DAY #5: Controversy surrounding the Harriet Tubman House and proposed national park

Harriet Tubman quote on t-shirtWe didn’t expect to run into complications when visiting the Harriet Tubman House in Auburn New York, but it turned out to be interesting on a lot of levels, particularly the politics of U.S. President Obama’s visit to Seneca Falls in late August. When he stayed overnight in Auburn, a few miles away, he didn’t visit the Tubman site, the location of a proposed national park. A bill is pending in the U.S. Congress. The two-part article was featured in the New York History blog, and sorry that it has taken us so long to get it posted. It’s a great story. We enjoyed writing it, and the human interest associated with Tubman’s descendants in the Auburn area is worth the time you spend reading the piece. Here are the links:

Article #1: “The Politics of Harriet Tubman and Barack Obama.”

Article #2: “Harriet Tubman and the Projected National Park.”

National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY

National Women's Hall of Fame

A trip to Seneca Falls, New York isn’t complete without a visit to the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Each year there’s an induction ceremony that adds more women to the list of those who have made significant contributions. And just in case you believe that the work is over, just step up to the plate because there’s much more to do. This coming holiday season, LetsRockTheCradle will be advancing work already undertaken by others to build a NYS women’s heritage trail and a national Votes for Women trail. In a time when history and cultural heritage has slipped to the bottom of the list of priorities, we carry on. Watch for updates as the 2013 holiday season approaches. And check in with the National Women’s Hall of Fame. We’re on their email newsletter list so we don’t miss new updates. Take a look.

There are many ways to rock the “Cradle”

One way of rocking the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States is by descendants of the suffrage activists carrying on the work of the grandmothers and great grandmothers. This is precisely what has happened with the descendants of New York suffrage activist Edna Buckman Kearns. One hundred years ago she carried on a “Better Babies” campaign that is now very much in the mind of her granddaughter and two generations beyond her. Get the story here on LetsRockTheCradle. Check it out.

Articles about “Cradle” historic sites by Marguerite Kearns and Olivia Twine

We’re linking articles from New York History where the coverage of the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the U.S. is available. We’re also linking the PDFs in order to preserve them for the future. Here they are:

“Long Island’s Three Wagon Women,” by Marguerite Kearns, New York History blog, April 9, 2014. PDF Link.

“Susan B. Anthony in Rochester,” by Marguerite Kearns, New York History blog, February 2014. PDF link.

“Votes for Women Trail: Federal Legislation needed now,” by Marguerite Kearns and Olivia Twine, New York History blog, December 2013. Online link. 

“Dear Santa, Please bring us a women’s history tourism trail,” by Marguerite Kearns and Olivia Twine, New York History blog, December 2013. Online link. 

“‘It’s a Wonderful Life” in Seneca Falls, New York,” by Marguerite Kearns and Olivia Twine, New York History blog, December 2013. Online link.

“Harriet Tubman and the Projected National Park,” by Olivia Twine and Marguerite Kearns, New York History blog, November 2013. Online link.

“The Politics of Harriet Tubman and Barack Obama,” by Marguerite Kearns and Olivia Twine, New York History blog, November 2013. Online link. 

“Seneca Falls and will the Women’s Rights Trail Become a Reality? by Marguerite Kearns and Olivia Twine, New York History blog. October 2013. Online link.

“Fayetteville, NY: Gage Center,” by Olivia Twine and Marguerite Kearns, New York History blog, October 2013. Online link.

“In Johnstown, NY: Hopes for Votes for Women Funding,” by Olivia Twine and Marguerite Kearns, New York History blog, September 2013. Online link.

“A report from the Sojourner Truth Statue Unveiling,” by Olivia Twine, New York History blog, September 2013. Online link.

“An unlikely witness to suffrage movement in Rochester,” by Olivia Twine, New York History blog, September 2013. Online link.

“Spirit of 1776 Wagon” recognized by legislative resolution,” by Olivia Twine, New York History blog, July 2013. Online link.

“Suffrage and Global Citizenship,” by Olivia Twine, New York History blog, June 2013. Online link.

 

TWO VIDEOS FROM THE 2013 “CRADLE” BLOGGING TOUR OF THE U.S. WOMEN’S RIGHTS MOVEMENT

Sleeping giant awakening, slowly, in the Finger Lakes

459px-Amazing_Stories_v01n01_p062_The_Man_from_the_AtomA federal government feasibility study and report about women’s heritage trails, their importance and possibility of their creation is available on archive.org. It’s called the “Women’s Rights National History Trail Feasibility Study” and it’s an affirmative statement about the resources of women’s heritage sites already in existence. This document is as relevant as the day it was published in 2003. A heritage trail along the Eastern seaboard will never materialize, but in the past year progress has been made on a trail in the Finger Lakes region of New York focused on Votes for Women and the suffrage movement. Seneca Falls, NY  and the surrounding area is already attracting visitors from all over NY, the nation, and around the world. We’ll be tracking the development of the federal Votes for Women trail, as well as efforts to revive a state women’s heritage trail in New York. It’s a matter of setting an alarm clock to awake the sleeping giant.

From the Executive Summary:

The Omnibus Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1999 (P.L. 105-277) provided $100,000 for a trail study related to Women’s Rights National Historical Park. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter ID- Rochester NY) was the primary sponsor for this study and earlier had introduced legislation directing the National Park Service to study the feasibility of designating a women’s rights national historic trail from Boston, Massachusetts to Buffalo, New York. Although that bill was unsuccessful on its own, language in the Omnibus Appropriations Act accomplished that purpose.

The interdisciplinary study team worked with National Park Service historians and academic scholars to define the women’s rights movement and to understand it and its counter movements within the context of American history. Using the goals expressed in the Declaration of Sentiments adopted at
the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention as a framework, the study team defined women’s rights broadly to seek equality in the realms of politics –women’s suffrage; education– women’s access to higher education and professional schools; economics – women access to and rights within the workplace; religion – women’s roles and leadership in religious institutions; and society – reflected in efforts that were fostered by women to reform laws and customs on behalf of women.

Far from being a “special interest” confined to a corner of American history, the long pursuit of equality between the sexes is an immensely important theme in American history. The struggle for equal rights has altered the way the American labor force is structured and the way working people perceive their labor. It has changed the deeply private experiences of family life, parenthood, marriage and sexual behavior. It has altered our understanding of the purpose and justification of government, what American citizenship means, and how extensively democratic principles apply in our modern society.

To establish a context, the study team assembled and mapped a sample of women’s rights history properties throughout the northeastern United States, encompassing an area reaching from Maine to Virginia and including the District of Columbia. The women’s rights property sample should not be considered comprehensive and is by no means definitive. It is merely a reconnaissance-level survey used by the study team to develop a better understanding of the number and types of properties that still exist. In all, nearly 300 known women’s rights history properties were identified. The largest number of properties in the Northeast were in Massachusetts and New York. In Massachusetts, most of the known properties were clustered in the Greater Boston area. In New York, they were dispersed throughout the state with a cluster of properties located in a crescent shaped area roughly bounded by Rochester in the west, Syracuse in the east, and Seneca Falls and Waterloo in between. Based on existing information, a fairly dense corridor of women’s rights history properties is also found along the Eastern Seaboard, running from Boston to Washington, DC.

Image: Opening illustration for the story The Man from the Atom by Green Peyton Wertenbaker from the first issue (April 1926) of the pulp magazine Amazing Stories.

Questions raised from the 2013 Cradle Blogging Tour

– Will New York State hold a suffrage centennial in 2017? If so, who will move the initiative forward?

– Will there be a next step in the federal government’s creation of a Votes for Women trail in NYS’s “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the US?

– Is it likely that the NYS Legislature will approve funding to move to the next step on its initiative to create a statewide Women’s Heritage Trail?

– Where are the supporters of rocking the cradle so that New York State can benefit from much-needed economic development from cultural and heritage tourism associated with the 2017 and 2020 suffrage centennials?

As the federal government shutdown continues, the progress on the Votes for Women heritage trail has been put on hold. That project has reached the stakeholder criteria phase, and there’s no way of knowing if and when the next phase will be reached without federal funding. Movement this year on approval for the Harriet Tubman home in Auburn, NY is also on hold. The entire NYS Congressional delegation put its weight behind the idea of the Tubman home becoming a national park. We visited the Tubman home during the 2013 Cradle blogging tour and that story is in the pipeline. As for the prospect of state funding to move forward on a New York State women’s heritage trail, this possibility is also unknown. The state Capitol in Albany, NY is in between sessions and nothing will start moving until the opening of the NYS Legislature in January 2014. Friends and supporters –rub the sand out of your eyes and let’s get moving!

DAY #4: Continuing on to Seneca Falls, NY on the blogging tour!

Elizabeth Cady Stanton houseThe doors were locked this past week at the Elizabeth Cady Stanton home at the national park in Seneca Falls, New York. We barely got out of town before the federal shutdown was announced, but fortunately there was enough time to take in the visitors’ center, and experience the rebuilt Wesleyan Chapel, the Hunt and M’Clintock homes, where the organizers of the event met and set into motion an event that sparked a social revolution.

On the road we discovered rather quickly that daily blogging was ambitious. We completed Days #1, 2, and 3 before surrendering to the call of adventure and moving forward to experience as much as possible without keeping to the daily grind. We traveled to Johnstown, Fayetteville, Auburn, Rochester, and Farmington. No small accomplishment. And we’re catching up now that we’re back in the saddle of our so-called normal lives.

We won’t neglect bringing everyone up to date, eventually. Hang in there. Our blog entries are also available on the New York History site. So subscribe to Let’s Rock the Cradle, or check in with New York History. Here are some 2013 posts:

“Can the Women’s Rights Trail Become Reality?”  by Marguerite Kearns and Olivia Twine, New York History, October 8, 2013.

“Women’s Rights: The Matilda Joslyn Gage Home, by Olivia Twine and Marguerite Kearns, New York History, October 2, 2013.

In Johnstown, NY: “Hopes for Votes for Women Trail Funding,” by Olivia Twine and Marguerite Kearns, New York History, September 30, 2013.

“A Report from the Sojourner Truth Statue Unveiling,” by Olivia Twine, New York History, September 24, 2013.

“An unlikely witness to suffrage movement in Rochester,” New York History, by Olivia Twine. September 2013.

“‘Spirit of 1776 Wagon’ Recognized by Legislative Resolution,” by Olivia Twine, New York History, July 2, 2013.

“Suffrage and Global Citizenship,” by Olivia Twine. New York History. June 20, 2013.

Brimstone, Booze and the Ballot: Susan B. Anthony vs. Matilda Joslyn Gage,” by Olivia Twine, New York History. March 21, 2013.

 

DAY #3: Stopping by the home of Matilda Joslyn Gage

Susan B. Anthony's roomBy Olivia Twine and Marguerite Kearns

It’s helpful to know about the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center in advance or you might miss it when driving through Fayetteville, NY even though it’s strategically located on the main street.

Fayetteville is a small upstate town in the “cradle” of New York’s women’s rights movement, centrally located for those activists who worked with Gage and others while seeking radical social change in the years before and after the Civil War.

Though suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage is viewed by some as having been written out of history or that her contributions have been marginalized in the suffrage movement, this perspective may be undermined by such upcoming events as the one-woman show, “Mimi Kennedy Finds Matilda Joslyn Gage,” at the Everson Museum of Art’s Hosmer Auditorium in Syracuse, NY on October 3, 2013 at 7 p.m. The event is a fundraiser for the Girl Ambassador for Human Rights Program, the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation, and the Everson Museum of Art. Mimi Kennedy most recently appeared in Woody Allen’s film, “Midnight in Paris.”

By changing the balance of power in how suffrage leaders are viewed after more than 100 years, we inevitably run into the factions that have sprung up in this slice of women’s history. There are those for whom Susan B. Anthony is the star of the movement. Still others seek justice for Matilda Joslyn Gage to create what they believe is her rightful place in the sun. We’ve run into yet another contemporary interest group that’s opinionated about suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt and those who maintain she has crowded out Harriot Stanton Blatch in the memories of contemporary people.

Back in the days when Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), and Gage (1826-1898) were amicable, all three activists were in the forefront of the early struggle for women’s equality together. Over time their roles became more defined. Susan became the activist. Gage and Stanton were the theorists. They were close for several decades and then splits caused many ragged edges.

During the good times, Susan visited Matilda in Fayetteville and etched her name on a pane of glass in the upstairs bedroom window. The signature is real (see upper pane, middle segment). But as movement politics became complicated, numerous disagreements drove a wedge between the three who had previously been considered the “triumvirate” of the women’s rights movement.

The reasons for this aren’t overtly featured in the interpretative information at the Gage Center in Fayetteville, though someone could ask the appropriate questions and find answers from the docents. The tours are primarily self-guided. Once you step through the portal of the Gage Center at 210 East Genesee Street, the veil between the past and the present thins.

It seems as if suffrage leader, writer, and abolitionist Matilda Joslyn Gage’s spirit lingers in every room. It isn’t a stretch to imagine Matilda and Susan discussing movement strategy, or the joyful sounds of Matilda’s children playing, or the lingering voice of L. Frank Baum, Gage’s son-in-law who told Dorothy stories to his children and then went on to write the internationally acclaimed “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Baum and Maud, Matilda’s daughter, were married in the front parlor, and there are no ropes to prevent visitors from sitting on chairs or playing the parlor piano to join in with the celebration.

The Gage Center in Fayetteville is not only a historic home, it’s an interactive museum. You’re invited in, told to check your dogma at the door, and to think for yourself. A day’s visit isn’t a casual activity. This is a museum of ideas.

Ideas are what drew Stanton, Anthony, and Gage together in the early days of the movement and what later drove them apart. Ultimately it boiled down to a question of doing things “right” versus doing the “right” thing. Susan B. Anthony built a broad national coalition for the winning the franchise for women and set aside other issues Gage felt were extremely important, such as the separation of church and state. Matilda Joslyn Gage wouldn’t compromise when it came to standing firm about issues she insisted were important. Elizabeth Cady Stanton also challenged her old friends because of her views.

The friendships and political alliances, personal and social interests associated with Gage, Anthony, and Stanton comprise a web of complexities that have engaged scholars for decades. Gage didn’t want just to reform a social system. Her experience with Haudenosaunee culture convinced Gage that a matrilineal society not only worked, but that gender relationships could be balanced. Issues of race further drove some suffragists on the national level apart and others, together. The alliances and compromises associated with the suffrage movement bring to light the many difficulties and complexities of this 72-year nonviolent social revolution to advance the equality agenda.

Because the Gage Center lies in the “Cradle,” it’s essential to drive by the Gage home in Fayetteville and spend a few hours. Inside the building, visitors can almost hear Matilda Joslyn Gage whispering in their ears when they relax on couches and chairs within the walls of the home where Gage lived for 44 years. You can write on the walls or watch a film. Young people can play with toys, sit on chairs, read her books and scrapbooks, dress in Native American clothing, play with a dollhouse, and ponder provocative quotes posted on the wall.

When you’re invited to write a note to Matilda at the very desk where she worked, you sense that not only did she needle people in her own time, she pushes you to think about the implications of all your actions today. Gage was controversial, and she remains so in these times with her probing questions about the nature of freedom, the importance of going beyond reform to a radical restructuring of social systems, and much more.

“This should be a house of dialogue about social justice ideas, as it was during the time Gage lived here. There’s no reproduction wallpaper and furniture; no artifacts drive this story,” explains Sally Roesch Wagner, Ph.D., executive director of The Matilda Joslyn Gage Center. Wagner is a Gage scholar and an advocate of bringing Gage to the forefront of public awareness after years of what she believes is a lack of recognition for her contributions and distinct perspectives.

The Matilda Joslyn Gage house is an essential part of the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in America that is located within a cradle-like shape consisting of historic sites in a concentrated geographic area of the Finger Lakes region of New York — once a hotbed of free thought.

The Finger Lakes region has many attractions, including wineries, scenic views, golf, lake cruises, skiing, a Native American historic site (Ganondagan), and much more. The fact that the “Cradle” is easily accessible from the NYS Thruway makes it a natural destination for visitors. But in this time of economic challenges, historic sites are scrambling to keep their doors open. The Gage Center, for example, must rely on admission fees, fundraisers, donations, and the labor and enthusiasm of volunteers where burnout often enters the picture, a situation facing nonprofits all over the nation. This is why the Mimi Kennedy performance on October 3rd and fundraisers like it play such an important role in the Gage Center’s programming.

Preserving Susan B. Anthony’s signature etched into a pane of glass in a historic building in a small upstate New York town may not be a high priority for some who are acutely aware of a world struggling with enormous social and economic crises. Others insist that community and financial support of historic sites like this should be an essential element in the development of a geographic theme park that features key players of the suffrage movement, plus many grassroots activists who were involved in the movement, including African Americans (Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman) and other including Quakers who were involved in both abolition and women’s rights.

Gage, Stanton, and Anthony worked together, argued with each other, and carried the torch for women’s rights for decades in the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States. And there’s a growing audience of visitors and those from the US and around the world who are interested in learning more about these times and then applying the lessons learned to the personal and social challenges of today.

Awareness of and support for historic sites in Johnstown, Seneca Falls, Fayetteville, Rochester, Auburn and other destinations in the “Cradle” are viewed by many as a critical part of plans for bringing more visitors to New York in the ongoing efforts to link economic development to cultural and heritage tourism. Cultivating more interest in the “Cradle” is essential for the upcoming NYS suffrage centennial celebration in 2017 and the national suffrage centennial in 2020. About this, many agree.

Susan B. Anthony’s signature on the window pane in Matilda Joslyn Gage’s home is documentation of their friendship. Although there were strategic and theoretical differences between them toward the ends of their lives, the ultimate success of their efforts by the next generation would have been impossible without the dedicated mutual friendship of Stanton, Anthony, and Gage. For this, there is still much to celebrate. And promoting trips to the “Cradle” is just what “I Love New York” should be thinking about.

 

The Gage Center in Fayetteville, NY

By Olivia Twine and Marguerite Kearns

Window with Susan B. Anthony's signature

The upstairs second-floor window where the signature of Susan B. Anthony is etched in the glass. Photo: MK

It’s helpful to know about the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center in advance or you might miss it when driving through Fayetteville, NY even though it’s strategically located on the main street.

Fayetteville is a small upstate town in the “cradle” of New York’s women’s rights movement, centrally located for those activists who worked with Gage and others while seeking radical social change in the years before and after the Civil War.

Though suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage is viewed by some as having been written out of history or that her contributions have been marginalized in the suffrage movement, this perspective may be undermined by such upcoming events as the one-woman show, “Mimi Kennedy Finds Matilda Joslyn Gage,” at the Everson Museum of Art’s Hosmer Auditorium in Syracuse, NY on October 3, 2013 at 7 p.m. The event is a fundraiser for the Girl Ambassador for Human Rights Program, the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation, and the Everson Museum of Art. Mimi Kennedy most recently appeared in Woody Allen’s film, “Midnight in Paris.”

Gage Center in Fayetteville, side view.Gage Center in Fayetteville, NY, side view.

By changing the balance of power in how suffrage leaders are viewed after more than 100 years, we inevitably run into the factions that have sprung up in this slice of women’s history. There are those for whom Susan B. Anthony is the star of the movement. Still others seek justice for Matilda Joslyn Gage to create what they believe is her rightful place in the sun. We’ve run into yet another contemporary interest group that’s opinionated about suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt and those who maintain she has crowded out Harriot Stanton Blatch in the memories of contemporary people.

Back in the days when Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), and Gage (1826-1898) were amicable, all three activists were in the forefront of the early struggle for women’s equality together. Over time their roles became more defined. Susan became the activist. Gage and Stanton were the theorists. They were close for several decades and then splits caused many ragged edges.

During the good times, Susan visited Matilda in Fayetteville and etched her name on a pane of glass in the upstairs bedroom window. The signature is real (see upper pane, middle segment). But as movement politics became complicated, numerous disagreements drove a wedge between the three who had previously been considered the “triumvirate” of the women’s rights movement.

The reasons for this aren’t overtly featured in the interpretative information at the Gage Center in Fayetteville, though someone could ask the appropriate questions and find answers from the docents. The tours are primarily self-guided. Once you step through the portal of the Gage Center at 210 East Genesee Street, the veil between the past and the present thins.

It seems as if suffrage leader, writer, and abolitionist Matilda Joslyn Gage’s spirit lingers in every room. It isn’t a stretch to imagine Matilda and Susan discussing movement strategy, or the joyful sounds of Matilda’s children playing, or the lingering voice of L. Frank Baum, Gage’s son-in-law who told Dorothy stories to his children and then went on to write the internationally acclaimed “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Baum and Maud, Matilda’s daughter, were married in the front parlor, and there are no ropes to prevent visitors from sitting on chairs or playing the parlor piano to join in with the celebration.

The Gage Center in Fayetteville is not only a historic home, it’s an interactive museum. You’re invited in, told to check your dogma at the door, and to think for yourself. A day’s visit isn’t a casual activity. This is a museum of ideas.

Ideas are what drew Stanton, Anthony, and Gage together in the early days of the movement and what later drove them apart. Ultimately it boiled down to a question of doing things “right” versus doing the “right” thing. Susan B. Anthony built a broad national coalition for the winning the franchise for women and set aside other issues Gage felt were extremely important, such as the separation of church and state. Matilda Joslyn Gage wouldn’t compromise when it came to standing firm about issues she insisted were important. Elizabeth Cady Stanton also challenged her old friends because of her views.

The friendships and political alliances, personal and social interests associated with Gage, Anthony, and Stanton comprise a web of complexities that have engaged scholars for decades. Gage didn’t want just to reform a social system. Her experience with Haudenosaunee culture convinced Gage that a matrilineal society not only worked, but that gender relationships could be balanced. Issues of race further drove some suffragists on the national level apart and others, together. The alliances and compromises associated with the suffrage movement bring to light the many difficulties and complexities of this 72-year nonviolent social revolution to advance the equality agenda.

Because the Gage Center lies in the “Cradle,” it’s essential to drive by the Gage home in Fayetteville and spend a few hours. Inside the building, visitors can almost hear Matilda Joslyn Gage whispering in their ears when they relax on couches and chairs within the walls of the home where Gage lived for 44 years. You can write on the walls or watch a film. Young people can play with toys, sit on chairs, read her books and scrapbooks, dress in Native American clothing, play with a dollhouse, and ponder provocative quotes posted on the wall.

Matilda Joslyn Gage's writing desk

Matilda Joslyn Gage’s writing desk at the Gage Center.

When you’re invited to write a note to Matilda at the very desk where she worked, you sense that not only did she needle people in her own time, she pushes you to think about the implications of all your actions today. Gage was controversial, and she remains so in these times with her probing questions about the nature of freedom, the importance of going beyond reform to a radical restructuring of social systems, and much more.

“This should be a house of dialogue about social justice ideas, as it was during the time Gage lived here. There’s no reproduction wallpaper and furniture; no artifacts drive this story,” explains Sally Roesch Wagner, Ph.D., executive director of The Matilda Joslyn Gage Center. Wagner is a Gage scholar and an advocate of bringing Gage to the forefront of public awareness after years of what she believes is a lack of recognition for her contributions and distinct perspectives.

The Matilda Joslyn Gage house is an essential part of the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in America that is located within a cradle-like shape consisting of historic sites in a concentrated geographic area of the Finger Lakes region of New York — once a hotbed of free thought.

The Finger Lakes region has many attractions, including wineries, scenic views, golf, lake cruises, skiing, a Native American historic site (Ganondagan), and much more. The fact that the “Cradle” is easily accessible from the NYS Thruway makes it a natural destination for visitors. But in this time of economic challenges, historic sites are scrambling to keep their doors open. The Gage Center, for example, must rely on admission fees, fundraisers, donations, and the labor and enthusiasm of volunteers where burnout often enters the picture, a situation facing nonprofits all over the nation. This is why the Mimi Kennedy performance on October 3rd and fundraisers like it play such an important role in the Gage Center’s programming.

Preserving Susan B. Anthony’s signature etched into a pane of glass in a historic building in a small upstate New York town may not be a high priority for some who are acutely aware of a world struggling with enormous social and economic crises. Others insist that community and financial support of historic sites like this should be an essential element in the development of a geographic theme park that features key players of the suffrage movement, plus many grassroots activists who were involved in the movement, including African Americans (Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman) and other including Quakers who were involved in both abolition and women’s rights.

Gage, Stanton, and Anthony worked together, argued with each other, and carried the torch for women’s rights for decades in the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States. And there’s a growing audience of visitors and those from the US and around the world who are interested in learning more about these times and then applying the lessons learned to the personal and social challenges of today.

Awareness of and support for historic sites in Johnstown, Seneca Falls, Fayetteville, Rochester, Auburn and other destinations in the “Cradle” are viewed by many as a critical part of plans for bringing more visitors to New York in the ongoing efforts to link economic development to cultural and heritage tourism. Cultivating more interest in the “Cradle” is essential for the upcoming NYS suffrage centennial celebration in 2017 and the national suffrage centennial in 2020. About this, many agree.

Susan B. Anthony’s signature on the window pane in Matilda Joslyn Gage’s home is documentation of their friendship. Although there were strategic and theoretical differences between them toward the ends of their lives, the ultimate success of their efforts by the next generation would have been impossible without the dedicated mutual friendship of Stanton, Anthony, and Gage. For this, there is still much to celebrate. And promoting trips to the “Cradle” is just what “I Love New York” should be thinking about.