Making the most of the Colleges’ location within an historic region of upstate N.Y., a group of about 20 students spent a day in October visiting a number of notable sites relating to the women’s rights movement in the neighboring towns of Seneca Falls, Waterloo and Auburn. Organized by the Colleges English Department and the Office of Intercultural Affairs (ICA), the roughly six-hour trip consisted of visits to the Women’s Rights National Historic Museum, the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, the M’Clintock House, the Harriet Tubman House, and the Seward House.
“I found the entire trip very interesting and loved the way it helped me to visualize these historical events that we all know about. This trip helped me to better imagine the people who were involved,” says Kim Pinto ’12. “All in all it was a great day.”
The group first stopped at the Women’s Rights National Historic Museum in Seneca Falls, where they were provided with a brief history of the Women’s Rights Movement and its connection to this area. Located directly beside the museum is the Wesleyan Chapel, the site of the First Women’s Rights Convention (currently being refurnished for preservation). The convention drew in a crowd of 300 people, many of whom put forth great effort in the fights for women’s rights and abolition, and subsequently resulted in the drafting of the historical Declaration of Sentiments. The Declaration in total is chiseled along with the names of its signers on the impressive “water wall” at the museum.
The trip progressed to the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House which was the home of Stanton and her family from 1847 to 1862, also located in Seneca Falls. A two-story home that housed a family of 9, the structure helped paint a picture of the life of one of the United States’ most well-known intellectuals of the 19th century. Taking pictures and asking frequent questions of the tour guides, the group of young scholars showed an enthusiastic response to the information provided at the house.
This pattern continued as they moved on to the M’Clintock house in Waterloo, which was the home of Quaker activists Thomas and Mary Ann M’Clintock. This was the exact site at which the Declaration of Sentiments was drafted at a planning session for the first Women’s Rights Convention. The building also served as a stop on the Underground Railroad.
In Auburn, the Seward House, which was home of William H. Seward, highly-regarded abolitionist and Secretary of State under both Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, was filled with a breathtaking amount of original furniture, art, home furnishings, and documents from Seward’s life. The HWS students were provided with an in-depth private tour of the house that highlighted both the importance of Seward’s life and historical information regarding the period. The Harriet Tubman House, also located in Auburn, was also filled with original furnishings, recreated pieces and loads of information in the forms of signs, pictures and plaques.
Returning to HWS, the group was left with both a greater understanding and a greater appreciation for the social activism of the day as well as a small slice of New York State history.