“Women don't get half as much rights as they ought to; we want more, and we will have it.”
--Sojourner Truth, 1853
In celebration of Susan B. Anthony’s 200th birthday and the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, River Campus Libraries’ Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation (RBSCP) is honored to exhibit some of our wide and varied collections related to the impact women have had on the City of Rochester.
We Want More and We Will Have It: Women Running Rochester showcases the many spheres in which women have made our city run, including politics, activism, education, philanthropy, and art.
We live in a time when Rochester has a female mayor and city councilors, school principals, CEOs, university presidents, ministers, lawyers, journalists, doctors, and curators. We run clinics and non-profits and galleries and restaurants. It can be easy to take for granted that women today can go wherever their talents, passion, and perseverance take them. This exhibition shows that all of these professions and fields have their pioneers: women who were the first, who didn’t take “no” for an answer, who answered a calling to pursue public civic engagement and employment outside the home.
We begin with Susan B. Anthony’s predecessors, women like Abigail Bush who presided over the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention in Rochester, making her the first woman in the United States to chair a public meeting attended by both men and women. It takes us through the decades Anthony was most active, and then on to the 20th and 21st centuries, when women such as Ruth Scott and Connie Mitchell picked up the mantle for a range of causes above and beyond voting rights. Much has changed in Rochester since Susan B. Anthony’s birth and the passage of the 19th Amendment, but women have been running the city, unofficially and officially, the entire time.
There is much overlap between the subjects of our cases. RBSCP curators used their knowledge of our collections and Rochester’s history to decide where to place women and organizations within this exhibition. We are all aware that this is a subjective process. We also wanted to highlight as many women as possible, and so some women who were instrumental in multiple areas are only featured once. Each case is the story of a subject; you do not need to visit them in any particular order.
This exhibition is not comprehensive; it does not include Haudenosaunee women, who lived in the Rochester area long before white colonizers arrived. The exhibit is based on our collections, and our collections are not reflective of the many thousands of women, including women of color and poor women, who influenced the city.
This exhibition is part of a yearlong celebration of Susan B. Anthony in the city of Rochester, and was co-curated by Jessica Lacher-Feldman, Melissa Mead, Miranda Mims, Andrea Reithmayr, and Melinda Wallington.