ALBANY — New Yorkers are encouraged to celebrate women’s contributions to state history through events, programming and visits to State Parks and historic sites during Women’s History Month in March.
“During Women’s History Month, we are proud to promote and support the undertold stories of women who helped shape our state’s diverse history,” said Erik Kulleseid, commissioner of state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “I welcome visitors to experience our displays, events, virtual programming and online content, as well as through safe, socially-distanced outdoor visits to our sites related to the many roles of women in our common heritage.”
Women’s History Month originated as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress requested that President Ronald Reagan proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987, Congress passed legislation establishing March as “Women’s History Month” and Presidents have issued annual national proclamations on the event since 1995.
State Parks events and programming scheduled for March includes:
Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center, Jones Beach State Park: The center, which explores how energy consumption shapes the natural environment, will feature a series of professional profiles of women involved in the conservation and renewable energy fields entitled “Women & the Green Economy.” Themes including marine conservation, coastal resilience, solar energy and power distribution will illuminate the roles of women in New York State and the nation.
Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site, Yonkers: A tour of the Colonial-era mansion will explore the potential relationship between George Washington and Mary Philipse, daughter of the Lord of Philipsburg Manor and a Loyalist during the American Revolution, based on the 2019 novel “Dear George, Dear Mary” by author Mary Calvi. Guided tours start at 1 p.m. March 6, March 13, March 20 and March 27; attendance is limited to COVID-19 safety protocols. The event is free for children and Friends of Philipse Mantor Hall, $3 for seniors and students, and $5 for adults. Advance registration is available by calling 914-965-4027.
Clermont State Historic Site, Germantown: A Facebook Live presentation and lecture entitled “Suffrage in the Hudson Valley” will focus on the fight for women’s rights that resulted in the passage of women’s suffrage in 1917 in New York State, and nationally in 1920 with passage of the 19th Amendment. The event begins at 2 p.m. March 13. Registration is available https://www.friendsofclermont.org
Grafton Lakes State Park, Grafton: A presentation will be made on the story of Helen Ellett, who was the second female fire tower observer in New York State, working at the parks Dickinson Fire Tower between 1943 and 1965. Ellett’s work influenced the creation of the Grafton Fire Department. The March 14 event will be held at 10 a.m. until noon, and again from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Preregistration is required no later than 4 p.m. March 9, and can be made by emailing email@example.com. Attendance is limited due to COVID-19 safety protocols.
Clermont State Historic Site, Germantown: Interpreters will share a variety of stories on past women and girls in a program outside at the site as well as on Facebook in the event of poor weather. Registration is available https://www.friendsofclermont.org/event-details/girl-power-story-hour
Clermont State Historic Site, Germantown: A free Facebook Live presentation will be made on the story of Serena Livingston, which includes her courtship with a famous writer, her unhappy marriage to a famous general, and her adventures in the Old West. Registration is available https://www.friendsofclermont.org/event-details/the-mysteries-of-serena-livingston
Jay Heritage Center, Rye: A Zoom virtual event will be held by award-winning historian and Wall Street Journal columnist Dr. Amanda Foreman for a behind-the-scenes look at her documentary, “The Ascent of Woman” - the inspiration for her forthcoming book, ‘The World Made by Women: A History of Women from the Apple to the Pill,’ scheduled to be published by Penguin Random House in 2022. Currently, Foreman is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal bi-weekly ‘Historically Speaking’ and an Honorary Research Senior Fellow in the History Department at the University of Liverpool. She is a co-founder of the literary nonprofit, House of SpeakEasy Foundation, a trustee of the Whiting Foundation, and an Honorary Research Senior Fellow in the History Department at the University of Liverpool. Registration is available http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ehi9wq80054a14b7&llr=myqbgzdab
State Historic Sites with links to women’s history include:
Ganondagan State Historic Site, 7000 County Rd 41, Victor, NY 14564: The women of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) lived in a society that afforded them a level of equality and freedom centuries before similar rights would be given to other women in the United States. Haudenosaunee women of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Mohawk, and Oneida chose their chiefs, owned and managed their own property, and held key political positions. When women in New York State began to organize to demand their rights, the Haudenosaunee provided a model of equality. Learn more https://www.ganondagan.org/hodinohso-ni-women--from-the-time-of-creation
Johnson Hall State Historic Site, 139 Hall Ave., Johnstown, NY 12095: Known at different times of her life as Konwatsi’tsiaienni and Degonwadonti, Molly Brant was a Mohawk woman likely born sometime around 1736 and grew up near what is now Canajoharie, Montgomery County. By the age of 18, Molly was already beginning to participate in local politics and likely met Sir William Johnson, the royal English representative to the Native People of the Mohawk Valley, as she interacted with leaders in the area. Eventually, she and Johnson would become romantically linked and Molly would have eight children with him while living at his estate, Johnson Hall. She spoke her native Mohawk and dressed in the Mohawk style all her life and, after Johnson’s death, Molly would return to the Mohawk and lead as a Clan Mother during the turbulent Revolutionary War period. Learn more at https://www.nps.gov/people/molly-brant-konwatsi-tsiaienni.htm
John Brown Farm State Historic Site, 115 John Brown Road, Lake Placid, NY 12946: Abolitionist John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry before the Civil War earned him a prominent place in history books, but the contributions of his daughter, Annie, have been overlooked for more than a century. Committed to the freedom of the enslaved, Annie served as a lookout for the conspirators leading up to the raid and was vocal in the shaping of her father’s legacy in public memory, speaking stridently against depictions of him as “mad.” Learn more at https://johnbrownlives.org/
John Jay Homestead State Historic Site, 400 Jay St., Katonah, NY 10536: Founding Father John Jay would serve New York as governor and the country as its first Chief Justice, but his daughters had a strong hand in managing his household and estates. Learn more about the Jay women at http://johnjayhomestead.org/wp-content/uploads/Am-I-Not-Myself-A-Woman.pdf
Jay Heritage Center, 210 Boston Post Road, Rye, NY 10580: The Jay family also owned an estate in Rye, New York, where young John Jay was raised. The land remained in the family for generations and was vital in inspiring one of America’s first female landscape architects, Mary Rutherford Jay, John’s great-great granddaughter who began her practice at the turn of the 20th century. Learn more https://jayheritagecenter.org/about/mary-rutherfurd-jay/
Lorenzo State Historic Site, 17 Rippleton Road, Cazenovia, NY 13035: The Federal-style mansion at Lorenzo looks out onto a garden designed in 1914 by Ellen Biddle Shipman, a woman pioneer of landscape design, to enhance her father’s garden layout with more formal perennial beds. In 1983, restoration was begun following that 1914 plan and today the garden and grounds are available to the public and are often used for wedding ceremonies and receptions. The Lorenzo grounds are open year-round. Plan your visit https://www.friendsoflorenzo.org/plan-your-visit
Oriskany Battlefield State Historic Site, 7801 New York 69, Oriskany, NY 13424: During the Battle of Oriskany in the Revolutionary War, Oneida woman Tyonajanegen (Two Kettles) accompanied her husband Han Yerry Tewahangarahken into battle, reloading his musket for him after he was wounded. She was known for her valor and her skills as a horsewoman, riding quickly to Fort Schuyler to warn of a coming attack. Learn more https://www.oneidaindiannation.com/oneidas-in-the-u-s-military-the-revolutionary-war/
Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, 32 Catherine St., Albany, NY 12202: The success of the Hamilton musical has generated quite a bit of public interest in the Schuyler family history. Learn about Angelica Schuyler’s contributions to military intelligence on the patriot side during the Revolutionary War http://schuylermansion.blogspot.com/2016/12/i-desire-you-would-remember-ladies.html. Learn about the stories of enslaved women at the mansion http://schuylermansion.blogspot.com/2017/03/searching-for-enslaved-women-of.html. Tours of the restored mansion can be reserved in advance https://www.friendsofschuylermansion.org/visit
Bear Mountain State Park, Palisades Parkway or Route 9W North, Bear Mountain, NY 10911: Considered Colonial America’s first female botanist, Jane Colden (1724-1760) grew up on her family’s farm west of Newburgh. Orange County. After showing an early interest in plants, she went on to write her own Botanical Manuscript describing over 300 native flora. At the end of March, the park will unveil a hand-painted sign detailing Colden’s contribution to botany in the Hudson Valley. It will be located at the Jane Colden Garden at the park’s Trailside Museums and Zoo.
The State Parks Blog also has recent posts on women in New York State history, including Beatrice Mary MacDonald, a World War I nurse who became the first woman to be awarded the Purple Heart; Annie Edson Taylor, a Finger Lakes native who became the first person to survive a plunge over Niagara Falls in a barrel; the mystery over a portrait of a noted Gilded Age society matron Ruth Livingston Mills; noted African American abolitionist and suffragist Sojourner Truth; and anti-suffragists in New York who allied with efforts to deny them from obtaining the vote.