Center for Women's History

Women’s history is American history. Bring it into your classroom with our new curriculum!

Thank you for your interest in the Center for the Study of Women's History at the New-York Historical Society. Please enter your email to receive occasional updates about our programs and exhibitions.

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Major support for the Center for Women's History curriculum was provided by 

 

 

Lead support for Saving Washington was provided by Joyce B. Cowin and the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. Additional support provided by Susan Klein.

 


 

Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

 

 

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Resource 10: Benevolent Societies
This excerpt explores the formation of the New York Orphan Asylum by Isabella Graham, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, and others. Charity work was seen as appropriate for women and enabled them to learn important skills, but different state laws meant different levels of freedom for the organizers.

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Gilbert Stuart, Mrs. Marcia Van Ness, 1805. Oil on canvas. Edgewater Classical American Homes Preservation Trust.

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Resource 11: Catharine Beecher’s Campaign Against Indian Removal
Catharine Beecher’s circular urged women to join a petition campaign against the planned relocation of southeastern Indians. The Indian Removal Act was passed anyway, but the failure of this campaign had an important effect: it convinced many that large-scale colonization—the movement of free blacks to Africa—was unworkable.

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Attributed to W & F Langenheim, Catharine Beecher, 1848. Daguerreotype. Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, A102-438-1z.

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Resource 12: Women, Quakers, and Reform
This important passage from Quaker doctrine held that “male and female are one in Christ.” Supported by this egalitarian view, Quaker women were ministers, elders, and shared in decision-making. Because of these experiences, and because many Quaker communities saw social good as their mission, Quaker women became essential to temperance, abolition, women’s rights, and other nineteenth-century efforts.

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Lucretia Mott, ca. 1860–1880. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C., 9750024.

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Resource 13: Fire at Pennsylvania Hall
A fire destroyed Pennsylvania Hall, a meeting place for abolitionists, on May 17, 1838. It was set by a mob angry because white women, including Angelina Grimke Weld, had spoken to mixed audiences of men and women, and because white women and black women had walked arm in arm through the crowd.

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John Caspar Wild, Destruction by Fire of Pennsylvania Hall, 1838. Lithograph. Library Company of Philadelphia, *W94 [P.9057.27].

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Resource 14: Fashion Plates
This color illustration appeared in Godey’s Lady’s Book in July 1848, the same month as the Seneca Falls convention. Godey’s showcased the latest fashions, appealed to middle-class women, farmers’ wives, and immigrant mill workers, and provided a strong visual message about the “ideal” woman.

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Godey’s Paris Fashions Americanized, Godey’s Lady’s Book, July 1848. Handcolored engraving. New-York Historical Society Library, TX1.G58, vol. 37.

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Resource 15: Women Abolitionists in London
The 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London was segregated by sex, with the male delegates able to speak and vote, and the females banished to the sidelines. Partly in response to their treatment, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott later organized the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls.

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Benjamin Robert Haydon, The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840, 1841. Oil on canvas. Primary Collection, National Portrait Gallery, London, Given by British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, 1880, NPG 599.

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Resource 16: The New York State Married Women’s Property Law
An excerpt from the 1848 New York State law that granted married women the right to own property. It became a model for similar statues in other states, and helped eliminate what was, for middle-class and wealthy women, one of the most onerous tenets of coverture.

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Ernestine Rose, 1881. Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.

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Resource 17: Reactions to Seneca Falls
These passages from newspapers in New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania were reproduced by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her co-authors in their History of Woman Suffrage. The critical tone of these clips surprised the women who had taken part and led many to disavow their role in the event.

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her daughter, Harriot, 1856, Daguerreotype, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington D.C., 97500106.

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Resource 18: Bloomers
Nathaniel Currier produced this lithograph of the bloomer costume, a short dress worn over “Turkish trousers.” Dress reform was one of many changes sought by radicalized women in the mid-nineteenth century, but those who first wore the bloomer outfit in and near Seneca Falls soon gave it up, and focused their efforts on winning the right to vote.

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N. Currier (firm), The Bloomer Costume, 1851, Lithograph, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington D.C., 90711963.

Creative: Tronvig Group