The Women’s Rights National Historical Park
Located in Seneca Falls, the Women’s Rights National Historical Park offers the public at large an opportunity to trace the heritage and legacy associated with the women suffrage movement in a beautiful and spacious interactive environment. The Park includes several sites, including: the Wesleyan Chapel, the Declaration of Sentiments Waterwall, the Visitor Center, the Stanton House, the M’Clintock House and the Hunt House.
The Park is open during designated hours and is always committed to making your visit an educational life experience. Special scheduled, guided tours are available for your class or family at one of America’s most important historical sites.
Click here to visit the Park’s web site.
When the village of Seneca Falls moved to new offices in 1987, the Board of Trustees donated this building to the National Park Service for use as a Visitor Center. Originally Adrian H. Boyce’s car dealership, erected in 1916, it featured the modern steel skeleton construction and glass curtain front wall typical of new, unconventional architecture of the period. In 1927, the village of Seneca Falls acquired it, remodeling the interior into municipal offices. Now exhibits, statues, video interactives, an orientation film, and ranger-led programs give visitors from around the world an opportunity to learn about the conditions leading to the 1848 First Women’s Rights Convention and its aftermath.
In 1848, the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Seneca Falls served as a haven for radical speakers. Abolitionists, temperance workers, and women’s rights activists, among others, spoke from its podium. On July 19 and 20, 1848, the “Great Light House of Seneca Falls” housed the First Women’s Rights Convention ever held in the United States, the beginning of the formal struggle of U.S. women for their equal rights. When the Convention was over, 100 men and women had signed a manifesto for change: The Declaration of Sentiments.
The Stanton House
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a principal organizer of the First Women’s Rights Convention, lived in Seneca Falls from 1847 to 1862. She, her husband Henry B. Stanton, and their seven children kept this house alive with activity. “Advanced thinkers,” including Frederick Douglass, Horace Greeley, and Susan B. Anthony, visited the family to discuss and plot reforms.
Only one of the two wings that harbored family and visitors remains; it is restored to its 1848 appearance. Ranger-led tours illustrate the close connection between Stanton’s women’s rights advocacy and her child-rearing and domestic management practices, demonstrating that the women’s rights movement came from the personal experiences of thoughtful women.
The Hunt House
A women’s rights convention was first proposed at Jane and Richard Hunt’s Waterloo home, built in 1829. On July 9, 1848, Jane Hunt invited several friends to tea: Lucretia Mott, Quaker minister and abolitionist; Martha Wright, her sister; Mary Ann M’Clintock, a Waterloo Progressive Quaker; and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Their discussion of women’s inferior economic, social, religious and political position moved them to call a public convention to discuss their concerns. They placed advertisements in local and abolitionist papers for a meeting ten days later.
The M’Clintock House
On July 16, 1848, some of the organizers of the First Women’s Rights Convention met at Mary Ann and Thomas M’Clintock’s home in Waterloo to draft a document listing women’s social and legal disadvantages. They called this their Declaration of Sentiments, and based it on the Declaration of Independence, amending it to read, “all men and women are created equal.”
Fifteen grievances demonstrated man’s “establishment of an absolute tyranny” over woman, and called for action to establish women’s legal and social equality with men. The Declaration of Sentiments formed the basis of discussion at the First Women’s Rights Convention, and its amended form, signed by 100 participants, was the first publshed statement calling for equality for women in all areas of life.