Things to Watch, Places to Go, and a Person to Know
By: Maria Smith
This is sadly the last blog post of my internship. I am so incredibly grateful to the entire WORI team for welcoming me into their team. My internship was truly a group effort. I would not have as thorough or entertaining StoryMap if it weren’t for the comments and suggestions of the park rangers and Stephanie Freese (the 19th Amendment Centennial Coordinator). I embedded videos of park ranger talks within the StoryMap as well to add information that I couldn’t cover but desperately wanted to include. In our exit interview, I told Stephanie that even though this year was so different because of COVID-19, I think that it was a better year to intern with the Park because everyone was available to chat and collaborate in ways that they normally would not have been able to do with typical work schedules. If you’d like to check out the StoryMap, it can be found here: https://arcg.is/jS8fb.
In my last blog post, I’m going to cover quite a bit! I’ll be talking about the must-watch videos from Equality Weekend, my official park visit (seriously go visit the Women’s Rights National Historical Park if you can), and I will be ending with a vignette (story) about my favorite organizer Jane Hunt.
Equality weekend marked the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. For those of you who don’t know, the 19th Amendment provided U.S. citizens with the right to vote regardless of gender. Many people erroneously believe that the Amendment provided all women with the right to vote, but in 1920 the term U.S. citizen was a complicated notion. Due to Federal Laws in 1920, Asian American women, indigenous women, and women who married immigrant men were not considered U.S. citizens. In many parts of the U.S. Black women were kept out of the polls through exclusionary practices, like literacy tests, until 1965. So rather than view August 26th as the anniversary of women’s suffrage, we should celebrate it as a major milestone in women’s suffrage, but not the solution to universal suffrage. It is for this reason that my favorite event of Equality Weekend was “A Vote for What?” by Sylvea Hollis (found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOhujPelPe8). In her talk, Dr. Hollis shares her family’s history with voting and urges us all to explore voting through our family trees. I recommend that everyone watch “A Vote for What?” in preparation for the upcoming November election to contextualize our right to vote.
My Park Visit
Due to COVID-19, most of my internship has been done remotely, which as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog had its perks. The one downfall was that I wasn’t able to visit the sites in person. As an archaeologist, I believe in the importance of materials to understand the past. So, I was incredibly excited to see the Wesleyan Chapel, where the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, and to see the houses where organizers of the Convention lived in 1848.
My favorite moment on my visit was to see the wallpaper in the Stanton house that matched the wallpaper Stanton had in her home when she lived in Seneca Falls. As the park ranger pointed out, the wallpaper kind of looked like an abstract drawing of a frog dissection, but for whatever reason Stanton enjoyed it and it was interesting to glimpse deeper into Stanton’s personality through her home décor choices.
A Vignette of Jane Hunt
Jane Hunt is one of my favorite organizers because her life is most closely aligned with that of many other suffragists and abolitionists of her time. Jane Hunt is not a household name, out of all of the organizers she is the only one who does not have books written about her, and she is the only one of the organizers who does not have her photograph held in the Library of Congress collections.
Unlike many women of her time, Hunt lived a life of privilege, her husband Richard was one of the wealthiest men in Waterloo, NY. The Hunts had a large home and Irish servants to help around the house. The Hunts could dedicate themselves to reform movements that they believed in, because of their financial security.
Jane and Richard met through abolitionist Quaker circles and remained dedicated abolitionists during their marriage. The Hunts did not buy or consume products that had been made with/by enslaved labor. Their Waterloo home was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Many freedom seekers sought refuge in their home on their way to freedom in Canada.
Despite Richard Hunt’s enthusiastic support of the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, Jane Hunt was subjected to many of the injustices that women were speaking out against. When Jane married Richard, she became his fourth wife and a stepmother to his three children. Together, they had four more children. Their daughter Jenny was born just before the 1848 Convention. Jane was expected to raise all seven children with little help from Richard.
Richard passed away in 1856. He included a clause in his Will that for Jane to receive money from his estate, she needed to stay in their Waterloo home. Due to laws in 1856, she could not fight the clause in court, and it was nearly impossible for women to hold a high paying job. Hunt could not become financially independent and keep her children if she chose to leave Waterloo. Therefore, Hunt lived in their home in Waterloo for the rest of her life to avoid financial destitution.