Sunday, October 6, 2013

Seneca Falls Field Trip

          The chill of an early September morning awoke the group of forty of us, comprised mostly of college students and a few faculty and staff members from the Center for Women's Studies.  As we made the drive on the coach bus towards Seneca Falls, NY, the birthplace of the women's rights movement, I recalled my last visit to the small Upstate New York town.  I had last seen the homes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Harriet Tubman on a Girl Scout trip in the fourth grade.  Then too young to quite understand the importance of these women, all I remembered was the disappointment I felt as I walked through those small, old, unfurnished homes.  Upon hearing that our Women's Studies class was taking a field trip to this same location, I could only recall those lack-luster rooms.  I thought to myself, I understand we've been learning about these women and have read a number of their works, and I respect the progress they made, but those houses are not much to see.   However, what I did not consider were the changes that had occurred in my own life since then.  Now I am a young adult, far more aware of the prejudices and social conventions that surround me.  In addition, since taking Intro to Women's Studies, I have also become more educated on the struggle for women's rights.  This is a movement and a history that is sorely under appreciated, and in my opinion, not taught enough to young students.
         We entered Stanton's home and stood in the living room where Stanton first met with other revolutionary women of her time and began to plan a convention that would forever change the lives of women in the United States.  It was then that I realized the intention of us going on this trip, for however early we woke up and however much homework we all had on our minds, there was nothing more empowering and humbling than being in Stanton's house and imagining all of those women who we are forever indebted to.
          It is not always about the sights, the smells, the largest paintings hung on the walls of a museum, or the size of a gift shop.  What it really comes down to is immersing yourself in history and applying it to your life, for one must consider what these ordinary people sacrificed in order to better the lives of others.  That is when true understanding and appreciation can occur.

-Natalie Krause '17


  1. After reading this reflection piece on the Seneca Falls Trip, I have an even further appreciation of my own experience that day. The way that the personal effect of visiting this historical landmark changes with age truly exemplifies its significance. As suggested, it is not always the sights that leave an impression on the viewer, but rather it is the notion of what these buildings used to house, and the spirit of the women who lived in them. We would not live in the society we do today without the history of Seneca Falls, and visiting this location simply reminds us of that.

  2. I completely agree that on a materialistic level, the two houses on our trip were not all that much to see, but that at our age and with the education we have now, we were able to appreciate the historical sites so much just by immersing ourselves and through personal reflection. I also think it's awesome that Natalie had the opportunity to visit the houses at such a young age, I know personally I had no idea who Stanton was when I was in fourth grade. However, I feel that the fact that at such a young age she found the houses to be lack luster reflects the fact that many girls, especially the younger they are, are unaware of many aspects of women's history and the true struggle that continues to this day surrounding women's rights. It's hard to make youngsters appreciate many things concerning history, but I feel that small steps can be taken and should be taken to incorporate women's history appreciation into children's lives starting from as early an age as possible. This might not be best accomplished by throwing them straight into physical tours, but by building up an appreciation and a knowledge of women's history even if that as to be accomplished on a level as simple as showing films that depict the way women have been treated over the centuries compared to now. Because sexism and gender roles are so extremely significant in children's lives and can have huge roles shaping who they are and who they grow to become, it's important to raise awareness starting from as early an age as possible so that these children are able to follow the paths that they want to take, reducing the amount of constraint on their agencies.