By Whitney Stohr
Late last month, the outdoor and sporting gear retailer REI made headlines with the announcement that the store would remain closed on Black Friday. Rather than opening their doors on Friday morning to crowds of door-busting, deal-hunters, REI is encouraging people to forego the year’s biggest shopping tradition and, instead, #OptOutside.
REI President and CEO, Jerry Stritzke, explained: “We’re a different kind of company — and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently. We’re choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us.”
For those planning to spend the day in the great outdoors, why not make your adventure an educational one?!? Here are six options to #OptOutside while learning more about women’s suffrage history.
1. Boston, Massachusetts
Dress warm, Bostonians, for a walk on the Women’s Heritage Trail. The self-guided “Ladies Walk” honors three important historical figures: Abigail Adams, who famously reminded her husband and Founding Father John Adams to “remember the ladies,” Phillis Wheatley, the first published African-American female poet, and suffragist Lucy Stone, founder of the American Woman Suffrage Association’s Women’s Journal.
For more information about the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail and stops on the Ladies Walk, visit: http://bwht.org/ladies-walk/.
2. Occoquan, Virginia
Nestled along the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail in Northern Virginia lies Occoquan Regional Park, a 400-acre recreational space, which will soon undergo a planned redevelopment, and future site of the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial. When complete, the memorial, near the site of the original Occoquan Workhouse where suffragists were imprisoned and beaten for picketing the White House, will be a noteworthy addition to the park’s new cultural area.
Learn more about Occoquan Regional Park at http://www.nvrpa.org/park/occoquan/.
(Not in Northern Virginia? Check out the other trails forming the expansive Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail at: http://www.nps.gov/pohe/.)
3. Portland, Oregon
Whether rain or shine, Portland’s Washington Park offers a nice outdoor space to spend the day. Be sure to visit the bronze monument to Sacajawea, the nation’s first, designed by sculptor Alice Cooper and paid for with funds raised by local suffragist Sarah Evans and other women. Present at the 1905 unveiling were prominent suffragists Susan B. Anthony, Abigail Scott Duniway, and Eva Emery Dye.
Learn more about Washington Park and the Sacajawea monument at: http://bit.ly/1JN8YYu.
4. Seneca Falls, New York
In 1848, a group of over 300 women’s rights advocates traveled to Seneca Falls to attend the country’s first Woman’s Rights Convention. On Friday, as you walk around town, let your mind travel back in time to the birth of the women’s rights movement.
Stop by the Visitor Center at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park to learn more about the 1848 Convention and the related Declaration of Sentiments. Continue your walk to the Wesleyan Chapel where the Convention was held, and on to the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, former home of the suffrage pioneer.
Visit the Women’s Rights National Historical Park website for more information: http://www.nps.gov/wori/index.htm.
5. Spokane, Washington
On the morning of June 28, 1909, a group of suffragists stepped off a Northern Pacific Railroad train in Spokane. The ladies were traveling to the National American Woman Suffrage Association convention in Seattle and were welcomed at the train depot by local suffragists Emma Smith Devoe, president of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association, May Arkwright Hutton and La Reine Baker. (Learn more about the suffragists’ time in Washington State here.)
Leaving the Northern Pacific Depot, the suffragists visited the Spokane Chamber of Commerce, the Amateur Athletic Club, and the historic Davenport Hotel. Commemorate the suffragists’ 1909 visit as you wander through downtown Spokane, or when hiking the nearby Spokane River Centennial Trail, formed from several of the city’s historic and abandoned railroad rights-of-way.
6. Washington, D.C.
Thanks to the National Women’s History Museum, those visiting our nation’s capital over the Thanksgiving holiday can spend the day trekking across the city in search of historic sites. Luckily, the
museum has created a self-guided tour, called “In Their Footsteps: Woman Suffrage Historic Sites in Washington, D.C.,” with stops at Pennsylvania Avenue, the U.S. Capitol Building and White House, and the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, former headquarters of the National Woman’s Party.
To access the complete self-guided tour, visit the National Women’s History Museum website: http://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/activities/womans-suffrage-tours.
How will you #optoutside for women’s suffrage history?
Historic sites abound! Much of the day-to-day advocacy on behalf of women’s suffrage happened in cities and towns across the country. Each state has its own local heroes, pillars of the suffrage movement. While this list offers several options, there are no doubt many other ways to #optoutside for women’s suffrage history.
How do you plan to #optoutside this Friday? Let us know in the comment section below!
(1) Becker, P. 2008. Prominent suffragists arrive in Spokane on June 28, 1909. HistoryLink.org.
(2) Sacagawea Historical Society. Historical Landmarks. Sacagawea-biography.org/.
Whitney Stohr is Social Media Chair for the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association and a member of the organization’s Media and Marketing Committee. Find her online at http://www.linkedin.com/in/whitneystohr/and twitter @WStHendricks.