As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, Connecting Point explores the life of women’s rights pioneer Susan B. Anthony. Born in Adams, Massachusetts, Anthony was a social reformer and activist who played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement.
Today, the home on East Street where Anthony was born houses a museum bearing her name and Connecting Point Producer Dave Fraser paid a visit to Adams to learn more about the life and legacy of Susan B. Anthony.
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Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, we examine the life of Susan B. Anthony. Born in the northern Berkshire County town of Adams, Massachusetts in 1820, Anthony was a social reformer and women’s rights activist who played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement.
Today, the home on E Street where Anthony was born houses a museum bearing her name, and Connecting Point Producer Dave Fraser paid a visit to Adams to learn more about the life and legacy of Susan B. Anthony.
Cassandra Peltier, Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum: Susan B. Anthony was born right in this house on February 15, 1820. This house is the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
It’s a place where people can learn about the influences from her family, from her community. They can sort of walk through the chronology of her life. They can learn about her career. They can see everything she was involved in and just sort of get a snapshot of Adams in the early 1800s.
I interned at the museum from 2015 to 2016, and each intern gets their own unique project. And I have a background in fashion history and women’s history. So my project was to recreate one of Susan’s black dresses. So we have it on display in the Legacy Room and at the birthday celebration in 2016, I spoke a bit about my project and showed the progress I had made. And apparently I made an impression on the board of directors.
Susan B. Anthony was an all-around reformer and activist. And she spent her childhood really observing what her parents did to set examples, taking care of those who are less fortunate, seeking out injustices, fighting against oppression. And she was also just always inquisitive, always intelligent. She started learning to read and write when she was three years old.
She started teaching when she was 17. And while she was working in schools, she saw the effects that liquor consumption could have on families. And the effects of abuse of a drunk father on children, and so she became very heavily involved in the Temperance Movement first.
And in the 1840s, she went to a Temperance convention and she tried to get up on stage and address the assembly. And the gentleman stopped her and said, “No, the ladies have come to listen, not to speak.” And that was one of those moments when she started turning her attention to women’s rights.
In 1851, she was introduced to Elizabeth Cady Stanton. They had a mutual friend, Amelia Bloomer, who we know for the Bloomer costumes, but she was also an avid Abolitionist. And so she introduced Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who had a professional partnership for about 50 years. And they were really the leading force behind the early Suffrage movement.
And one of the things that I love most about her is that she also did have a humble side. One of my favorite photographs of her shows, her sitting at her desk and the newspaper wanted to do a story on her and take a picture of her at work.
And she only agreed to take the photograph on the condition that she could line up portraits of all of her colleagues along her desk because it wasn’t just her, it wasn’t just her movement. It was for all women. And so she’s just become this huge, larger than life icon for women’s rights.
She died in March of 1906, a month after her eighty sixth birthday. And there are some great quotes from her final moments, just about how she’d spent most of her life fighting for women to get the right to vote, and she didn’t see it come to fruition.
But it was another 14 years before the amendment passed, and it’s known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment because of the way she devoted her life to it and all of the all of the big steps forward she made for women’s rights over the years.
And so in 2020, we have two things that we’re celebrating. We have the centennial of the 19th Amendment, but we also have the two hundred anniversary of her birthday. So we get to thank her for all of the work that she did to pave the way for women today.