Thursday, March 1, 2012

Stopping by Seneca Falls

March 1 - Today's post provided by Lisa Taylor of Shelf-employed

In November, on a cold Thursday night spotted with wintry precipitation, my daughter and I packed up the family van and headed north on a “college road trip.” With Friday and Saturday college tours in Syracuse and Rochester, we had planned a busy weekend of driving and walking. The weather was cold and dreary. After spending the early part of Friday in Syracuse, we headed west on Route 90, en route to Rochester under a gray sky. 

We were speeding along at a good clip when I saw the sign, SENECA FALLS, NEXT EXIT.

Seneca Falls? I had no idea that we would be in the vicinity. I also had no idea how far off the road it might be, but there was the sign, calling to me. I yelled out, “Seneca Falls - next exit! Should we?” “Yes,” my daughter replied. “Do it.” There was no further discussion. And just like that, in less than the time it takes to drive a mile at 70 mph, we turned off the highway towards Seneca Falls, home of the Wesleyan Methodist Church and the site of the first Women’s Rights Convention. Two women from two generations, united in our desire to see the birthplace of the women’s movement in the United States, no further conversation necessary.
© L Taylor
 This is my photograph of the church, on that nondescript intersection in the small upstate New York town of Seneca Falls, where committed women made history and paved the way for future generations. I’m sure you can find better photos elsewhere on the Internet, but I like this photo because it’s mine, because it captures a moment that I shared with my daughter, my daughter, whose public school education taught her the importance of places like Seneca Falls. Before we left the National Park site, she purchased a copy of the Declaration of Sentiments - with her own money.

© L Taylor
We are empowered by education. The books, the writers, and the women that we will feature this month are helping to educate a new generation, bringing women’s history to life in a way that textbooks do not. Seneca Falls is where the modern women’s movement began, and in our own small way, we hope to continue it here. For the next 30 days, be enlightened, be educated, be moved.

This year’s Women’s History Month theme is "Women’s Education - Women’s Empowerment."
Pass it on.

Though less well-known than her dear friend, Susan B. Anthony, I find the life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton to be particularly inspiring.  One cannot help but wonder at this 19th century superwoman - leading the charge for women's suffrage while simultaneously maintaining a successful 47-year marriage, and raising seven children!  Author Tanya Lee Stone chronicles the life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton for young readers in Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote. (Holt 2008)

Lisa Taylor is a youth services librarian in New Jersey.  She is a member of NJLA, ALA, and ALSC.


  1. This post makes me wish I was signed up for a detour to Seneca Falls. I wonder what a map of important sites in women's history in North America would look like? Or, the world for that matter.

    Thanks for this post. I haven't read Elizabeth Leads The Way, but now that I know of it I want to add it to my list.

    If I can also mention a title for young readers on this topic?

    It's Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony by Penny Colman.
    And if you want links this is a site to info on it
    Happy KIDLIT Celebrates Women's History Month!

  2. Thanks, Jan. You've given me something to think about. I'd like to see that map, too! I'll add your link to our list of resources. If you've never seen the Ken Burns PBS special, Not for Ourselves Alone, I highly recommend it. It, too is the story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

  3. Thanks for your post. I'd like to visit Seneca Falls with my daughter one day, too!

  4. Thanks to all of you. I want to see the map and the Ken Burns special.

  5. As a young girl, I remember Elizabeth Cady Stanton fondly. The suffragettes were people I connected with in a deep way.

    Thanks for sharing this book.

  6. I like The Ballot Box Battle as well for another take on Elizabeth Cady Stanton via picture book but I was glad to learn about your list to round out the books that I read to my girls.

    Pragmatic Mom