On the morning of July 19, 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton stood before an assembly of women and read the Declaration of Sentiments in the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, N.Y. On Saturday, Oct. 18, the public is invited to speak those same momentous words in that same historical space. Assistant Professor of Media and Society Leah Shafer and students Molly Naef ’16, Julia Yenco ’16 and Amber Williams ’17 will be creating a multi-person recording of the Declaration of Sentiments as part of the 2014 Seneca Falls Dialogues (SFD) Conference.
“All ages and genders are welcome to join us as we re-enact history and speak the words that are as urgent today as they were 166 years ago,” Shafer says.
Anyone who wishes to may visit the Wesleyan Chapel at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park — from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., 11 to 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m. — to recite lines from the Declaration of Sentiments in the very spot where Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Frederick Douglass and more than 300 others gathered to speak and ratify the foundational document of woman suffrage in the United States. The recitations will be recorded and participants will have their photos taken while standing at the podium in the Chapel.
The initiative expands upon a project Shafer and Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture Christine Chin started four years ago, when they filmed attendees of the SFD Conference reciting lines from the Declaration of Sentiments. Shafer later edited these clips into an experimental documentary and presented on and screened the documentary at the National Women’s Rights Historical Park during the next conference, in 2012.
Shafer notes several people expressed the desire to see the original project move forward with a more complete recording of the Declaration, perhaps in the historic Wesleyan Chapel- the location of the original Women’s Rights conference. The many-voiced recitation of the Declaration of Sentiments that Shafer, Naef, Yenco and Williams will produce from Saturday’s recordings and photos of participants will be featured on the Women’s Rights National Historical Park website during Women’s History Month, March 2015.