Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York

This small historic site and museum in New York’s Finger Lakes region commemorates the birthplace of American feminism.

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In 1848, a large group of Quaker women gathered at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York for a three day convention aimed at discussing women’s rights. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass was also in attendance and spoke at the convention. Only women were invited on the first day, but both men and women could attend the following days.

What resulted was the Declaration of Sentiments, a document advancing the cause of greater social, political, and religious rights for women. It was signed by 68 women and 32 men in attendance. It was considered quite radical at the time, and called for women’s suffrage as well as legal reforms making wives more independent from their husbands (in English common law, the practice of coverture meant a woman’s legal rights were subsumed by her husband).

This was the first of several early women’s rights conventions, and it is considered a landmark of First Wave Feminism, which focused on winning legal equality with men, particularly the right to vote. Today, the site is commemorated as Women’s Rights National Historical Park. The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel has been rebuilt on the foundation of the old, which had deteriorated over the past 160 years. A small but informative museum exploring the history of women’s activism in the United States is also on site.

Women’s Rights National Historical Park, at 136 Fall Street in Seneca Falls, New York, was established in 1980. It is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00pm, but closed on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Entrance to the museum is free. There is a small parking lot behind the visitor’s center, as well as street parking. Call (315) 568-2991 for more information.

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Woodlawn Diner Blasdell, New York

Woodlawn Diner, at Blasdell, New York, replaced an older diner at that location. It was possibly built on site in 1952, conveniently located down the street from several factories. Check out that old tableside juke box: “Hit Tunes” for 10 cents, three for a quarter. This place is definitely a greasy spoon.

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Father Divine: The Man Who Called Himself God

At a time when scarcity affected millions, one eccentric preacher offered men and women a taste of the American dream.

During the 1930s, a man appeared in America offering salvation through the simple act of eating. “Father Divine”, professing himself to be God incarnate, urged his followers to transcend race and poverty through the power of positive thinking. His message crossed racial lines because he appealed to shared traditions in American culture. This eccentric preacher offered Americans, both black and white, rich and poor, hope that racial unity and personal perfection could be achieved through the union of religion and the dinner table.

Father Divine began life as George Baker, Jr. in the border state of Maryland less than fifteen years after the Civil War. His mother, Nancy, had been born a slave in the 1840s. Two Catholic masters owned her over the course of her life, Lemuel Clemens and Henry B. Waring. Both required that she attend the Catholic churches they had erected on their respective properties.

In 1864, when Maryland outlawed slavery, Nancy went into service as a maid and already had two daughters by unknown persons. She married a man named George Baker in the 1870s and the two moved into a ghetto outside of Rockville, Maryland known as ‘Monkey Run.’ George Baker, Jr. was born shortly after, in May 1879.[1] Nancy and her family attended Rockville’s Jerusalem Methodist Church, a separatist branch, where, according to historian Jill Watts, “inevitably, the intense spirituality and religious dedication of the African-American community left a deep impression on George.”[2]

His mother died when he was a young man. She was five feet tall and weighed four hundred and eighty pounds. A coffin had to be built inside their house and could only be removed after the doorway had been hastily expanded. Historian R. Marie Griffith theorized that Nancy’s extreme size, acquired after moving to Monkey Run, was a response to the oppressive conditions of slavery she had experienced as a young woman.

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Sorrow of Forgotten Pride

Sorrow of Forgotten Pride
The Haggerty Lion in Oakwood Cemetery, 940 Comstock Avenue, next to Syracuse University, in Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York. Designed by Thomas Haggerty for his brother, Michael (1960-1974), this bronze lion is a National Smithsonian registered sculptural landmark and a favorite destination for visitors to Oakwood Cemetery. The sculpture was placed here in 1982.

Oakwood Cemetery was designed by landscape architect Howard Daniels and opened in 1859. It is a secular Victorian “rural” or “garden” style cemetery where over 60,000 people are interred in 160 wooded acres.

Cochecton General Store

Cochecton General Store
Cochecton is a town Sullivan County, New York, along the Delaware River at the Pennsylvania border. It is part of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River area, which is managed by the National Park Service. Built in 1860, Reilly’s Store was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. It reopened in 2002, but has once again closed. There are less people living in Cochecton today than when the store first opened 159 years ago.

Physician Heal Thyself

Physician Heal Thyself
Memorial to Charles Donley Miller (1895-1947) in Brookside Cemetery, at Watertown Center Loop and Brookside Drive, Watertown, Jefferson County, New York. This unique monument features a caduceus, the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology and used to symbolize commerce. It’s also sometimes incorrectly used to represent the medical trade, particularly ironic in this instance because the inscription around the pedestal reads: “homeopathic physician.”