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National Women’s Hall of Fame, Seneca Falls, NY

March is Women’s History Month! Women are, by and large, the unsung heroes (well, heroines!) of history. They have often worked behind the scenes or have even assumed men’s names to introduce their achievements to the world.

Did you know that the circular saw was invented by a woman? Tabitha Babbitt, in 1812. Suffrage StatueThe dishwasher was invented by Josephine Cochran. Kevlar- the material used for life-saving bullet-proof vests was invented by Stephanie Kwolek in 1966. Isa Forbes invented the electric hot water heaer in 1917. Anna Anna Connelly invented the fire escape in 1887. And Ruth Wakefield invented chocolate-chip cookies in 1930. 🙂 (Source: www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0906931.html)

Not to mention, a woman invented a blog about New York Travel. 😀

As a history buff, I find it very fitting that the National Women’s Hall of Fame is in Seneca Falls, NY. Seneca Falls was the birthplace of the women’s rights movement. According to Fame inductee and suffragist Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis (Susan B. Anthony gave the eulogy at Davis’ funeral, by the way), the women’s rights movement (as well as the abolition movement) was the direct result of the stunning wave of religious revivals in Upstate New York. Charles Grandison Finney, a lawyer from Adams, NY, was converted to Christianity and began a blitz of revivals named the “Second Great Awakening” that converted hundreds of thousands of people throughout Central New York. As a matter of fact, Central New York from Utica to Rochester was nicknamed the “Burned Over District” because people closed bars and gambling places, attended churches, cleaned up their lives, and became honest businessmen and women.

Charles Finney permitted women to pray in public in mixed-gender prayer meetings, a scandalous move at the time. He was extremely outspoken in his support for women’s human rights, for the abolition of slavery and for the removal of bars and other places where men got drunk. Finney was president of Oberlin College in Ohio, the first American college to allow women to learn alongside blacks and men. One of the ladies who attended Oberlin College, Antoinette Blackwell, who became the first woman minister of a recognized denomination and led a pastorate for a Congregational Church in Wayne County, NY.

With Upstate New York ripe for change, the first Women’s Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls. Lucretia Mott, that famous Quaker women known for her amazing speaking abilities, joined with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others to petition and organize the women’s rights movement.

Womens Rights Marker

The National Women’s Hall of Fame is on 76 Fall Street. It’s a tall, narrow building, almost inconspicuous.

Natl Womens Hall Fame

The National Women’s Hall of Fame was started in 1969, to honor American women for exceptional achievements throughout history: “to honor in perpetuity those women, citizens of the United States of America, whose contributions to the arts, athletics, business, education, government, the humanities, philanthropy and science, have been the greatest value for the development of their country.”

When you first walk in, you see a bell. It’s the original bell from the old Seneca Falls Knitting Mill, off the Erie Canal.

Knitting Bell

The lady who greeted us as we entered, Christine, informed us that the organization had purchased the knitting mill and plan to relocate the Hall of Fame to the knitting mill in the near future. The knitting mill, a short walk from the current Hall’s location, employed many of the Seneca Falls women who fought for equality. We walked down the street to see the mill. It is definitely larger and will be able to contain larger displays.

Doesn’t it look like a scene from a Currier and Ives painting?

Knitting Mill

Back to the Hall of Fame. We meandered the narrow halls, checking out the displays of the inductees. There are hundreds of inductees. Most ladies I knew or had heard of. However, there are some ladies missing, women who I believe should be on the walls (such as Phyllis Schlafly and Shirley Temple Black).

Hall 1

Hall 2

ELiz Blackwell

Clara Barton

There were very few displays in the building, just a few here and there. I liked this one, filled with Votes for Women paraphernalia.

Votes Paraphernalia

It’s nice to know that the National Women’s Hall of Fame is growing. They do take submissions for inductees! You can nominate a woman through the online nomination form at their website at www.greatwomen.org. Additionally, you can pay $100 to nominate a women (such as a mother or sister) to be included in the Hall’s Memorial and Tribute section.

I look forward to seeing the new location with new displays at the Knitting Mill. I’ll definitely be back for that!

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About the Author

I've been traveling throughout New York State since I got the travel bug after touring the Herkimer Home on a school field trip as a youngster. We've been blogging about our travels since 2006 and have visited over half of New York's 62 counties so far.

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  1. Thank You for making this post site available. Not many people
    know about Tabitha Babbett. [Babbett Museum, in Albany, New York] I have made my living using circular saw blades and also [preaching] to [4 daughters, &5-faster daughters, to young ladies , that they can invent whatever they put their minds to do. Tabitha Babbett was smarter than people give her credit for. You will noticethat Eli Whitney ws also on the invention papers. Why? I know why. Go back to just a few years earlier, when women were said to be –Witches– if they had an imagination![Salem Witch Hunts] So, by involving Eli Whitney, on the paper works, those MACHO RATS had to say– Well wait a minute. Maybe Eli was a relative of Tabitha. This way, she had some protection. I have not found any artists depictions of Tabitha. I know I can make one, from other female images, so I may do that . Thank you, John T. Rinkes