Women of Cuyahoga Valley

An African American woman in uniform speaks while a group of at least 18 Black girls look over a railing into a wetland.
Ranger Lisa Ramsey leads a Junior Ranger program at Beaver Marsh, circa 1994.

NPS Collection

The public roles of women in Cuyahoga Valley reflect their diverse and evolving roles in society at large. In preparation for the national park’s 50th anniversary in 2024-25, park staff are delving deeper into the valley’s past. We are looking to tell a more balanced history, one that reflects the contributions of many. Return here to see what stories we’ve uncovered.

Here is an overview of women’s contributions.

  • Farmers. Ever since the first American Indians shifted to an agricultural lifestyle, women have participated in the growing of crops and tending of livestock. Many of the national park’s historic buildings relate to farming in the 1800s and 1900s. Some of these continue as working farms under the Countryside Initiative.
  • Workers. The valley’s two paper factories employed a large number of women, often new immigrants, in the early 1900s. Women were shopkeepers and postmistresses. As parks, camps, and other recreational facilities developed, women had new job opportunities. At the national park, women have been interpretive rangers, law enforcement rangers, scientists, curators, landscape architects, civil engineers, trail workers, managers, and administrative staff.
  • Educators. Women have taught in one-room schools in Everett and in Ira. Many women have been involved in the development of the park’s Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center. For decades, female schoolteachers have used the valley as an outdoor classroom.
  • Advocates. Women have been advocates for valley protection, starting in the national park establishment period and continuing through our various partner organizations. Female community leaders also use the park to improve the lives of the people served by their organizations.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts. Women created overnight camps here. Two that remain are Camp Mueller (Phillis Wheatley Association) and Camp Ledgewood (Girl Scouts of the Western Reserve). Women have been leaders and participants in nature study and in outdoor recreation of all kinds.
 
Black-and-white photo: women in early 1900s dress stand in front of

Celebrating the 19th Amendment

During this centennial year, Jennie Vasarhelyi reflects on the contributions of women to three national park sites in Northeast Ohio.

Black-and-white photo: older woman with pale hair in a bun, pleated white shirt pinned at collar.

Harriet Keeler

Memorialized at Brecksville Reservation in the 1920s, Keeler was a Cleveland educator, botanist, author, suffragist, and lover of nature.

Close-up view of a bronze plaque attached to an upright boulder: Harriet Keeler’s face in profile.

Honoring Harriet Keeler in Brecksville

Get the backstory on how some of the first public parkland in Cuyahoga Valley was preserved in honor of this remarkable professional woman.

African-American woman with short hair, in a buttoned top with pleated front and a white collar.

Jane Edna Hunter

A national advocate for young Black women, Hunter founded the Phillis Wheatley Association which built Camp Mueller in the Cuyahoga Valley.

Black-and-white photo of a girl wearing a broad-brimmed hat, a polka-dot dress, and white tights.

Helyn Fiedler Toth

Helyn Fiedler Toth remembers growing up in Hunt House in Everett during the 1920s and 30s.

Inside a barn, a female farmer stands inside a metal sheep pen holding a lamb.

Learning to Farm

Listen to past and present Countryside Initiative farmers talk about how they learned to farm.

Inside a red barn, a young girl walks away from a chicken feeder and chickens holding a large scoop.

Raising a Farm Family

Listen to valley residents talk about roles in their farm families in the early-to-mid 1900s.

Seven girls in plain dresses crowd in front a woman who is only a head taller.

One-room School in Everett

Helyn Fiedler Toth and her childhood friend Marjorie Osborne Morgan recall attending the one-room school in Everett.

An African American woman sits in long dark dress and white shawl and cap, knitting.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth's 1851 “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech in nearby Akron became one of the most famous women’s rights speeches in American history.

Blue and gold patch with NPS, GSUSA logos and white star; words read

Girl Scout Ranger 19th Amendment Patch

Learn about the Girl Scout Ranger 19th Amendment Patch Program and this limited-edition commemorative patch for Girl Scouts.

 

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    Last updated: September 9, 2020

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