One of my favorite activities is going to historic sites related to significant events or people. I especially love going to historic homes, because I think that getting a chance to see how someone lived gives you a better sense of everyday life and the environment that shaped him or her. Here are a few places I've been (or want to visit) that focus on important American women:
Abigail Adams and John Adams made their home in Quincy, Massachusetts for much of their long marriage. The Adams National Historic Park includes several buildings and covers the many generations of the Adams family who lived here. Abigail Adams, a prolific correspondent and our second First Lady, spent more of her married life in Quincy than her husband did. While he was away, serving in the Continental Congress, as Envoy to the Netherlands, and Minister to France and England, she was in Quincy, running the household and farm. The park is fascinating. The Old House at Peacefield still has some of Abigail's belongings.
My favorite is Abigail's horseshoe over the doorway. People usually hang them with the open end facing up, to keep their luck from running out. Abigail Adams felt that she had a surplus of good luck in her life, and so she hung it with the open ends facing down, to share her good luck with anyone who visited.
Seneca Falls, New York
Seneca Falls was the location of the first Women's Rights Convention in the United States. In 1848, about 300 people, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Frederick Douglass, gathered to discuss women's rights, and sign the Declaration of Sentiments, written by Stanton. Based on the Declaration of Independence, it holds that "all men and women are created equal."
You can also visit Elizabeth Cady Stanton's home and learn about her work and her longtime collaboration with Susan B. Anthony. Stanton described their collaboration, saying, "I forged the thunderbolts, she fired them." Seneca Falls is a neat place to visit if you're driving through upstate New York, and a good reminder of how few rights women had in the mid-19th century.
The Hull House Museum in Chicago
Hull House was founded by Jane Addams in 1889 as a settlement house, and run out of Addams' home. It served the local, predominantly immigrant community by offering classes, social gatherings, community services like a nursery school and a library, and even a residence. The main house and the Resident's Dining Hall remain open as the museum today. Today part of the University of Illinois- Chicago, Hull House still offers community programs.
Charles and Ray Eames are best known for their furniture designs, but the husband-and-wife team also designed their own home in the Pacific Palisades near Los Angeles. The house and adjoining studio were their home for four decades, and reflect their design influences, dedication to industrial design, and relationship to nature- the house was originally planned to sit in the middle of their yard, but they repositioned it to better blend into the landscape. It's not open every day, but if you like architecture or design, it's worth a visit!
Of course, there are lots of places I haven't mentioned- or haven't been to- that are worth a visit. I'm always looking for more places to plan on making my way to when I get the chance. Where have you been that you'd recommend?