Women have always been an integral part of telling our nation’s history. Find a story in history and it will be hard not to find a woman who had some part in it. Here in Kansas during the 19th century, women were fighting for rights for their gender, as well as for the end of slavery. Women’s rights activist, temperance, and abolitionist Clarina Nichols fought for equal rights for women in the 19th and early 20th centuries. But, did you know that some of these women actually fought for these rights here in Freedom’s Frontier? When you start to look around your neighborhood and think about who may have been traveling through, and what events may have occurred, it can really speak to you.
Clarina lived for a time in Douglas County, near Lawrence, Kansas and represented Kansas women in the Wyandotte Convention. It is said she listened intently to every speaker, while knitting quietly. Can you imagine what it may have been like to be seated next to her? Next time you may be exploring some of the former towns of Nichols, like after you visit the Watkins Museum of History in downtown Lawrence, try and imagine you’re following a crowd to attend Clarina’s next speech.What may have been going through the minds of her audience? What may others have thought about those who attended, and those who did not?
Susan B. Anthony also traveled through the Heritage Area a few times in her career of speaking on women’s rights. She was even a featured speaker in 1867 in Olathe, Kansas. Anthony’s brother, Daniel Read Anthony, lived in Leavenworth, Kansas. When you visit the Carroll Mansion in Leavenworth you can see a desk owned by Anthony. Try and imagine yourself as a guest of the Anthony’s. Think about what it would have been like to be associated with such a figure of women’s rights. Follow in the footsteps of these historic women and think about how far we’ve come from then.