Women’s History is Hudson Valley History

Women’s history has long been written on the leaves of diaries, penned across the pages of let­ters and scribbled on the backs of photographs.Their stories — even those of bravery or tur­moil — tend to be shared in family lore, not chron­icled in multivolume biographies.

Nonetheless, while our founding mothers may not be documented in piles of books the way our founding fathers are, “It’s clear that most of the men who wrote the Declaration of Independ­ence and the Constitu­tion, fought the Revolu­tion and formed the gov­ernment couldn’t have done it without the wom­en. And it was the women who, by insisting that the men come together for civilized conversations in the early Washington dinner parties, helped keep the fragile new country from falling into fatal partisan discord.hannah-van-buren-1783-1819-wife-everett

“The women made the men behave” wrote Co­kie Roberts in Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation.

We can glean from the words of Roberts that the influence of women in shaping our society and our history was profound. Over the years, women have fought relentlessly to break down barriers, to break records and to pave the way for future generations. The courage and determina­tion of the women who came before us informs us all and deserves our recog­nition.

The Hudson Valley is rich with the history of pioneering women who once lived or traveled through this extraordi­nary region, subsequent­ly leaving their mark on our nation. Our premier first lady, Martha Wash­­ington, served as hostess to dignitaries and in­spiration to troops at Hasbrouck House in Newburgh during the Revolutionary War.

Preacher and aboli­tionist Sojourner Truth was born a slave named Isabella in what is now Ulster County. Aboli­tionist and suffragist Lucretia Mott attended school at the Nine Part­ners Boarding School in Millbrook. Sarah Bern­hardt appeared at the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie and Susan B. Anthony spoke on more than one occasion at the Hudson Opera House in Hudson.

Vassar College, which opened its doors to the first class of young wom­en in 1865, became the first women’s college to have a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, a reflection of its academic rigor and innovative faculty, many of whom were pioneer­ing women in their fields.

In celebration of Women’s History Month and in conjunction with the Mid-Hudson Library System, our office is proud to present a spe­cial new booklet that tells the stories of 10 remark­able women who made their homes in Dutchess or Columbia counties from the 18th-21st centu­ries. They were artists and activists, elected officials and educators. One woman was born into slavery. Two were married to American Presidents.

Their stories are part of our region’s history, New York state’s history and American history. Their stories are our stories.

Please visit your li­brary and ask your li­brarian for a copy of Women’s History in the Hudson Valley: Ten Sto­ries from Dutchess and Columbia Counties to read the amaz­ing contributions these women have made to our community and country.

Also, check with your library to learn about local events that will celebrate the women of our region and Women’s History Month this March.

About Diner Dialogues

Didi Barrett was elected to the New York State Assembly in a special election in March 2012 and re-elected to a full term in November 2012. Her district, the 106th AD, covers some of the most beautiful parts of Columbia and Dutchess Counties. She has deep roots in the Hudson Valley and came to elected office after a career as a community activist, writer and longtime leader of not-for-profit organizations. Didi is passionate about the agricultural, natural, cultural and historic resources of the Hudson Valley and their critical importance as economic engines and job generators. She is also a great fan of the iconic diners that dot the region. As a member of the Assembly she serves on the Committees on Aging; Agriculture; Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry; Mental Health; Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development and Veterans Affairs.
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