Philadelphia Women's History Trail
This trail includes monuments, historical markers, museums, and other historical and cultural sites that are primarily related to the history of women and gender.
Located in downtown Philadelphia is the Frances Ellen Watkins Harper House which was where poet, fiction writer, journalist, and activist Frances EW Harper spent her later days before passing away here in February 22, 1911. Born in Baltimore in 1825, she was the only child of free African American parents. After growing up in harsh conditions, she embarked on a career as a traveling speaker on the abolitionist circuit. She helped slaves escape through the Underground Railroad and wrote frequently for anti-slavery newspapers, working with Frederick Douglass and other reformers earning her a reputation as the mother of African American journalism. The house has since been named a National Historic Landmark and is only open to public during certain times.
Prior to becoming Dolley Madison in 1794, Dolley Todd and her first husband, John Todd, lived at this house from 1791-1793. This 18th century, 3-story, Georgian home was built in 1775 by John Dilworth. John Todd died in 1793 and, soon after, Dolley married James Madison. She remained in Philadelphia until the Madisons retired, temporarily, to the family estate at Montpelier in Virginia in 1797. The house is now part of the larger Independence National Historical Park. It has been restored to how it looked while it was occupied by the Todds with period artifacts and furniture. It is occasionally open as a house museum that provides a window into the life of a solidly middle-class, Philadelphia family at the end of the 18th century.
From 1965 to 1969, gay rights activists from Washington, DC, New York, and Philadelphia met each July 4th to picket in front of Independence Hall to demand legislation that would protect the rights of LGBT citizens. The event came to be known as the “Annual Reminder” that many American citizens were denied the basic rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. The events were commemorated in 2005 with the dedication of this historical marker across the street from Independence Hall.
The Betsy Ross House is a historic home in Philadelphia alleged to be the site where the first American flag was created. The Arch Street residence was built around 1740, and during the 1770s it was home to local upholsterer Elizabeth “Betsy” Ross. According to popular legend, Ross was asked to sew the first Stars and Stripes flag in 1777. Most scholars are highly doubtful that Betsy Ross actually made the first American flag; the story did not emerge until nearly a century later. Today the house has been restored and preserved as a museum. It is open to the public for tours, and contains a large collection of artifacts, documents, and memorabilia relating to both Betsy Ross and the story of her sewing the first flag.
Founded in 1977, the Fabric Workshop and Museum was established in order to give artists a space to experiment, as well as to bring the public face-to-face with the artistic process. Within its permanent collection, the Museum holds not just numerous works of art, but also ongoing research, fabric prototypes, videos of the creative processes behind these works, and more. Additionally, the Museum is one of a small number of museums that is part of the Artist-in-Residence Program. Today, the Museum works with artists from all sorts of backgrounds, and encourages artists and the public to experiment with new forms of materials and media.
On Sunday, April 25th, 1965, protesters in Philadelphia waged a sit-in in at Dewey's Restaurant after management began refusing service to homosexual patrons. The protest began when employees of Dewey’s Restaurant perceived that homosexual youth were patronizing the restaurant in such numbers as to discourage other customers from patronizing the restaurant. After attempting to discourage homosexual youth from congregating at the restaurant, management ordered employees to deny service to individuals they believed were homosexual. In response to this discriminatory treatment, activists organized a campaign that included as many as 150 protesters.
This public art installation outside the Philadephia City Hall building commemorates several of the city's innovators including John Bartram, William Camac, Mary Cassat, Rebecca Cole, Thomas Eakins, John Fitch, Benjamin Franklin, Francis Hopkinson and Betsy Ross.
Joan of Arc Statue is a gilded bronze equestrian sculpture of Joan of Arc by Emmanuel Frémiet. Bought by the Fairmount Park Art Association in 1890, the monument was at first placed at the east end of the Girard Avenue Bridge. Unappreciated at that location, it was moved to its present one in 1959, after being given its gilt coat in the basement of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The sculpture represents Joan of Arc, a heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint, astride a horse. Her proper right hand is raised and she holds up a flag in her proper right hand. In her proper left hand she holds the reins. She is crowned with a laurel wreath and clothed in armor. A sword hangs by her proper left side. The horse is walking with its front, proper left and rear, proper right hooves raised.
Situated on a bluff overlooking the Schuylkill River, Laurel Hill Mansion is a two-story Georgian home constructed primarily of brick. It was built in 1767, most likely at the behest of Rebecca Rawle. It had additions added in the first half of the 18th century and was owned by prominent Philadelphia lawyer, William Rawle, beginning in 1819. It was also known as Randolph House after it was acquired by Dr. Jacob Randolph and his wife Sarah, in 1837. It was purchased by the city, along with other estates, in 1869 when Fairmount Park was established. It is now a historic home museum and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
The Baldwin School of Bryn Mawr is one of the United States’ most prestigious all-girls schools. Since 1888, the Baldwin School has served the Greater Philadelphia area and it has been located here in the former Bryn Mawr Hotel for most of those years. While the building has undergone some modifications since its original construction in 1890, the school still calls this building home and has overseen and contributed significantly to its preservation as a historical landmark.
This structure, completed in 1907, served as the campus library until 1970. In 1991, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Not only is this architecturally significant building one of the most visible places on the historic Bryn Mawr campus, it continues to serve a gathering place. The building's Great Hall hosts performances and lectures, as well as campus and public events throughout the year. Quita Woodward Memorial Room for recreational reading with recent books on literature, art, religion, current affairs, as well as many classics. The building is named in honor of M. Carey Thomas, the first dean of the school and it's second President. The building and its signature Great Hall were inspired by campus buildings at Oxford University.
Constructed in 1968, Canaday Library is located at the former site of Bryn Mawr College's Deanery, which was home to college leaders from the time of the college's first dean and second president, Dr. Martha Carey Thomas. Thomas lived at the home from 1885 to 1933, and at that time, the structure held only five rooms but contained works by Louis Comfort Tiffany and other influential designers and artists. The home was also full of items from Dr. Thomas' global travels and the college inherited the home and these items when she passed away in 1935. The home was later expanded significantly for entertaining guests and hosting events but demolished in 1968 above the protests of many students, faculty, and alumni in order to make room for the modern Canaday Library.
Bryn Mawr, now known as the Harriton House, was once the home of Rowland Ellis, a Quaker hailing from Wales who was heavily involved in the local community of Quakers. The borough of Bryn Mawr was named after Ellis' estate, a 700-acre plot which was gifted to Ellis by William Penn himself in the late 1600s. While much of the original estate of Bryn Mawr is now incorporated into the modern borough, the original house still stands, open to the public by appointment and maintained by the Harriton Association, a non-profit, membership corporation devoted to preserving the history of the estate and local area.
On November 29, 1832 (on her father's thirty-third birthday), Louisa May Alcott was born at Pine Place, in the Germantown neighborhood of Pennsylvania [2; 4]. The family left Germantown to live in Massachusetts when Louisa was two years old, where her abolitionist father, Amos Bronson Alcott, began a progressive school and educated his daughters along with the students. Louisa grew up to become an abolitionist in her own right, as well as a suffragist, Civil War nurse, and authoress (under the pen name A. M. Bernard) of Gothic thrillers and children's literature including Little Women [2; 3]. Pine Place is now home to the Cunningham Piano Company .
Ora Washington was one of the premiere female athletes of the early 20th century. She excelled in both tennis and basketball, but because of racial discrimination, she was rarely able to compete with white athletes. According to Arthur Ashe, Washington may have been the best female athlete of the 20th century.
Lucretia Mott was a Quaker abolitionist and feminist who dedicated the majority of her life to the abolition of slavery and the equality of women. After the Civil War, Mott fought for economic and political equality for women and African Americans. Throughout her life she supported organizations such as the American Equal Rights Association, the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, and other groups associated with the American women’s rights movement. Her home in Pennsylvania also served as part of the Underground Railroad. In honor of her efforts, a historical marker was placed close to the former location of Mott’s home in May 1974. The location is within the La Mott Historic District, a community named after Mott in 1885.