Statues of famous American women, not so much
If you haven’t heard the controversy over the statue of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony proposed for Central Park, let me go on record saying it is a step up. Until now, the female ranks depended on images of Mother Goose, Alice in Wonderland and Juliet (with Romeo). These fictional females stood up against 22 statues of real men. So, you see my point.
According to the Smithsonian, of the 5,575 outdoor sculptures of American historical figures, only 200 depict women. Even some that exist got no respect. Adelaide Johnson’s statue of Stanton, Anthony and Lucretia Mott spent 77 years in the U.S. Capitol basement, until it was dragged out in 1997 and reinstated in the Rotunda.
Women, who’ve always been on the cutting edge of historical preservation, have had better luck saving the homes of women prominent in American history than getting their images before the public. Among them are the Mary Baker Eddy house in Lynn, MA; Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House in Concord, MA; Susan B. Anthony’s home in Rochester, NY; the home of Alice Paul in Mt. Laurel, NJ; Carrie Chapman Catt’s girlhood home in Charles City, IA.
If you want to tour these historic homes, look up Jurate Kazickas and Lynn Sherr’s Susan B. Anthony Slept Here: A Guide to American Women’s Landmarks.
The National Register of Historic Places also offers a travel guide, Places Where Women Made History, which highlights 75 sites in New York and Massachusetts. Seventy-five sites in just two states! How many are mentioned in school text books, I wonder.
And then we have the 2009 attempt by Congress to authorize the Votes for Women History Trail Route, introduced by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, the trail failed to receive funding.
To end on a happy note, ten national parks relate specifically to women. One is the Women’s Rights National Historical Park,commemorating the First Woman’s Rights Convention in 1848 in Seneca Falls, NY, and which is featured in my book A Shocking & Unnatural Incident.
Among the newest sites is the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument (formerly the Sewall-Belmont House). It served as headquarters for the National Woman’s Party, is related specifically to suffrage, and was designated a National Monument in 2016.
We’re gaining on them.