Women’s History Month: Editors’ Picks News2america

Throughout time, women have contributed to advancements across all areas of society through their hard work, skill and perseverance; they’ve also been subjected to plenty of persecution along the way. Whether by enduring witch trials, fighting for the right to vote or bringing untold stories to the forefront, American women have earned their place in history. The travel editors at U.S. News have compiled a list of their favorite places to visit around the country to honor Women’s History Month.

Washington, D.C.

(Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery)

The nation’s capital is full of exciting ways to celebrate and learn about women. Visit the National Portrait Gallery (one of my favorite museums in the city, and it’s free) to see portraits of remarkable Black women, the female Supreme Court justices and women’s suffrage activists, among others. The art gallery also features exhibits highlighting Girl Scouts of the USA founder Juliette Low and Maya Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Other interesting museums you may want to check out include the extravagant Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens (founded by businesswoman Marjorie Merriweather Post) and the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum (I recommend a leisurely stroll through to admire its intricate interior, decorative exhibits and building details).

If you can’t make a spring trip, pencil in a late fall getaway to see the National Museum of Women in the Arts once it completes its multimillion dollar renovation and restoration. When it’s time for a delicious meal, make a reservation at one of the incredible restaurants helmed by woman chefs in Washington, such as Centrolina or St. Anselm. Or, check out Bar Charley, which is one of my favorite bars (and co-owned by a woman) for creative cocktails and a relaxed atmosphere.

National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame: Fort Worth, Texas

Interior of National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame

(Courtesy of National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame)

This museum in Fort Worth, Texas, honors the women who shaped the American West. In addition to celebrating influential ranchers and rodeo cowgirls, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame also recognizes the contributions of female artists, humanitarians, writers, entertainers and more who helped define the identity of the West. Visitors will learn about everyone from Annie Oakley, the frontwoman for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, to Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, via the museum’s hands-on exhibits and photography displays.

I am particularly interested to plan a visit to the museum to view its new “Dare to Wear” exhibition, which debuted in 2022. It showcases Western wear – such as rhinestone jackets, boots and hats – owned by some of the museum’s honorees, as well as the craftsmanship of renowned tailors like Rodeo Ben, Nathan Turk, Nudie Cohn and Manuel Cuevas.

Birchbark Books: Minneapolis

Steps from Lake of the Isles, Birchbark Books is an Indigenous-focused independent bookstore owned by Pulitzer Prize winner Louise Erdrich (an enrolled Turtle Mountain Chippewa member). The neighborhood shop has a cozy feel, with a handmade wooden canoe suspended from the ceiling and a small children’s loft, as well as art and jewelry by local, regional and Southwestern artisans. The woman-owned bookstore is a destination for Indigenous American titles and traditional Native art, as well as sponsored readings.

As an avid historical fiction reader, Erdrich’s books have provided me with a greater understanding of Indigenous culture and experiences. I like to visit this bookshop to see the latest art arrivals and discover titles I may not find elsewhere that illustrate the contributions and challenges of women throughout history.

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum: Chicago

Exterior and sign of Jane Addams Hull House Museum

(Courtesy of Adam Alexander Photography)

Hull-House, a National Historic Landmark, tops the list of places I’d like to visit to dive deeper into women’s history in the U.S., especially since it serves as a memorial to such an admirable figure. Jane Addams – who later became the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize – founded this settlement house with Ellen Gates Starr in 1889 to bolster local immigrant communities with social services such as English classes and child care for working mothers. Addams championed social reform and fought to end exploitative child labor among other causes; she also supported women’s suffrage and racial equality, becoming a co-founder of the NAACP. Today, the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum is spread across two buildings out of what was once a 13-building complex, with exhibitions detailing the rich history of activism here.

Women’s Rights National Historic Park: Seneca Falls, New York

Statues at Women's Rights National Historic Park

(Courtesy of Women’s Rights National Historic Park)

Of all the places I would love to visit to celebrate Women’s History Month – of which there are many – the destination that stands out is Women’s Rights National Historical Park. The park is home to the Wesleyan Chapel: the site of the country’s first women’s rights convention.

Officially launching the women’s suffrage movement in the U.S., the Seneca Falls Convention was held in July 1848 and consisted of some 300 people gathering to discuss the rights of women. During the convention, the Declaration of Sentiments was presented for the first time. Written predominantly by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (whose house you can tour at the park as well), this document outlined injustices against women; the convention also created a list of resolutions demanding women be treated as equal to men. A 100-foot-long waterwall inscribed with the text of the manifesto and its signers can be found at the park, as well as the M’Clintock House, where the influential document was drafted.

Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum: Baltimore

As a history nerd, places like the Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum are must-visits for me. Lillie Carroll Jackson was a civil rights leader and activist; the feats accomplished during her life continue to have lasting effects today. After a botched mastoiditis surgery left her permanently disfigured, Jackson dedicated her life to public service. She pioneered nonviolent resistance tactics beginning in the 1930s similar to what the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis would use during the movement in the 1960s. During her 35-year tenure as the president of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP, she grew the chapter into one of the most significant in the U.S. and helped win vital legal battles in the fight for segregation.

When Jackson died in 1975, she willed her home to become a civil rights museum. Today, the Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum is run by Morgan State University. It’s the first privately owned museum in Baltimore dedicated to honoring an African American woman and was the only civil rights museum in Maryland when it opened.

Richmond, Virginia

Richmond is one of my favorite cities, and there are numerous places to celebrate women’s history here. You can learn about civil rights activist Maggie L. Walker during a tour of her home and peruse the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which has the work of women artists on display year-round – and a handy guide to boot. My favorite way to celebrate women in the city is by supporting RVA’s women-owned restaurants. For a meal, you can’t go wrong with Garnett’s (delicious sandwiches), Africanne on Main (a blend of West African, Caribbean and Southern flavors) or Quirk Hotel’s restaurant (go for brunch). When you need something sweet, head to Scoop on Strawberry Street or Ruby Scoops on Brookland Park Boulevard for ice cream flights.

Belva Lockwood Inn: Owego, New York

Historical sign at Belva Lockwood Inn

(Courtesy of Belva Lockwood Inn)

It was at the Belva Lockwood Inn that I learned Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein and other modern female politicians were not the first women to run for president of the United States. Belva Ann Lockwood – a lesser-known leader in the women’s suffrage movement and the first woman to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court – was the first female presidential candidate to appear on a ballot. She ran for president in 1884 and 1888 on the ticket of the Equal Rights Party. Now a restored bed-and-breakfast, her former home and seminary as well as the surrounding town are the perfect setting for a weekend getaway in New York.

Molly Brown House Museum: Denver

Exterior and sign of Molly Brown House Museum

(Leilani Osmundson/U.S. News)

Explore the Molly Brown House Museum to learn about the woman who was so much more than what she became best known as: a Titanic survivor. Although you’re able to walk the three floors and 16 rooms of the museum yourself, I recommend signing up for a guided tour, which dispels the many myths surrounding “Molly” Brown – the most surprising of which for me was that her name was not “Molly” at all. Her actual name was Margaret Brown, and she never went by “Molly” in her lifetime; the nickname was just easier to sing in the 1960 musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

The musical didn’t stop at her name in terms of myths. It portrayed Brown as an uneducated gold digger, when in truth, Margaret Brown was a philanthropist, reformer and suffragist. She was well educated, speaking multiple languages fluently, and did not become wealthy until her husband – J.J. Brown, who had no fortune when they met – made a prolific gold discovery several years after they were married. Throughout her life, she was known to help others: On the rescue ship Carpathia, in fact, Brown distributed blankets, used her foreign language skills to console survivors who spoke little English, and raised $10,000 among first-class passengers to distribute to the less fortunate who had lost everything on the Titanic.

The museum is intricately decorated, featuring furniture, artwork, clothing and more that belonged to Brown herself. The guided tour is about an hour with time left at the end to explore on your own. I also enjoyed browsing the museum store, which sold not only Margaret Brown items but also books and souvenirs about other important women and Denver as a whole.

Salem Witch Trials Memorial: Salem, Massachusetts

Mary Easty bench with flowers at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial

(Courtesy of Salem Witch Museum)

I’m an ardent fan of spooky season and someone who quotes “Hocus Pocus” well outside of October, so a visit to Salem was a no-brainer. The town has plenty of kitsch, from a wax museum to haunted houses. But the Salem Witch Trials Memorial offers a surprisingly tasteful and somber tribute to the 20 victims – most of them women and the men who associated with them – condemned and executed during the witch trials of 1692.

These long-sensationalized trials have always fascinated me, but the memorial, inscribed with the victims’ pleas of innocence, puts into perspective the reality of their humanity and the fear and injustice they suffered. As many of the victims were originally buried in unmarked graves, the granite benches inscribed with their names give them a final home, and the visitors observing the memorial in respectful silence contribute to its sense of peace and power. The flowers that are still placed at each tribute are a testament to the victims’ legacy and the importance of protecting the marginalized.

Susan B. Anthony Museum & House: Rochester, New York

Exterior of Susan B. Anthony Museum & House

(Courtesy of VisitRochester.com)

On a past trip to Rochester, I loved taking in the gorgeous architecture of the historic homes lining streets across the city. Among them is the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, which dates back to 1859. It served as not only the residence of this famous women’s rights activist, but also the site of Anthony’s arrest in 1872 after she illegally voted as a woman. This house museum is a great place to learn more about the women’s suffrage movement and reflect on the progress we have made.

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