National Park Getaway: Women's Rights National Historical Park

By Patrick Stenshorn, Park Ranger, Women's Rights National Historical Park

I thought that the chief thing to be done in order to equal boys was to be learned and courageous. So I decided to study Greek and learn to manage a horse. Elizabeth Cady Stanton

family standing at an information desk

NPS Photo

Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s fight for equality did not stop with her mastery of Greek or equestrian abilities. In 1848, she organized the first Women’s Rights Convention, igniting the largest social revolution in history–the women’s rights movement. It is here in Seneca Falls, NY, at Women’s Rights National Historical Park, that you can stand in the same spot Elizabeth Cady Stanton stood to address the convention attendees, hear the stories of this suffragist and civil rights activist, and learn about the continuing struggle for equality.

Located in the heart of New York State’s Finger Lakes Region, Women’s Rights National Historical Park’s visitor center is the perfect spot to orient yourself to the park and the surrounding area. “Meet” reformers Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Frederick Douglass, and others in the “First Wave” statue exhibit. Immerse yourself in women’s struggles for equality from the 19th century to modern day in the second floor exhibits. You can also stand at the podium believed to be the original one used at the 1848 convention, see the casting of Stanton’s and Susan B. Anthony’s handshake, and learn about the 72-year struggle for women’s suffrage.

After leaving the visitor center, take a guided tour of the Wesleyan Chapel, where the convention was held. Stand within its brick walls and discover the issues that sparked the formal women’s rights movement. Just outside is the Water Wall, a cascading monument to the Declaration of Sentiments, described by Frederick Douglass as articulating the "grand movement for attaining the civil, social, political, and religious rights of women.”

benches in a chapel
Elizabeth Vaillancourt

The Wesleyan Chapel provides an ideal setting for visitors to reflect on the courageous call for equal rights at the first Women's Rights Convention.

Walk with a ranger to the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House along the town’s quaint main street and beautiful scenery overlooking the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. Go past the statuary of Stanton and Susan B. Anthony against the backdrop of the canal and the Trinity Church–the most photographed vista in the Finger Lakes. Self-described as a “caged lioness,” Stanton had seven children running around as she and Anthony tried to write speeches and petitions in the parlor and learn of Stanton’s struggle to balance family and women’s rights work. Be sure to also visit the home of MaryAnn and Thomas M’Clintock. Walk through the parlor, as it looked in 1848, where the Declaration of Sentiments was drafted and learn of the important role the family played in helping escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad reach freedom.

The park hosts a variety of events each year, such as “Convention Days,” a celebration of the first Women’s Rights Convention. This year, on November 12th, the park will host a year-long celebration in commemoration of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s 200th birthday. Numerous other special events are offered throughout the year.

Seneca Falls, NY, is located between the cities of Rochester and Syracuse, NY. Women’s Rights National Historical Park is easily reached off the New York State Thruway. The park is open year-round Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.