Trailblazing Women and the Parks that Honor Them
It's hard to imagine what America would be like today without the contributions of tough, uncompromising women like Maggie L. Walker and Clara Barton. For everyone traveling to national parks in search of fascinating tales about pivotal historical figures, there are quite a few places where you can learn about the women who helped shape American history beyond the well-known Women's Rights National Historical Park. Some of these stories might even be new to you!
Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument
One of the newer additions to the National Park System, this Washington, D.C. unit was the epicenter of the struggle for women's rights for nearly 90 years when it was the headquarters of the National Woman's Party (NWP). Based in an unassuming brick house a stone's throw from the U.S. Capitol, the party spent decades developing innovative strategies to achieve equality for women, including working toward the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment which was passed by Congress in 1972.
On the day Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument was designated, the National Park Foundation proudly announced a gift to ensure the proper protection and care for the NWP’s collection stored in the house. It would also provide the funding need to repair the historic building’s HVAC system, chimney, roof, gutters, and windows.
Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park
In addition to fighting battles overseas, countless Americans — many of them women — spent the years during World War II doing their part on the home front. Established in 2000 and located in Richmond, California, Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park tells the story of the challenges workers faced at home. The labor shortage created by the war opened the door for women and minorities to enter the workforce, which proved to be a crucial turning point in the struggle for equal rights.
Clara Barton National Historic Site
An accomplished nurse, teacher, and humanitarian, Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881. Clara Barton National Historic Site preserves Barton's historic home and the 9 acres that surround it in Glen Echo, Maryland, where visitors can tour the residence and learn about Barton’s remarkable life and meaningful work. When it was established in 1974, Clara Barton National Historic Site was the first national historic site dedicated to a woman.
Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site
Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site honors the life of accomplished educator and humanitarian Mary Jane MacLeod Bethune. An advocate for women's rights as well as civil rights, she was an adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and founded a private school for African Americans in Daytona, Florida. Designated in 1982, this national historic site was the first headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), and Bethune’s last home in Washington, D.C. It was here where Bethune and the NCNW strategized and developed programs to advance the interests of African American women.
Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site
The stone cottage and surrounding 181 acres known as Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site was the home of Eleanor Roosevelt after the 1945 death of her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. She called the home Val-Kill, which roughly translates to “waterfall-stream” in Dutch. The exhibits and refurbished rooms of this Hyde Park, New York, cottage shed light on Roosevelt's many accomplishments, which included bringing widespread attention to racial and women's rights issues, and largely redefining the role of the First Lady.
Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site
The historic home of Maggie L. Walker in Richmond, Virginia, is a place of pride and progress. A staunch supporter of rights and opportunities for African-Americans and women, Walker was a prominent businesswoman and community leader. Throughout her life, she was a newspaper editor and fraternal leader, as well as the first African American woman to found a bank in the country. Her refurbished home was opened to the public as the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site in 1978.
These six parks are just a few of the many National Park Service sites across the U.S. that are dedicated to the strong women who have shaped — and continue to shape — the course of American history. Get out there, #FindYourPark, and explore the many captivating stories that make up our collective national narrative.