s rights history properties on the National Register of Historic Places; and the establishment of the National Women’s History Project Partnerships Network.
Last fall, first-year students in Bayer’s WMST 100 course explored the database on historic sites in upstate New York to research potential Votes for Women’s History Trail sites. They proposed a number of Geneva sites. Among these were the Geneva Women’s Political Equality Club and the Smith Opera House, where a suffrage convention was held and where Elizabeth Smith Miller and her daughter hosted feminist/suffrage speakers, including Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Pankhursts.
This year’s celebration begins on Friday, July 19, with exhibits and discussions held all day at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park Visitor Center. On Saturday, July 20, Convention Day includes a procession at 9:30 a.m., from Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s house (32 Washington St.) to Wesleyan Chapel. Once at the chapel, there will be the reading of the Declaration of Sentiments. A variety of educational programs take place throughout the day. The full schedule is online.
As a member of The American Association of University Women (AAUW) Women’s Heritage Trail Committee, Bayer attended the Park’s Foundation for Planning Workshop last summer. The workshop was a planning session following on the heels of a feasibility study regarding the Trail and was attended by consultants from outside of New York State, including from the AAUW Women’s Heritage Trail Committee and representatives of the Park and Friends of the Park.
Serving the Colleges in the Women’s Studies Program, Bayer teaches courses on the body politic, psychology of women, peace and ecofeminism, and core courses such as “Introduction to Women’s Studies” and “Feminist Theory.” Recognized for her outstanding teaching ability, Bayer received the Colleges’ prestigious Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award in 2004 and the Community Service Award in 2009. She has served as the chair of the Women Studies Program since 2001 and directed the Fisher Center for the Study of Women and Men from 2002 to 2009. Bayer earned her Ph.D., M.A. and B.A. in psychology from Carleton University.
Her recent publications include “Enchantment in an age of occupy” (2012, Women’s Studies Quarterly), and two essays forthcoming on critical history and theory of feminism and on spirituality. She is also currently working on a book tentatively titled “Revelation or Revolution? Cognitive Dissonance and Persistent Longing in an Age Psychological.”