Monday, March 21, 2016

6 Historic Sites to Visit for Women’s History Month in Boston and Cambridge

Boston is a city of rich history of revolution and activism, oft referred to as the “Cradle of Liberty.”  Boston women were (are) vibrant and influential actors in every historical movement, from revolution, to abolition to suffrage, but their contributions tend to go undocumented in our history books and collective consciousness.  In celebration of Women’s History month, explore some of Boston’s hidden treasures that commemorate and highlight the invisible work of fearless women.  You won’t be disappointed.

Boston Women’s Heritage Trail
Boston Educational Development Foundation
26 Court Street
Boston MA, 02108

Created in 1989 by Boston Public School teachers, librarians and students, the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail takes visitors through various landmarks commemorating more than 200 women who have been integral in Boston’s history.  The trail includes seven trails and six mini trails highlighting influential women such as Amelia Earhart, Sarah Wyman Whitman, Melnea A. Cass, and Louisa May Alcott.

African Meeting House
46 Joy St., Beacon Hill
Boston, MA 02125

The African Meeting House served as the hub of the abolition movement in Boston in the 19th century.  As the location of the founding of the New England Anti-Slavery Society by William Lloyd Garrison, the farewell address of the first American woman to speak before a gender-mixed audience (Maria Stewart) and an anti-slavery speech by Frederick Douglas, the Meeting House holds a rich history of activism and community.  It is also the oldest Black church still standing in the U.S.  The Meeting house was acquired by the African Museum of History in 1972 and restored to its 1855 appearance.

The Boston Women’s Memorial
Commonwealth Ave. Mall
484 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02116

Dedicated in 2003, The Boston Women’s Memorial consists of three bronze statues depicting activists Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone and Phillis Wheatley.  Designed by artists Meredith Gang Bergman, the statues are interactive at ground level and in casual positions.

Women’s History Month at the Boston Public Library
Rabb Lecture Hall
700 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02116

Look to the Boston Public Library for weekly events celebrating current and historical women through a variety of lectures and discussions.  Upcoming events include: “Missing Women, Blank Maps, and Data Voids: What gets Counted Counts” by Professor and Chair at Bentley University, Joni Seager, “A Revolution of Her Own: Deborah Samson Gannett” by Judith Kalaora, and a lecture with food by Maria Conte as part of the International Women Series.  Check out your nearest BPL branch for movie screenings and workshops every day.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
280 Fenway
Boston, MA 02115

Located between Fenway Park and the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is both the house of Gardner herself and one of the most spectacular collections of art in the world today.  One of the foremost female patrons of the arts, Garner traveled the world to add to her collection.  She was an eccentric woman who refused to confirm to what a lady should be in her time.  When she died, she left $1 million endowment to support the museum, requiring nothing be significantly altered.

Radcliffe College Yard: Schlesinger Library
3 James St.
Cambridge, MA 02138

The Schlesinger Library, located in the center of what was one Radcliffe (the Women’s College of Harvard), contains the finest collection of women’s history documents in America.  The library has substantial collections in women’s rights, feminism, and sexuality, totaling about 3,200 manuscripts collections and 100,000 volumes of books and periodicals.  Currently, the Schlesinger is featuring an exhibition on feminist poets called “A Language to Hear Myself” highlighting five women, including a collection by Adrienne Rich.

--Kathleen Melendy, MWPC intern