Interpreting Susan B. Anthony for Our Times

Susan B. Anthony—still controversial after all these years

“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.

Greater New York City Chamber of Commerce Honors Deborah L. Hughes and the Anthony Museum

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.

Wreath Ceremony Commemorates Susan B. Anthony’s Death and Legacy

National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House Commemorates  Susan B. Anthony’s Death and Legacy

 

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.

Rennes France to Honor Susan B. Anthony

Rennes, France to Honor Susan B. Anthony

Delegation to represent Rochester and the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House

 

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.

Election Coverage November 2016 Media Round Up

For over a week, there were fifteen media outlets including all of the Rochester network affiliates – 8, 10, and 13, Time Warner Cable News, the Democrat & Chronicle as well as national and international media including the New York Times, CNN, and the BBC came or called to the home where Susan B. Anthony lived and worked for over 40 years.

Before the election, CNN Digital sent reporter Tiara Chiaromonte to interview Deborah Hughes the weekend before the election. The CNN digital interview went “viral” with more than 60,000 viewers seeing it on our Facebook page and over SIX MILLION viewers at CNN: http://ow.ly/WkqQ306y0HZ

Also during the week leading up to the election, Susan B. Anthony Museum & House President & CEO Deborah Hughes was interviewed by nyupstate.com from Syracuse and Channel 4 from Buffalo: http://ow.ly/KDa5306y0Op

 

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One of the more poignant interviews during the week leading up to the election was conducted by Berkely Brean of Channel 10.  Brean interviewed Dr. Ruth Scott, Lois Geiss, and Deborah Hughes in the Attic of 17 Madison Street, the home of Susan B. Anthony. Dr. Scott served on the Rochester City Council from 1977-89. In 1986, Dr. Scott was elected as the Council’s first President. Scott’s leadership was instrumental as the City moved from a City Manager form of government to a directly elected mayor.  Lois Geiss also served as Rochester City Council President. Anthony Museum & House President & CEO Deborah Hughes pointed out that the third floor of the house, known as the garret or attic, the location of the interview was dedicated to the woman’s suffrage movement.

On Election Day there was a flurry of activity at the Museum! From New York City, came a reporter and photographer from the New York Times.   The journalists were part of a news team of female journalists who were sent to various locations around the country to report the events of the day. http://ow.ly/nwsx306y1dU

At the end of a very busy day, reporter Solina Lewis from Channel 8 interviewed Deborah Hughes and also did a live report from our parking lot for the 6:00 p.m. News.

View all media coverage

Democrat & Chronicle http://ow.ly/bPN8306y2zC

WROC-TV 8 http://ow.ly/Nwkc306y284  and http://ow.ly/m7mB306y2e9

Live Coverage of gravesite http://ow.ly/8rnZ306y2Uq

WHAM-TV 13 http://ow.ly/mH5y306y2K4

WXXI-TV http://ow.ly/ZfNa306y3je

BBC http://ow.ly/HpsC306y3yw

Talk of the Town http://ow.ly/lvSy306y3IG

Time Warner Cable News http://ow.ly/OpUI306y4az and http://ow.ly/eBAr306y4bu

Huffington Post  http://ow.ly/zFtj306y4BX

 

 

Anthony Museum Raises Concern over Continued Misuse of Anthony’s Name and Legacy

Rochester, NY – In light of recent events in the world of American politics, the National Susan B Anthony Museum & House today reiterated its nonpartisan educational mission to inspire and challenge individuals, through Susan B Anthony’s life and work, to make a positive difference in their lives and communities.

 

Today, presidential candidate, Donald Trump, announced his intention to create a “pro-life coalition” headed by Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List. This coalition would work to support Mr. Trump’s previously declared commitments to the anti-abortion movement and to encourage voter turnout in key battleground states. The Susan B. Anthony List is a 501(c)(4) organization. Along with its affiliated political action committee, the SBA List Candidate Fund, this organization has long raised concerns for the Anthony Museum and those dedicated to protecting the legacy of the great reformer. Neither organization is in any way affiliated or in partnership with the National Susan B Anthony Museum & House.

 

“Not only does the Museum maintain a nonpartisan perspective,” said president and CEO, Deborah L. Hughes, “but it would not be in keeping with Susan B. Anthony’s legacy to endorse a political candidate. We are pleased that this once-reviled woman has earned such a high place of honor and authority that individuals and organizations seek her as their champion, but the National Susan B Anthony Museum & House is here to tell the authentic story of her life and work, rather than to use her name for a political agenda.”

 

The National Susan B Anthony Museum & House, a 501(c)(3) educational entity, is dedicated to preserving and interpreting Anthony’s life and work in a historically accurate and responsible manner. It is not affiliated with any other organization bearing the name of Susan B Anthony.

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Please send any inquiries re: this statement to president & CEO, Deborah L. Hughes.

Job Opening at the Anthony Museum

Volunteer Coordinator

National Susan B Anthony Museum & House

Position Description

 

Position Profile:

The National Susan B Anthony Museum & House preserves the National Historic Landmark where the great reformer lived for forty of her most politically active years, collects and exhibits artifacts related to her life and work, and offers programs through its Learning Center that challenge individuals to make a positive difference in their lives and communities.

The Volunteer Coordinator is responsible for an effective museum volunteer program designed to support a high quality visitor experience.

 

Principal Responsibilities:

1. Recruits, interviews, trains, and certifies museum volunteers

2. Develops training materials and other volunteer resources (in collaboration with Educator)

3. Fills, maintains, posts, and distributes the volunteer schedule

4. Produces a volunteer newsletter monthly (in collaboration with Communications staff)

5. Acts as liaison between volunteers and staff to facilitate good relations and communications

6. Develops and facilitates educational programs in collaboration with the Program Director or CEO

7. Assists in planning and securing volunteer staffing for educational and group programs

8. Facilitates volunteer enrichment programs and volunteer meetings

9. Plans the volunteer recognition program

10. Corresponds with volunteers as part of institutional outreach and goodwill toward volunteers

11. Attends weekly staff meetings to provide input on volunteer program and maintain communication with colleagues

12. Serves as “Visitor Center Manager” at the Visitor Center for designated shifts

 

Reports to: President and CEO

Employment Status: Part-time, Hourly

This position is budgeted for 19 hours per week, including 5-8 hours of “Visitor Center Manager” time.

 

To apply, send cover letter and resume with references to:

President & CEO

National Susan B Anthony Museum & House

17 Madison Street

Rochester, NY 14608

Anthony Museum Announces “VoteTilla” Event to Mark Suffrage Centennial

Rochester, NY – The National Susan B Anthony Museum & House has begun major plans to commemorate the centennial of woman suffrage in New York State in 2017. VoteTilla – a weeklong navigational celebration – will take place along the Erie Canal from July 16 – 22, 2017. A core group of canal boats will set out from Seneca Falls and travel to Rochester, with a concluding celebration at the Anthony Museum on Madison Street.

Throughout the week, VoteTilla boats will dock at several towns and villages along the route. Local residents and partner organizations are invited to share in the celebration by offering programming and excursions or by adding their own boats to the traveling fleet. Current partners include Bristol Valley Theatre, Canal Society of New York State, the City of Rochester, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, the RIT Women’s and Gender Studies Coordinating Committee, Rochester Museum & Science Center, Susan B Anthony Neighborhood Association, the Seward House, and the University of Rochester’s Susan B Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership.

Superintendent Ami Ghazala stated, “The National Park Service at Women’s Rights National Historical Park is thrilled to partner with women’s organizations in the Finger Lakes. We strive to bring attention to historical and current stories that highlight the diversity of the United States.”

National Women’s Hall of Fame president Jeanne Giovannini stated, “This consortium will strengthen the ties and collaboration among these cultural and historical organizations, helping to bring national and international attention to the Finger Lakes Region for its significance and place in our nation’s history in the promotion of human rights.”

“VoteTilla will be a vivid reminder of the work and cooperation required to secure the vote for women,” says Anthony Museum president & CEO, Deborah L Hughes. “Educational, historical, and civic organizations and community members of all ages can come together to host events, greet the passing boats, and participate in special events, on both land and water.”

The VoteTilla celebration immediately follows both the July 4th Bicentennial Celebration of the New York State Canals and the Convention Days weekend in Seneca Falls.

For information on partnering with the Anthony Museum for this special event, please email or call our office at 585/279-7490.