Located in the heart of Rochester, New York, a city with a rich history is the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House. This museum offers a deeper understanding of the women’s suffrage movement and pays tribute to Susan B. Anthony, a pioneering figure in the fight for women’s rights. Anthony’s former home showcases the lesser-known aspects of her life, activism, and powerful friendships, from her early involvement in the temperance movement to her fight for labour rights and pay equity.
Rochester is well known for its stunning High Falls, vibrant culinary scene, proximity to Seneca Lake, and historic Rochester Public Market, but the focus on the Susan B. Anthony Museum highlights the captivating history of human rights in this small yet influential city in Upstate New York. Keep reading to learn why visiting the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House is a must on your road trip to Rochester, New York.
Continue reading or listen to this podcast episode here!
Museums Rochester NY: Susan B. Anthony House
Our special guest, Deborah Hughes, the president and CEO of the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House, joins us to provide insights into Susan B. Anthony’s life and impact. We learn that Susan B. Anthony was not only a key player in the women’s suffrage movement but also an advocate for various causes, including temperance, labor rights, and ending slavery.
Susan B. Anthony Accomplishments — Rise to Activism
Despite her death occurring 14 years before the 19th Amendment was passed in the United States, Susan B. Anthony played a vital role in changing laws that allowed women the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony’s life work was about striving towards equity, particularly for women. During her time, women had limited rights and were treated as property once they were married. They could not own property in their own names, sign contracts, open bank accounts, or control their wages. They were regarded as their husband’s property under the law, and any children they bore also belonged to their husbands. This inequality motivated her to fight for change.
In this episode, we cover:
- [4:54-5:57] Temperance and its impact on Susan B. Anthony’s life and advocacy work.
- [6:51-7:44] How Susan B. Anthony was involved in various social justice causes, including temperance, labor and pay equity, and abolition.
- [10:09-00:12:37] Major disagreement between Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass.
- [13:08-14:24] Susan B. Anthony was honoured by having stamps issued in her name and people leaving “I voted today” stickers at her gravesite during the 2016 presidential election.
- [14:45-15:05] Tips for visiting the Susan B. Anthony House.
Anthony’s activism began with the temperance movement, which advocated against the consumption of distilled spirits (alcohol) and was deeply rooted in the societal issues she witnessed around her.
In the 19th century, excessive alcohol consumption led to many people drinking themselves to death, causing cirrhosis of the liver at a young age. For married women, this posed additional challenges, as their husbands’ drinking habits could lead to poverty and even the indentured servitude of their unborn children to pay off bar bills.
Leaving a domestic violence situation worsened by substance abuse was nearly impossible for women, as they were unable to rent apartments or take their children with them due to the legal constraints of marriage.
Susan B. Anthony was not only committed to abstaining from alcohol but also to addressing the problems that kept individuals, particularly women, in difficult situations. Her involvement in the temperance movement made her more radicalized and passionate about women’s rights.
Pay inequity was another issue that Anthony felt strongly about. As a teacher, she personally experienced the wage gap between men and women. This injustice fueled her determination to fight for equal pay. She believed every individual, regardless of gender, deserved fair treatment and equal opportunities. Her efforts in this area were critical in bringing attention to the problem and laying the groundwork for future progress in achieving pay equality.
Anthony’s commitment to justice was present in her involvement in the abolitionist movement. Coming from a Quaker background, she believed in the equality of all people. While some Quakers advocated for isolation from slavery, Anthony’s family believed in actively working toward its abolition.
Her father, a supporter of Frederick Douglass’s newspaper, introduced Anthony to Douglass, a leading figure in the abolition movement. Their subsequent friendship and collaboration on human rights issues further solidified Anthony’s dedication to justice.
Anthony and Douglass’ friendship is a testament to their commitment to advancing human rights. They would often meet and have tea, discussing ways to move their respective movements forward.
However, they had one important debate – whether to prioritize women’s suffrage or African American civil rights. When asked to focus on a petition campaign for Black men’s voting rights, Susan B. Anthony was initially appalled, as she believed this would divide the movement and compromise their ultimate goal of universal suffrage.
She argued that adding the word “male” to the Constitution through the 15th Amendment would further marginalize and subservient Black women to Black men. This disagreement between Anthony and Frederick Douglass highlights differing strategies within the movement. It also highlights the complexity of intersectional justice and the challenges faced by activists who navigate multiple systems of oppression. Nonetheless, their collaboration and mutual respect paved the way for progress in both movements.
After exploring the Susan B. Anthony Museum, we suggest taking a short stroll to Susan B. Anthony Square Park to see the “Let’s Have Tea” sculpture, which honors the abolitionist and suffragist.
Susan B. Anthony Coin & Stamps
Susan B. Anthony’s advocacy has had a lasting impact; over the years, she has been honoured in many ways. For instance, the U.S. government has issued stamps in her name, and she has appeared on a dollar coin. Check your piggy bank because you may have a Susan B. Anthony coin in your possession but haven’t noticed!
Her gravesite in Mount Hope Cemetery has also become a symbol of civic engagement. People leave “I voted today” stickers on her grave to honour her legacy and commit to continuing the fight for equality for all.
Exercise Your Right To Vote
Casting our ballots is one way to honour the tireless work of suffragettes who fought for our rights. Women, in particular, fought long and hard for suffrage, and it was through the efforts of pioneers like Susan B. Anthony that this right was eventually granted. By exercising our right to vote, we have the power to shape the future and make our voices heard.
Bringing history to life, visit the National Landmark Susan B. Anthony Museum and House to connect with the past and learn about the life of Susan B. Anthony, a visionary and revolutionary. Explore the rooms where Anthony lived and strategized while reflecting on present-day social justice issues and all the work that still needs to be done.
Other Episodes You’ll Enjoy Next
Practical Tips To Road Trip With Pets – Episode 4