PLEASE NOTE: The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House will be closed Sunday, April 1 and its Administrative Offices will be closed on Monday, April 2, 2018.
Regular Museum and Office hours resume on Tuesday, April 3.
On Thursday, March 29, Deborah L. Hughes will present Interpreting a 19th Century Icon for the 21st Century: The National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House at Arizona State University, Institute for Humanities Research, Tempe, Arizona. That afternoon she will talk about the challenges involved in running a museum dedicated to the women’s rights icon and that is itself an historical landmark. She will also discuss the museum’s efforts to make its collections more accessible to 21st century audiences.
Hughes is president, CEO, and executive director of the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House in Rochester, New York, a position she’s held since 2007. Hughes has a degree in religious studies from University of Oregon and a graduate degree from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.
The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House interprets the legacy of the great reformer to inspire and challenge individuals to make a positive difference in their lives and communities. We preserve and share the National Historic Landmark that was her home and headquarters, collect and exhibit artifacts related to her life and work, and offer tours and interpretive programs to share her story with the world.
“To find inspiration in an historical figure is a complex task. In a sense, we create a phantom person for our modern purposes out of the odd bits of her life that we value. We craft a memory that connects us across time to a person or events, trying to be true to both spheres—our world and hers. It’s an exercise that works best when our imaginations are informed by solid historical information.”
Ann D. Gordon
Research Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University
One of the important roles of the Anthony Museum is to be a resource for those seeking historical information about Susan B. Anthony’s life and work. We received many inquiries about her position in regard to abortion when Anthony was featured in a skit on Saturday Night Live! Because the set of the NBC skit included a remarkable likeness of the front parlor of 17 Madison Street AND named the Susan B. Anthony House, audiences assumed that we had been consulted on the contents. Actually, we had no idea that this skit was in the works. (If you would like to read more about our interpretation of Susan B. Anthony on issues of reproductive freedom, read Misrepresenting Susan B. Anthony on Abortion.)
The morning after the 2016 Election, the L.A. Times published an article about the crowds that had gathered at Susan B. Anthony’s grave. The article introduced the question of racism in the suffrage movement, asserting that Anthony’s movement “fought for the voting rights of white women, excluding African Americans.” To support their argument, they included a “quote” attributed to Anthony. Unfortunately, it is a misquote that is repeated all over the Internet and through social media.
Susan B. Anthony did say something similar, but the correct wording and the context are critically important to our understanding.
Before the U.S. Civil War, Anthony was an activist with the American Anti-Slavery Society. Like Frederick Douglass, Anthony believed in a union where all citizens must have the right to vote. During the war, she and others organized the Women’s Loyal National League, which was the first women’s political organization to advocate for eliminating slavery by an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. They gathered more than 300,000 signatures on petitions for an amendment—a detail that was left out of the recent movie, Lincoln.
Following emancipation, they anticipated taking up the cause of voting rights for all. They founded the American Equal Rights Association in 1866, whose purpose was “to secure Equal Rights to all American citizens, especially the right of suffrage, irrespective of race, color or sex.”
Imagine Anthony’s indignation when she and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were privately approached by Wendell Phillips and Theodore Tilton to suspend work for universal suffrage, to concentrate on getting the vote for men of color only. Anthony’s biographer, Ida Husted Harper reports that Anthony responded that “she would sooner cut off her right arm before she would ever work for or demand the ballot for the black man and not the woman.” It was a betrayal to Susan B. Anthony to be asked to compromise on the issue of universal suffrage.
Shortly after this, Anthony and Frederick Douglass divided over the issue. Douglass believed that it was a matter of life and death to grant emancipated men the right to vote. Out of this disagreement has grown the perception that Anthony chose white women over all people of color, which is a misrepresentation. We only need to look at her words, “It is not a question of precedence between women & black men. Neither has a claim to precedence upon an Equal Rights platform. But the business of this association is to demand for every man black or white, & for every woman, black or white, that they shall be this instant enfranchised & admitted into the body politic with equal rights & privileges.”
There were certainly moments in the woman’s suffrage movement when the actions and words of the leaders betrayed their own racism and bigotry. At the Anthony Museum, we want to confront the ways in which Susan B. Anthony has been used to perpetuate racism, both in her time, and in ours. We want to recognize the ways in which the Anthony Museum might also be reinforcing bias and racism. We are energized by her challenge, “I want a union in fact, not a sham.”
Interpreting Susan B. Anthony’s life and work is as challenging as it has ever been, because Susan B. Anthony is as relevant today as she has ever been.
Each year, the Greater New York City Chamber of Commerce celebrates Women’s History Month with an awards reception recognizing influential women—including past honorees NYS Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. With this year’s theme “Celebrating Equality, Fairness, Respect & 100 Years of Voting Rights!,” we are pleased to announce that Deborah Hughes, president and CEO of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House, will be honored at the Chamber’s reception on March 22nd, along with honorees Jennifer Gold of the The Carlyle Group NY Center for Cybersecurity & Resilience; Sandra Wilkin of the Bradford Construction & Women’s Builders Council; and Dina Bakst & Sherry Leiwant, co-founders of A Better Balance.
The Women’s History Awards Reception will take place Thursday, March 22, 2018, from 6:00pm – 8:00 pm, at the General Society Library, 20 W. 44th Street, New York City.
Here is a link to the Greater New York City Chamber of Commerce event.
Rochester, NY – The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House will host a ceremonial wreath hanging on the front steps of 17 Madison Street, the National Historic Landmark that was Susan B. Anthony’s home and headquarters, on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 11:00 a.m.
The brief ceremony commemorates the 112th anniversary of Susan B. Anthony’s death and will include remarks by Anthony Museum President & CEO, Deborah L. Hughes.
This event is free and open to the public.
On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2018, Rochester, NY’s sister city, Rennes, France will dedicate a square to honor Susan B. Anthony. Susan B. Anthony was one of the founders of the International Council of Women, and was most interested in ensuring rights for women around the world.
On Saturday March 3, a delegation of 30 participants associated with the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House and the International Sister Cities of Rochester will gather at 17 Madison Street, the site of the Anthony Museum in Rochester, NY, to board a bus for Toronto. From there the group will fly to France to participate in the Rennes dedication.
In addition, on March 7, the Anthony Museum executive director & CEO Deborah L. Hughes will give a presentation on Susan B. Anthony and her quest for justice. You can read more about her presentation here.
The Anthony Museum will be sharing posts on Facebook & Twitter throughout the trip using the hashtag #SusanB-Rennes.
2018 also marks the 60th anniversary of the Rennes-Rochester Sister Cities program.
The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House
Noon to 1:30 pm
Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center
123 East Main Street • Rochester, New York
A New York World reporter once observed that Susan B. Anthony “kept the fun barometer way up! At the Annual Birthday Luncheon on February 14, 2018, there will be much to celebrate. This February 14th is bicentennial of the date that Frederick Douglass chose as his birthday and is a day before Susan B. Anthony’s 198th birthday on the 15th.
Along with celebrating the birthdays of these two human rights activists and friends, the Birthday Luncheon celebrates their accomplishments, reminds us of their unfinished work—and challenges us to “take the wheel.”
The keynote speaker for the 2018 Susan B. Anthony Birthday Luncheon will be Elaine Weiss, journalist and author of The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote, a narrative account of the dramatic climax of the woman’s suffrage movement, which will be published by Viking in March 2018.
“2018 is a bridge year between New York’s suffrage centennial in 2017 and the centennial of the 19th Amendment in 2020,” says Deborah L. Hughes, President & CEO of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House. “There is no better time to bring this scholar whose writings explore the road to women’s suffrage to our Rochester audience.”
Weiss’ first book, Fruits of Victory: The Woman’s Land Army in the Great War was excerpted in Smithsonian Magazine online, and featured on C-Span and public radio stations nationwide. Weiss has also given presentations at the Library of Congress, National Archives, Smithsonian Museum of American History, Hull House, the Chautauqua Institution, and many other major libraries, historical societies, and universities.
Reservations are now closed for the 2018 Luncheon, and we look forward to seeing you on February 14th!
September 18, 2017 A Monument to Woman—The Woman Suffrage Statue. Sandra Weber, author and historian
November 13, 2017 Unknown Frederick Douglass: The Life & Times of New Washington City. John H. Muller, DC Public Library, author, historian
December 4, 2017 Woman Suffrage & the New York Constitutional Conventions of 1846 & 1867-68. Dr. Jenny Lloyd, History Professor Emerita, The College at Brockport
Women’s History Month special Tea – March 5, 2018 Margaret Fuller, the “Marriage Question,” & the Culture of Reform. T. Gregory Garvey, Professor of English, College at Brockport. This presentation is SOLD OUT.
May 7, 2018 Funding Feminism: Following the Money in the Woman Suffrage Movement. Dr. Joan Marie Johnson, historian
June 18, 2018 Spiritualists, Suffragists, & Other Nasty Women of the Mid-19th Century. Dr. Amy Lehman, Associate Professor, Theater and Dance, University of South Carolina
Each presentation is offered in our Carriage House as a noon luncheon ($30 individual reservation) or 2 pm informal tea ($15 individual reservation), except for our Women’s History Month presentation on March 5, 2018, which will only be offered as a lecture and tea ($25).
Reservations are available here.