Seneca Falls: Feminist History Tour

by Kim Gandy, Executive Vice President


Susan B. Anthony House

A member told me recently that both her mother and her daughter will join her in Rochester this July for the NOW Women's Rights Convention and Vision Summit.  And all three of them will be staying a couple of extra days to take this tour -- a pilgrimage perhaps -- to the places our foremothers bravely took their stand for women's rights in July 1848, exactly 150 years ago.  Already involved in the movement to abolish slavery, these women expanded their activism to include dignity and respect, and most important, legal rights, for all women.

 We'll see the homes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, where these two friends plotted the first wave of a movement that would span the next 72 years -- until women won the right to vote in 1920.  At the M'Clintock house, open only during this celebration week, we will sense the energy and commitment that drove a small group of visionary women to draft their Declaration of Sentiments there, exposing themselves and their allies to endless scorn and ridicule.  And we will re-live the stirring presentation of that Declaration in the Wesleyan Chapel, where it was delivered amid shouts of support and murmurs of derision.

 We will have ample time to take in the beauty and history of the Women's Rights Historical Park and the National Women's Hall of Fame. A special highlight of the trip will be Tuesday afternoon when we join hundreds of supporters from throughout the region for a women's right rally featuring nationally known feminist speakers and a tribute to the late Hon. Bella Abzug, who will surely be with us in spirit.

 In addition to paying our respects at the graves of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, both a suffragist and an abolitionist, we will journey to the home of Harriet Tubman, operator of an underground network that ferried hundreds of enslaved people to freedom.  There will also be an opportunity to visit a special new exhibit at the Urban Cultural Park on the influence of Iroquois women on the women's rights movement (sponsored by the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Foundation), and see the Suffrage Print Shop, a working turn-of-the-century press where Amelia Bloomer published the suffrage newspaper The Lily.

 We'll tour the local Courthouse in Canandaigua, where Susan B. Anthony and others were arrested and tried for the crime of voting, and travel to Ganondagan -- the final resting place of the woman who brokered peace among five warring nations, thus founding the Iroquois Confederacy and beginning their matrilineal form of governance.  Family rights pass through the women, and the clans are headed by a Clan Mother.  Leaders keep their power only so long as the women deem them competent.

 In addition to enjoying inspiration from our foremothers and the camaraderie of traveling with like-minded feminists, we will have several pleasant diversions.  We will enjoy a picnic at the Women's Rights Historical Park, a catered box lunch in the shaded yard of the Harriet Tubman House, and an elegant dinner on Tuesday evening at Balmoral Castle.

 Throughout the tour, you will travel in an air-conditioned coach (yes, of course there's a bathroom) accompanied by a professional guide in addition to the staff and curators at the various sites.  There are two timing options, each departing from and returning to the Four Points Sheraton Hotel in Rochester.  The first tour begins early on Monday, July 14 and ends late on Tuesday evening when we return to Rochester after the castle dinner.  The second tour will accommodate those attending the State Coordinators' caucus on Monday.  It covers the same sights, but begins Tuesday morning and ends early Wednesday evening
 We will get the second group back to Rochester on Wednesday in time to attend "Take Up The Song," a celebration of women's rights in words and music (tickets optional).  You may also wish to stay on in the area for Celebrate 98, another series of celebratory events that begin on Thursday the 16th and continue through Sunday the 19th.

 The $195 tour cost does not include accommodations, but the Four Points Sheraton has agreed to extend the $91 conference rate (single through quad) through Wednesday.  Be sure to tell them you are with the NOW Conference.  Availability of seats is strictly limited, as many of the sites can accommodate only a few visitors at a time. There are no activities specifically for children, but young people age 8 and up are welcome to participate.  For more information on this historic tour or to purchase your seats, call the NOW office at (202) 331-0066 x728, or use your credit card on our secured website at

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