March is Women’s History Month!

March 26, 2016
1-2:30pm
Rundel Auditorium, 3rd floor, Rundel Memorial Building
*Please note: Parking on the Court and Broad street bridges is free on weekends*

Women Voted in New York—Before Columbus

The very first women’s rights convention took place in Seneca Falls, N.Y., 168 years ago, culminating in the signing of the Declaration of Sentiments (a document that has since been lost to history). The resulting women’s rights movement changed the course of history. But to the neighboring Haudenosaunee (traditional Iroquois) communities, political and economic equality among men and women was nothing new. Haudenosaunee women had had this authority—and more—since long before Christopher Columbus came to these shores.

While white women were the property of their husbands and considered dead in the law, Haudenosaunee women had more authority and status before Columbus than New York State women have today. Haudenosaunee women had the responsibility for putting the male leaders in place. They had control of their own bodies and were economically independent. Rape and wife beating were rare and dealt with harshly; committing violence against a woman kept a man from becoming Chief in this egalitarian, gender-balanced society. When women in New York State began to organize for their rights in 1848, they took their cue from the nearby Haudenosaunee communities. Despite the assimilation policies of the United States, Haudenosaunee women still maintain much of this authority today.

The 2017 centennial of women’s suffrage in New York State opens the opportunity for us to explore this new—yet very old—and unknown history of our region. We invite you to join us on March 26 at 1pm for a talk given by Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner, Founding Director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation in Fayetteville, N.Y. Dr. Wagner holds one of the first doctorates awarded for work in women’s studies (UC Santa Cruz).

Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner

Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner

This program was made possible by funding from the Public Scholars program of the New York Council for the Humanities.  NYCH logo

 

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