When you think of national parks, one can think of a range of places. If you are like me, the first ones to jump into mind are spectacular natural wonders. Yet about half of all National Park Service sites were created specifically to protect the human history of the United States. Almost every park examines its human history but not all were created to specifically protect its human history. When you look at the list of sites, a few things jump out. You will find sites dedicated to forts, military battles, and people. Women have a rich history in the United States. Their fingerprints can be found through history if you know where to look. Many of their stories have been lost to a previous time where the role of women was restricted. There are currently 419 National Park Service sites in the United States, only 10 sites are dedicated to women.
Sites on this list are sites specifically focused on women or dedicated to a specific woman in history. There are many sites where women played an important role in the site but the site is not dedicated to them. These can include the Oak Ridge Unit of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Women were in charge of monitoring the enrichment of uranium during World War II. Another site is the Lowell National Historical Park, the workforce of the textile mills was mostly young women. These are just a few sites where women played a significant role. Also not included on this list are national parks where women spearheaded the movement to protect them. We will be doing a separate list to honor these women.
As I was researching for this article I found discovered an interesting fact. Two sites are dedicated to the women’s rights movement, four sites are dedicated to honoring African-American women, two are dedicated to the wives of presidents and two others are to an organization founded by women or women in the workforce.
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- National Parks Dedicated to the fight for Women’s Rights
- National Parks Dedicated to African American Women
- National Parks Dedicated to Women
- Clara Barton National Historic Site
- Rosie the Riveter-World War II Home Front National Historical Park
- First Ladies National Historic Site
- Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site
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National Parks Dedicated to the fight for Women’s Rights
Women’s Rights National Historical Park
Women’s Rights National Historical Park honors the early women rights activists. Over an afternoon of tea, five women were lamenting their role in society. Lucretia Mott, Mary Ann M’Clintock, Martha Wright, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Jane Hunt decided it was time to hold a convention on women’s rights. They didn’t delay. 10 days after than afternoon tea, the Seneca Falls Convention was held. This two-day convention was held on July 19-20, 1848 in Wesleyan Chapel. This convention created the Declaration of Sentiments and laid the foundation for the fight for women’s rights in the United States.
Women’s Rights National Historical Park is located in Seneca Falls and Waterloo, New York. The site is made up of four historical sites – the remains of the Wesleyan Chapel, Elizabeth Cady Station House, M’Clintock House, and the Richard Hunt House.
Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument
Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument protects the current headquarters of the National Woman’s Party. The National Woman’s Party was a leading organization in the fight for women’s suffrage and later women’s rights issues. The monument consists of a historic house and museum. The museum covers the US suffrage and equal rights movements. The site was purchased in 1929 when the National Woman’s Party’s previous headquarters was acquired by eminent domain and razed. The garden walkways are paved with the bricks from the original headquarters.
The house is named in honor of Ava Vanderbilt Belmont and Alice Paul. Belmont was a wealthy donor who provides the funds to buy and renovate the house. Alice Paul was the leader of the National Woman’s Party. She led events such as the Silent Sentinels, for two and half years women protested outside the White House for the right to vote. Paul lived and worked in the house for many years.
The Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument is located in Washington, DC. Guided tours are offered Wednesday through Sunday at 9:30 AM, 11:00 AM, 2:00 PM, and 3:30 PM. The site is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
National Parks Dedicated to African American Women
Harriet Tubman is the only person to have TWO national park service sites dedicated to their life. Harriet Tubman was born a slave in 1822 in Dorchester County, Maryland. She was beaten many times as a child. One of those beating inflicted a serious head injury which would cause dizziness, pain and excessive sleeping throughout her life. At the age of 27, she escaped to Philadelphia. Once there, she started returning to Maryland and helping other slaves escape to the Free States and after 1850 to Canada. Over 11 years, Tubman helped at least 130 other slaves escape to freedom. She personally led about 70 of them to freedom.
During the Civil War, she served in a range of roles from cook and nurse to armed scout and spy. She guided the Combahee Ferry Raid and liberated over 700 slaves. After the war, she joined the women’s suffrage movement until illness forced her retirement. She died on March 10, 1913, as an American Hero.
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument covers 480 acres of land in Cambridge, Windy Hill and Preston, Maryland. The monument is made up of three main sections. The Harriet Tubman Byway is an auto trail that follows Tubman’s early life and her work rescuing slaves. The Harriet Tubman Museum and Education Center is dedicated to her story and further research into her life. The final site is the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. She often used the area to hide out when rescuing people from slavery.