Where will you make history? For some impactful women of the past, it was in the comfort of their own homes, while for others, it was in their workplace. Today, there are dozens of historic sites across America, meant to honor and commemorate the incredible feats made by women throughout history. From homes to churches to museums, the following list of destinations are preserved to remind us of the impact women have made on our country. Consider making a stop at one of these sites during your domestic travels*.
1. Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York
Seneca Falls is the site of numerous buildings and landmarks that honor the suffragist movement, including the Wesleyan Church, which was the site of the first women's rights convention: the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention. The first of its kind, this organized event drew attention to the inequalities faced by women and launched the fight for increased freedoms for women, including the women’s right to vote.
2. Rosie the Riveter/World War II National Historical Park in Richmond, California
When men were called to serve abroad in World War II, roughly six million women entered the workforce in their place. This museum honors the female factory workers that kept the American spirit alive at home, while the war waged on. This influx of women in the workforce started the societal shift in attitudes toward women in the workplace.
3. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway in Maryland
This scenic drive along Maryland’s coast traces the route Harriet Tubman traveled thirteen times to escort over 70 slaves to freedom in the north via the Underground Railroad. Along the drive, there are 30 sites worth noting, as they served as secret meeting places, rescue and escape locations, or stations along the trek. Download the audio guide to your phone for a self-guided tour that guides you through each stop on the route.
4. Kate Mullany House in Troy, New York
At age 23, Kate Mullany, an Irish immigrant, founded the Collar Laundry Union. This was America’s first sustained all-female union and fought for higher wages and safer working conditions for female workers at the nation's first commercial laundry (located in Troy). Later, she was the first woman elected as vice-president to the office of the National Labor Union.
5. Mary McLeod Bethune Council House Historic Site in Washington, D.C.
In this home in 1935, Mary McLeod Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women. Both the council and Mary were at the forefront of efforts to further the rights of African American women. Mary advised four presidents on African American interests, and President Roosevelt appointed her to Director of the Division of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration from 1936 to 1944. This made her the highest ranking African American woman in government at the time.
6. Rankin Ranch in Avalanche Gulch, Montana
A National Historic Landmark, this site shows that even boss babes need a place to find peace every now and then! Rankin Ranch served as the summertime escape for Jeanette Rankin, the first female member of Congress. During her time in politics, she was a champion of peace and social justice, and played a crucial role in passing the 19th Amendment. She is quoted as having said, “I want to be remembered as the only woman who ever voted to give women the right to vote.”
7. Ida B. Wells-Barnett House in Chicago, Illinois
Ida B. Wells was a leader in the civil rights movement and cofounder of the NAACP. This site is where Ida called home, and likely where she wrote her anti-lynching piece "Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases.” It was her fearlessness in publishing this piece that inspired anti-lynching activism in others.
8. Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington, D.C.
This site was more recently designated a National Monument, in 2016, for its place in history as the headquarters for the National Woman’s Party for 90 years. The home is named for Alice Paul and Alva Belmont, co-founders of the National Woman’s Party. Since 1929 the home has been considered the headquarters of the National Woman's Party and their efforts to pass legislation supporting women’s rights (including the 19th Amendment).
9. Pauli Murray Center in Durham, North Carolina
Pauli Murray was a diverse historical figure central to many movements, including: women’s rights, civil rights, African American rights, and LGBTQ rights. Today, the Pauli Murray Center operates exhibits, community dialogues, visual and performing arts, activism and writing workshops at the Center, in an effort to connect history to contemporary human rights issues. The Center operates in her honor as a place that is open and welcoming to people from all walks of life, as Pauli would have wanted it.
10. The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester, New York
A legendary suffragette and civil rights activist, Susan B. Anthony was a key player in the fight for women’s equal right to vote. She was arrested at this home for illegally voting in 1872, and it served as the headquarters of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
11. The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, Michigan
The bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in 1955 was cast aside in an Alabama field before it was restored and added to the Henry Ford Museum. While the artifacts that surround it in the museum highlight various advances in technology, this piece of history embodies cultural advancement.
12. Lowell National Historic Park in Lowell, Massachusetts
This site marks the start of New England’s textile industry, one of the first industries to start hiring women. A rare practice in the days of America’s Industrial Revolution, this form of employment gave these women an opportunity to live a more financially independent life.
13. Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York
From politicians to troubled youth, Eleanor Roosevelt hosted a diverse range of guests at her home, which would become the first National Historic Site devoted to a First Lady. Eleanor was an active humanitarian and advocate for social justice, earning herself the nickname “First Lady of the World.” The home, called Val-Kill, now includes the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill. If you are unable to visit in person, you can visit the site via virtual tour.
14. Clara Barton National Historic Site in Glen Echo, Maryland
The first headquarters for the American Red Cross were located at the home of its founder, Clara Barton. With three stories and thirty rooms, its structure is evidence of Clara’s dedication and desire to help others.
15. Maggie L Walker National Historic Site in Richmond, Virginia
The home of Maggie L. Walker honors her success as an African American entrepreneur in the fields of banking and finance. An inspiration to African Americans and women of her era, Maggie became the first woman to be the president of a bank in the United States. This site is also available for virtual tour, viewable here.
*Visit the resective web links to stay up-to-date on visiting information for these locations in light of Covid-19 closures and health orders.