Trailblazing Women and the Parks that Honor Them

February 28, 2017Travel Ideas
A view, from the sidewalk, of the striped awning hanging over the entrance to Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site
Geoff Livingston

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

The Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument house’s entryway with stunning gold frames and two white busts on an interior blue wall.
National Park Service

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

The architecturally modern outdoor memorial surrounded by red flowers and greenery at Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park.
National Park Service

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

The rich wooden interior of the home with the red and white flag of the American Red Cross at Clara Barton National Historic Site.
National Park Service

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

Sign and entrance to the red 3-story building at the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House
National Park Service

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

A creek surrounded by growing greenery surrounds the stone cottage, Val-Kill, at Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site.
Martin Harmon, Share the Experience

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

A street-side view of the brick red Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site and the neighboring buildings.
National Park Service

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.

Comments

How about Susan B Anthony??
Karen and Ken
Mason
Susan B Anthony doesn't really live a National Park like the rest of them. Her birth home is a museum but privately owned.
Kristen
Mabey
Maggie Walker NHS: My husband and I were both history teachers and lived in Virginia for 40 years. We always went to Richmond and saw the historical sites. However, it wasn't until bout three years ago we went to this site because the SOL had changed and I was looking for information to help teachers in my county. It is a gem of a place. I am so sorry we never brought a group of students. The history packed in her home was unbelievable. We spend so much time there. Mostly original artifacts and the pictures on the walls were amazing. I would recommend this site. You have to look for it, but it is well worth the effort.
Susan
Gredler
Trinidad Head National monument park: Whom was this park, deicated for?
Violet
Skye's
Another famous woman that should be included in your conversation is recently added Harriet Tubman National Historical Park# 414.
Mike
Long
Harriet Tubman site in Auburn NY: Her home has now been designated as a site for NPS....we've been there in the last year; nice information there on the underground...
Janice
Smith
How about the newly opened Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Church Creek, Maryland? It is a joint venture between the National Park Service and Maryland Parks.
William
Connery
What about Elizabeth Cady Stanton?
Carol
Beam
There is a grove in the Redwood National Forest dedicated to Lady Bird Johnson. It’s a lovely old growth grove. It’s beautiful.
Al
M
architect and design in the Southwest: Mary Colter (Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest)
Anne
Fuller
Izetta Jewel: She was my g.aunt who helped raise me after my father died when I was 3. But she was an actress, political leader, very active in the women's movement from the start, yet was also a special family leader to me.
Margaret
Gibson
As a history and political science double major, it is interesting to read a blog written about women's achievements across time and historical sites dedicated to their efforts. Many historians sometimes question how does one place women in history books. This question is asked not because women don't deserve to be placed there but because initially historians never wrote about their stories. Other historians believe that we must insert women back into the history books like they were always meant to be apart of the stories we tell. Nonetheless, the discussion of women's history and the role women play in the world today matters. Women's History Month, the placement of Women's Historical Sites matter not only to show future generations but to inspire current ones. Efforts today to equal the playing field between men and women in the workforce, in the classroom, on the battlefield and everywhere in between is still a pressing issue. Women still earn less than men, our governing bodies are far from being equal and the United States military just recently allowed women into combat. I believe the historical dedications of women across the country remind us that women have so much to be proud of but there is still a long way to go.
Samantha
Yaros

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