Welcome to one of the few national park dedicated to women’s history, its status officially proclaimed by President Obama on April 12, 2016. The National Park Service roster of 410 national parks includes only a dozen or so sites focused on women’s stories. Formerly known as the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, this unassuming old brick house betwixt the Capitol and the Supreme Court has been the home of the National Woman’s Party (NWP) since 1929. Suffragist and organizer extraordinaire Alice Paul founded the NWP in 1917 to fight for women’s rights, including the right to vote. (In 1997, the NWP switched from being a political party to an organization focusing on education and advocacy.) The house is a repository of suffragist memorabilia, banners, political buttons, photos of events and main characters in the life of the women’s equal rights movement, and other artifacts, 2,600 in all, of which 250 are on view. You can walk through the first level on your own, but I’d recommend taking a staff-led tour, the guide ably conveying the power and point of the site by telling the stories of individual heroines. Susan B. Anthony you will have heard of. But Alva Belmont, Inez Milholland Boissevain, and Febb Burn?
- Elise Hartman Ford