Worcester Women's History Project to Open "Reclaiming Our Heritage" Exhibit
Exhibit showcasing life in Worcester in 1850 to run from June 19th to July 5th at YWCA.
June 12, 2000
Worcester, MA, June 12, 2000: An exhibit, "Reclaiming Our Heritage: Worcester Women's History, 1850," will be on display at the YWCA of Central Massachusetts, 1 Salem Square in Worcester, from June 19 to July 5, 2000. The exhibit was created by Carolyn Howe, Associate Professor of Sociology at College of the Holy Cross and President of the Worcester Women's History Project, with the assistance of seven students and several consultants. An opening reception for the exhibit, with remarks by Carolyn Howe, will be held Monday, June 19th from 4:00 to 5:30 at the YWCA.
The exhibit consists of ten door-size panels that depict several aspects of life in Worcester in 1850. Three centerpiece panels focus on the first National Woman's Rights Convention that was held in Worcester in 1850. Worcester was a center of abolitionist, woman's rights, and health reform activities in the mid-nineteenth century. It was an exciting place to live and it made an important mark on American history. However, few people -- even in Worcester -- know anything about this history. Worcester-area women, including two whose portraits now grace the walls of Mechanics Hall (Abby Kelley Foster and Lucy Stone) played a significant role in the nineteenth-century abolitionist and woman's rights movement. Both of these women, along with many others who spoke at the 1850 National Woman's Rights Convention, helped pave the way for women's equal access to education, to professions, to a political voice, and to personal relationships that empowered, rather than restricted or harmed women. The Worcester convention was important both as an event that launched the organized woman's rights movement and because of important resolutions that were passed, including a suffrage resolution calling for "equality before the law, without distinction of sex or color." The convention's commitment to equality for slave women (and men) as well as free women set it apart from other woman's rights conventions of the nineteenth century.
Most of the visual images and documents used for the exhibit are from the American Antiquarian Society, though information and images also come from the Worcester Historical Museum, the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, and the Clark University Cartography and Graphic Imaging department. The exhibit was funded by generous grants from the Worcester Cultural Commission, Greater Worcester Community Foundation, Marshall Fund, Hewlett Mellon Discretionary Fund, and College of the Holy Cross.