Women's History Month
Val-Kill is the only national historic site dedicated to a First Lady. But Eleanor was so much more than a President’s wife. Eleanor’s public service began long before she became First Lady of the United States in 1933. When the U.S. entered the first World War, she volunteered for the American Red Cross and Eleanor helped campaign for Franklin’s political career as the effect of his polio (contracted in 1921) made travel difficult.
Eleanor was a great advocate for women and was the first First Lady to hold a press conference, something she continued regularly for women journalists. In fact, she eventually allowed only women to attend her press conferences, which resulted in newspapers hiring women journalists that they would have access. Eleanor championed equal rights for women and minorities, as well as child welfare. Eleanor was uniquely involved in her husband’s presidency and after his death she was appointed to the United Nations General Assembly by President Truman and again later by President Kennedy. (Kennedy also placed her on his Commission on the Status of Women.) One of her biggest impacts was to assist in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Posthumously, Eleanor was awarded the Uniter Nations Human Rights Prize.
While these words may echo familiar to Americans, in 1948 this was a propound statement to be undertaken by all citizens of the world:
“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.” – Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
KZLA staff has worked on several phases of work at the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historical Site and the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, NY. Two of the projects we worked on at these integrated NPS sites involved the study of the network of trails which connect Springwood – the estate where FDR was born and raised, to Val-Kill – Eleanor Roosevelt's private home, to Top Cottage – the stone cottage where FDR entertained dignitaries and where he intended to retire. The fact that there are three significant homes within the park speaks to the complexity of the life of the Roosevelts.
Women's History Month
KZLA teamed with Northeastern University’s Public History Program to update the National Register Nomination Form for the Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site, in Cambridge, MA.
The previous Nomination Form was expanded to include the landscape, as well as including new themes relating the site’s significance in American history, including abolition and slavery, women’s role in historic preservation, and the influence of the landscape to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poetry. In fact, the Nomination Form also extended the period of significance to 1929 to capture the life of Longfellow’s eldest daughter—Alice Longfellow (1850-1928)—and her influence in preserving Longfellow’s home, and other historic sites with national significance. Alice Longfellow was a member of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association - the organization of women who preserved George Washington’s estate thereby sparking preservation in the United States in 1858.
Additionally, Alice used the family’s estate to promote the higher education of women’s, especially at Radcliffe College. She held the College’s commencement each year on their property. She also provided funds for scholarships for African American and American Indian students at several institutes. To commemorate her dedication to the betterment of women, Longfellow Hall was built and named in her memory (1929). Today it is part of the Harvard University Graduate School for Education.
Alice also hired women in the early days of landscape architecture. Alice Longfellow hired two preeminent women landscape architects to update her gardens: Martha Brookes Hutcheson and Ellen Biddle Shipman, in 1904 and 1925 respectively. Martha Brookes Hutcheson was an early practitioner of landscape architecture in America, and a female pioneer in the profession. Though planting design was considered suitable for women, landscape architecture was still largely closed to them, for the grading and engineering aspects of the field were considered masculine work. She was one of three women inducted into the ASLA membership in 1920, and was made a Fellow in 1935, becoming the third woman to be so honored.
For additional information: https://www.mountvernon.org/preservation/mount-vernon-ladies-association/their-legacy/alice-longfellows-quest-for-authenticity/
Women's History Month
The Ride of Paul Revere in April 1775 is a well-known event in American history. But while he was riding through the countryside to spread the news that the British army was on the move, Rachel Walker Revere was waging her own formidable battle. At just 29 years old, she was busy defending Paul’s business, their home in Boston, and 7 children.
While Paul had been making frequent trips for the Revolutionary cause, his midnight ride came with new danger. Left without word from him for almost 2 weeks, Rachel found herself with 6 stepchildren and a new baby of her own behind British lines in Boston’s North End. Her attempt to contact Paul shortly after his ride was intercepted by the British and found 150 years later in the papers of the British commander at the time. In early May, she coordinated ferrying her family and their essential belongings out of Boston, rendezvousing with Paul outside the city in Watertown.
Rachel and Paul had 7 more children and built a thriving foundry and copper rolling business. Rachel outlived all but 5 of her 14 children and stepchildren, dying in 1813 at age 68. She is buried in the Granary Burying Ground in Boston (KZLA worked on Granary Burying Ground in 2016)
03.17.21 Happy Evacuation Day!
In addition to being St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th is Evacuation Day in the City of Boston. It is the anniversary of the end of the 9-month long Siege of Boston which began after the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. The siege ended when the Continental Army fortified Dorchester Heights with cannons captured at Ticonderoga.
At Dorchester Heights, KZLA designed granite interpretations of the traveling carriages used during the Siege of Boston.