Bill to establish Women’s History Trail takes important step forward at Massachusetts State House

All month long, Boston 25 News has been highlighting the achievements of women as part of Women’s History Month.

Today, it’s easy to take for granted a woman can be Boston’s mayor or vice-president of the United States. It makes it hard to believe women only got the right to vote about 100 years ago

Many Massachusetts women were integral to the fight for equality at the ballot box.

Now an effort at the Massachusetts State House is underway to make sure the battle to earn that right is never forgotten.

For example, a block along Main Street in Worcester was the site of an important first step in organizing advocates of the 19th amendment.

The first national women’s convention was held at what was once Brinley Hall in 1850.

“I don’t think a lot of people know that,” said State Representative Hannah Kane, a republican from Shrewsbury.

Kane wants to change that. She co-sponsored a bill that would create a Women’s Rights History Trail across the state.

The bill passed the House unanimously and it’s now before the senate.

Kane’s goal is to “call attention to sites were there were either events that were very important in women’s struggles or where perhaps somebody was born or lived and had a great contribution to the rights of women.”

One potential site is the Orchard House in Concord where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women at a tiny desk.

“Louisa May Alcott was the first woman in Concord Massachusetts to register to vote,” said Jan Turnquist, executive director of the Orchard House.

Turnquist thinks making Orchard House part of a women’s rights train will help tell a fuller story of who Louisa May Alcott was while sending a powerful message about the importance of voting.

“It’s the inspiration and the belief that we can make a difference,” added Turnquist.

Other potential landmarks that could be cited include the memorial to social justice activist Sojourner Truth in Florence and the birthplace of suffragette Susan B. Anthony in Adams.

Kane hopes raising the profiles of these sites will educate and inspire future generations. “I think if you understand how long it took women to achieve the right to vote, I think it gives you perspective on how important it is today, and not take it for granted.”

If the bill is signed into law, a 13-member task force would make the final decision on which sites to include. Then the Department of Travel and Tourism would develop a marketing plan.

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