BRAVE, BOLD, and STRONG: Vote Like a Girl
Though most were easily a decade away from casting their first ballots, the children at the Vote Like a Girl event happily donned violet-and-gold sashes and marched in support of women’s suffrage.
They also sang songs, wrote poems, walked on stilts, and made “radical” cross-stitch, all in the name of girl power.
“This was our moment of collective activism,” said Margaret Hughes, Historic Hudson Valley’s (HHV’s) Associate Director of Education. “People were super enthusiastic about our new program that was a lot of fun and used the past to shine a light on what’s happening today.”
The first family-focused event in support of HHV’s Women’s History Institute, Vote Like a Girl was held at Sunnyside in July. Washington Irving’s home corresponds in time with the first women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York, in the summer of 1848, Hughes said. “We opened up the lens on Sunnyside and brought it up to present day.”
Karen Frazer of Radical Cross Stitch revamped a traditional art form and her students embroidered new slogans like “The Future is Female” and “Girls Make History.” Award-winning author Susan Hood read from her book, Shaking Things Up: Fourteen Young Women Who Changed the World, and led a poetry workshop. Music historian Linda Russell led songs about suffrage and citizenship.
Visitors to the STEM Center checked out a wind tunnel and archeological dig to consider the types of skills women need to prepare for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Children also had a chance to dress in costume. After seeing how many layers a nineteenth century woman wore under her dress, visitors got a sense for themselves of what they could—and couldn’t—do wearing a corset or hoop skirt.
Members of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival debated a woman’s right to vote. The audience got to choose whether the actor portraying a nineteenth century sister or her brother should advocate for the vote. In the end, each sibling had a turn.
Elizabeth Bradley, HHV’s Senior Director of Programs and Engagement, said she was thrilled to see so many girls dressed for the occasion, and at least one small boy with a “Feminist” T-shirt. “It was fascinating to see the appetite for this type of event,” she said. “We filled a need we hadn’t known went unmet.”