Ballots, Bloomers, and Marmalade

Peterboro commemorates New York centennial of women’s suffrage

The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro will be commemorating the state Centennial of Women’s Suffrage with a Women’s History Weekend Sept. 22 through 24, 2017. These two heritage organizations will collaborate with many partners for the Ballots, Bloomers, and Marmalade programs that celebrate local history and its connection to the state’s and nation’s history of women’s rights.

The Ballots, Bloomers and Marmalade weekend will focus on Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Elizabeth “Libby” Smith Miller and Angelina Grimké.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who spent her summers in Peterboro learning of reform at the home of her cousin abolitionist Gerrit Smith, organized, with Lucretia Mott, the first women’s rights convention in 1848 in Seneca Falls; Stanton insisted on the right to the ballot being on the platform of the convention. It was also in Peterboro that Cady met and eventually agreed to marry Henry B. Stanton.

Smith Miller, daughter of Ann and Gerrit Smith, designed a trouser outfit that was healthier for women’s bodies, safer to wear when carrying a child and a candle on a steep stair, and freer of the filth gathered in the muddy 19th-century streets.

While wearing her trouser outfit and visiting her cousin Elizabeth Cady Stanton in Seneca Falls, Smith Miller was introduced to Amelia Bloomer, editor of a women’s newspaper, where she described the healthy garment.

The outfit became known as the “bloomer” outfit. Smith Miller moved to Geneva. She and her daughter Ann formed the Geneva Political Equality Club, which had the most members of any such organization in New York state. Interested in the domestic sphere of women, Smith Miller published a 575-page cookbook in 1875. Her cousin Stanton had suggested the title, “In the Kitchen.”

The book includes marmalade recipes.

Smith Miller made and sold marmalade to raise money for the education of young women.

Grimké (1805-1879) was a white Southerner who became an advocate for the immediate end to slavery and for racial equality. Born to a wealthy, slave-owning family in Charleston, S.C., she came to see the cruelties of slavery. At age 24, she moved to Philadelphia to escape the witness of slavery and to join a religious denomination that disowned slave-owners.

In 1835, she became a member of the Philadelphia Female Antislavery Society, and the next year she and her sister Sarah became the first female grassroots organizers for the American Anti-Slavery Society.

Grimké was inducted into the Abolition Hall of Fame in Peterboro in 2016 and will be commemorated there during Abolition Weekend Oct. 21 & 22. The historical novel, “The Invention of Wings,” has caused increased interest in the Grimké sisters, their contributions to the abolition and women’s rights movement, and their visits and connections to Peterboro.

Registration for the event is at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro. This project is made possible, in part, with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the state Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature and administered by CNY Arts, and sponsored by a Humanities New York Action Grant. Participants are encouraged to wear 19th-century or suffrage outfits.

Reservations for the Peterboro Women’s History Weekend are due Sept. 15. Individual programs are $5 and may be paid at the door. The Game of Life and The Rest of The Story of the Suffrage Movement are free and encourage all to attend. For updates, information and registration forms, 315-280-8828,, and SCA, PO Box 6, Peterboro, N.Y. 13134.

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