Ex-Feminist For Life VP Named Anthony Birthplace Director
iBerkshires fileThe Anthony Birthplace on East Road in Adams has been undergoing restoration for more than two years.
Carol Crossed, president of the museum's board of directors, said the selection of Sally Winn, author of "Refuse to Choose: Reclaiming Feminist" and frequent speaker at colleges, was indicative of the museum's need to focus on external communication as it prepares to open this winter.
"We are grounded and rooted in history, we have 10 exhibits that are near completion ... now it's a matter of promoting the museum and educating the public about Susan B. Anthony," said Crossed on Wednesday. "Since 2010 is the 90th anniversary of the Anthony [19th] Amendment; it's a very appropriate time to take it to a new level."
Winn replaces Martha Dailey, a historian, researcher and former director of the Bidwell House Museum who worked part time as site manager for a year at the Anthony Birthplace before being hired as full-time director in June.
Crossed did not say why Dailey was being replaced after six months other than it was "critical to have someone with her experience" during the museum's restoration and the development and research of the exhibits. Dailey could not be reached for comment.
"Martha's done an incredible job in taking [the museum] to the level it is," she said. "She was the best choice at that time. We've gone into a new phase and Sally is perfect for us now."
Winn, who begins her post in January, has no experience in operating a teaching museum, but Crossed said her strengths lie in administration and connections for fund raising.
"She certainly has administration experience as operations director of the Crittenton Center," said Crossed. "Part of communication is getting our message out that will attract donors. We know have a museum that it will be up and running; now its education and [Anthony's] legacy."
However, she confirmed Winn was a candidate for the spot even before Dailey was hired but Winn was reluctant to move her teen daughters from school.
Winn was most recently at the Florence Crittenton Center for Pregnant and Parenting Teens in Helena, Mont., and is a former vice president of Feminists for Life, which has adopted Anthony as a symbol based on writings they believe to show her anti-abortion sentiments.
Crossed is a founder of the Feminists for Life New York chapter and purchased the Anthony house in 2006 for $164,000 at auction on its behalf. At the time, town leaders were both pleased someone had stepped forward to buy the house but concerned abortion politics would be its focus.
But over the next three years, a coalition of residents, historians and Anthony family descendants gathered around Crossed to work to restore the home as close to its original condition when Anthony's father built it in 1818. The museum explores not only her later writings but the influences of her earliest years, including her father's entrepreneurship.
That won't change under Winn, said Crossed, but neither will Anthony's writing on abortion be ignored.
"We have pro-life articles and statements, those kinds of things are going to be one-tenth of the museum," she said. "That is a particular part of her legacy that is unsettled, that attention will be drawn to ... we're not going to censor her comments in that regards."
A ribbon-cutting is planned on Sunday, Feb. 14, followed by an address in the Adams Library Memorial Room by state Sen. Marian Walsh of West Roxbury.