March is Women’s
Why is it important to study women’s history?
Women’s history isn’t just about women or for women—it’s an important part of
understanding the history of New York State as a whole.
Women have played an important role in New York State history, helping to shape
our laws and culture to what it is today. Progress has not come easily—women have
had to fight for their rights, including the right to go to school, to own property, to earn
and keep their wages, to have a say in forming laws, and to vote in elections, also
known as suffrage.
Women make history in New York State. The women’s
suffrage movement was born in the heart of New York State, when the first women’s rights
convention was held in Seneca Falls on July 19 and 20, 1848. Women and men from across
the country got together to discuss the best way to secure women the basic rights they
deserved as human beings. A second convention was held in Rochester a month later, and
a third was held in Syracuse in 1852.
A few New York women of note...
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)
This native of Johnstown, N.Y., led the women’s rights movement, which began in
Central New York. She was instrumental in organizing the first women’s rights
convention in Seneca Falls and spent much of her time traveling throughout the
country and around the world, fighting for women’s rights.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
This lifelong New Yorker and First Lady of the United States from 1933-1945 was a prominent
author, speaker, politician, activist and human rights advocate. She tirelessly fought to improve
conditions for disadvantaged Americans and drafted the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)
Anthony, who moved to New York from Massachusetts when she was 6 years old, became
one of the most noted women’s rights activists in U.S. history. She collaborated with Elizabeth
Cady Stanton on the Seneca Falls convention and gave 75 to 100 speeches per year on women’s
rights for almost 50 years.
Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005)
Born in Brooklyn to immigrant parents, Chisholm was a Member of the NYS Assembly and became
the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress, serving from 1968 until her retirement in 1982.
Throughout her career she worked to improve opportunities for inner-city residents and focused on
education and healthcare reforms.
Harriet Tubman (c.1820-1913)
Tubman escaped slavery in Maryland in 1849 and went on to become a vital part of the Underground
Railroad. She risked her life countless times, venturing back into slave territory and guiding more
than 70 slaves to freedom. In 1859 she purchased land in Auburn, N.Y., where she lived until her
death in 1913.
Hillary Rodham Clinton (1947– )
In 2008, Clinton was appointed the 67th U.S. Secretary of State by President Obama. She was
the first female U.S. Senator to represent New York (2001–2009) and First Lady of the U.S. from
1992 until 2000. Clinton’s election to Congress marked the first time an American First Lady ran
for public office.
Dr. Mary Edwards Walker (1832–1919)
Born on a farm in Oswego, N.Y., Walker challenged social norms by receiving her medical
degree in 1855 from Syracuse University, and was a surgeon in the Civil War. In 1865, she
became the first—and only—woman to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for her
services during the Civil War.
Sonia Sotomayor (1954– )
Born and raised in the Bronx, Sotomayor knew from the age of 10 that she wanted to go to law
school. She was valedictorian of her high school class and graduated from Princeton University
and Yale Law School before working as a lawyer and a judge in New York City. In May 2009,
President Obama nominated Sotomayor for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. She is the
Court’s 111th justice, as well as its first Hispanic and third female justice.
Women’s History Month Art Contest
In the space provided, draw a picture of a New York woman you admire and then explain
in the space below why this woman is a good role model for all New Yorkers.
Jumble solutions: 1.Suffrage, 2.Seneca Falls, 3.Education, 4.Ratify, 5.Liberty, 6.Equality, 7.Empowerment, 8.Honor
Crossword answers across: 1. Seneca Falls, 3. Chisholm, 4. Sotomayor, 6. Walker, 7. Tubman, 8. Roosevelt
Crossword answers down: 1. Suffrage, 2. Clinton, 4. Senator, 5. Yale