175th Anniversary of the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention

Posted on July 19, 2023

by Melissa L & Eric P

1848 was a big year for American women. The first American medical school for women opened in Boston. The Liberty Party announced that women’s suffrage would be a plank in its platform. Caroline Still Anderson, who would become one of the first black women physicians in the U.S., was born. Wisconsin became a state and would eventually go on to produce great American women like Georgia O’Keefe and Tammy Baldwin. And, on July 19, 1848 – exactly 175 years ago – activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton opened the first American women’s rights convention with a speech that proclaimed, “We are assembled to protest against a form of government, existing without the consent of the governed – to declare our right to be free as man is free.”

The two-day convention was held at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, NY; some call it the birthplace of American feminism, while others lament that its legacy is rooted more in symbolism than in effective actions. It would be, after all, another 72 years before the U.S. acknowledged women’s right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, and legislators continue pushing for the Equal Rights Amendment to this very day. Still, the convention’s goals involved more than just suffrage – Stanton’s remarks covered unjust legislation, economic issues, parental rights and personal safety – and it’s hard to imagine the progress of women in American history proceeding in exactly the same fashion if 300 people hadn’t gathered for those two hot July days in upstate New York.

Sisters: The Lives of America’s Suffragists

By Jean Baker


A collective biography of five leaders of the Women’s Rights Movement from 1840-1920: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Lucy Stone, and Francis Willard.  Baker weaves the personal and political lives of the leading suffragists of America.

Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight For Their Rights

By Mikki Kendall


Covering the key figures and events that have advanced women’s rights from antiquity to the modern era, this fascinating graphic novel-style primer illuminates stories of notable women throughout history and the progressive movements led by women that have shaped history.

Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality For All

By Martha Jones

print   |   eAudiobook

In Vanguard, acclaimed historian Martha Jones offers a sweeping history of African American women’s political lives in America, recounting how they fought for, won, and used the right to the ballot and how they fought against both racism and sexism. 

Lifting As We Climb

By Dionne Evette

print   |   eAudiobook 

For African American women, the fight for the right to vote was only one battle. An eye-opening book that tells the important, overlooked story of black women as a force in the suffrage movement when fellow suffragists did not accept them as equal partners in the struggle.

The Early Fight for Woman’s Suffrage

DVD   |   Toledo Library Digital Collections 

The slideshow and dialogue highlight late 19th and early 20th century local suffragette leaders, such as Rosa Segur, Pauline Steinem, and Sara Williams. Their efforts gave Toledo a national prominence in the fight for women’s votes.

The Myth of Seneca Falls: Memory and the Women’s Suffrage Movement

By Lisa Tetrault


The story of how the women’s rights movement began at the Seneca Falls convention of 1848 is a cherished American myth. The standard account credits founders such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucretia Mott with defining and then leading the campaign for women’s suffrage. In her provocative new history, Lisa Tetrault demonstrates that Stanton, Anthony, and their peers gradually created and popularized this origins story during the second half of the nineteenth century in response to internal movement dynamics as well as the racial politics of memory after the Civil War.

The Woman’s Hour

By Elaine Weiss


An account of the 1920 ratification of the constitutional amendment that granted voting rights to women traces the culmination of seven decades of legal battles and cites the pivotal contributions of famous suffragists and political leaders.

Summaries have been pulled from the Library’s catalog and other sources. Click through to each item’s record for more information.

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