Susan B. Anthony a Popular Ask for Women's Rights History Trail
ADAMS, Mass. — A statewide Women's Rights History Trail is in the works and community members want to make sure that Adams, the birthplace of Susan B. Anthony, has a stop.
A popular suggestion was the town's monument of the suffragette built in 2020.
State Rep. Paul Mark and state Rep. Mindy Domb of Amherst hosted a listening session at the Adams Theater on Tuesday to hear what locals would like to see included. This was the first of four hearings to be held across the state.
Selectmen Chair Christine Hoyt explained that the statue depicting Anthony at 6 years old was built so that people could interact with it.
"There are a lot of people who have come before me who have done excellent work to make sure that that memory of Susan B. Anthony and her upbringing, at least up to the age of 6, was here in the town of Adams and we celebrate that," Hoyt said.
Lifelong resident and Selectman Joseph Nowak said he did not think much about the town's history but once he learned the significance of Anthony's story it "really hit home."
"We put together a committee here in Adams to fundraise in order to get the statue where it is now," he said. "Our goals were aggressive. We were looking for $300,000. Nobody thought we could do it and we did it."
Mark and Domb serve as co-chairs of the 16-member Women's Rights History Trail Task Force that was created in 2022 following former Gov. Charlie Baker's signing of Chapter 76 of the Acts of 2022 into law. The bill was first filed in 2017 by the late North Adams state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi.
The task force will be considering locations that are historically and thematically associated with the fight for women's rights and women's suffrage.
"It started out very simply with legislation in 2014 about how she wanted to recognize Susan B. Anthony and other leaders in the state of Massachusetts, and it ends up going to be in the country, too, and why it was so important that they be recognized not only just as women who have done a lot of leadership but have made a difference and left their impact," state Rep. John Barrett III of North Adams said.
"And what started in 2014 and took I guess nine years, we'll say nine years, close to nine years, before we were able to get this legislation passed, and needless to say, those that know me know that I was getting a little hot under the collar as I couldn't understand it but like a fine wine, it became better with age and it aged out very well in the sense that we were able to grow this into something far beyond what [Cariddi] would have ever believed and how proud she must be at what is happening in this state today."
He said starting the sessions in Anthony's hometown is also important because in this case, efforts are starting west and going east.
"One last piece of symbolism: Today is the 19th, much like the 19th Amendment," Mark said, referencing the amendment that gave women the right to vote.
The 1782 Quaker Meeting House, which is deemed the most historic landmark in Adams and at which Anthony's family worshipped, was also suggested because the Quakers believe that men and women are equal in God's eyes.
Resident Diane Parsons made several suggestions for the trail including a stop for civil rights pioneer Elizabeth Freeman in Sheffield. Last year, a monument was unveiled on the 241st anniversary of the day she won her freedom from slavery in a landmark court case.
Mark said legislators will ensure that Massachusetts remember that the state's borders go to New York and that all of the communities are important.
"The entire state needs to be highlighted in all activities," he said.
Domb reminded attendees that even if they have a particular person in mind for the trail, there needs to be an associated site.
"The suggestions for the trail are in statute so they are pretty firm in terms of what the task force needs to present to the administration for their consideration," she said.
The last listening session will be held at the beginning of October and as a task force, the panel has to generate a report by the end of the year.
Tags: Susan B. Anthony, women's history,