25 Jul Seneca Falls Canal Festival & Convention Days
Hey Everyone, These past two weekends have been busy for the staff at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. From July 8th – 10th, 2016 the Park participated in Canal Festival, which celebrates the history of the Erie Canal in New York State. The weekend following the Canal Festival, the park celebrated its Convention Days, which is the anniversary of the First Women’s Rights Convention and the signing of the Declaration of Sentiments. At Canal Fest, we managed to reach out to more than 400 visitors from our local communities. We offered games, friendship bracelets, and Jr. Ranger badges to our visitors. We also received a visit from Elizabeth Cady Stanton herself—portrayed by Dr. Melinda Grube. Dr. Grube, who is a professor of history at the local Community College, often visits the park to portray Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage.In preparation for Convention Days we had our very own Ranger Abby, arranging the Living History program for the weekend. Many members of our Park staff participated in wearing historic dress from the 19th and early 20th Century and created their own identities, real and imagined. I portrayed “Gertrude,” a mid 19th Century woman, who wasn’t sure if women should get the right to vote. As part of the festivities, the park and the Friends of Women’s Rights NHP organized the annual mile-long procession from The Elizabeth Cady Stanton House to the Wesleyan Chapel for the reading of the Declaration of Sentiments. It said that when the First Women’s Rights Convention occurred, back in 1848, the Chapel was locked and the participants had a local boy break in by climbing through the window and opening the door. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a volunteer to “break into” the Chapel, this year, but there’s always next year. Some of our speakers this year included Megan Smith, the Chief Technology officer of the United States, Dr. Melinda Grube, who read the original Declaration of Sentiments, and Attorney & Activist, Nadia Shahram, who read the Declaration of Sentiments for Muslim women, for which visitors were given the chance to sign. Some of our sessions and panels included a presentation on Dress Reform, a discussion of including women in out nation’s currency, and a lecture on late 19th Century Feminist thought on the Haudenosaunee. Most of the weekend was spent interacting with guests and visitors in the park. I met many wonderful people from all walks of life, who had their own reasons for participating in this year’s Convention Days. I can’t wait to see what the Women’s Rights NHP has in store for Convention Days 2017 and 2020, where we will celebrate the New York State Centennial and the Nationwide Centennial of women getting the right to vote.