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Women`s History/The Seneca Falls Convention

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Question
Dear Mrs. Fuentes,
I am doing a project on the Woman's Suffrage Movement and the Seneca Falls Convention for National History Day (NHD).I would really appreciate it if you could answer these questions for me.

1) What made you become interested in American History?
2) What do you think was the significance of Seneca Falls Convention?
3) Do you think that the Seneca Falls Convention was a turning point in history? Why or why not?
4) What is the importance of the Declaration of Sentiments in your eyes?
5) What would you recommend as good primary and secondary sources to learn more about Seneca Falls?

Thanks!

Answer
Dear Libby:

Here's an article on it:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seneca_Falls_Convention It appears I got it backwards below.  Seneca Falls was first in 1848 but it was regional, whereas the Worcester conference was in 1851 but claimed to be national.

Best,
Sonia

Dear Libby:

I just looked up Doris Stevens' book.  It's called "Jailed for Freedom."

Best,
Sonia

Dear Libby:

You ask some excellent questions.  I'll do my best to answer them.

1.  I wasn't particularly interested in history when I was going to school through college.  But when I became a feminist, with it came a tremendous interest in the history of women's rights.  Some years ago, I did historical research on the Sewall-Belmont House, the current headquarters of the National Woman's Party, on whose board I served for many years, and learned how conflicting history can be and how it is the historian's task to draw his or her own conclusions as to what happened.  I found that fascinating.  More recently, I did research on the founding of NOW, another area that was in dispute, and found that elucidating, too.  The results of both those research projects are on my website at www.erraticimpact.com/fuentes.  One is called "House of History" and the other is in a section on NOW.

2. The Seneca Falls Convention is recognized as the first regional conference in the US whose purpose was to secure equal rights for women. There was, I believe, an earlier conference, perhaps in 1846, that few know about, in Mass., perhaps in Worcester, you can find out about it on google, but it was local.

You might want to visit Seneca Falls sometime.  The National Women's History Project runs tours there some summers. They have a website you may want to look at.  I took one of those tours years ago and it was very interesting.  The National Women's Hall of  Fame is in Seneca Falls.

3.  I've already answered that in 2 above.  It was the first regional conference in the US whose purpose was to secure equal rights for women. Yes, it was a turning point in the history of women's rights.

4. Like the Seneca Falls Convention, the Declaration of Sentiments was the first public and published statement seeking rights for women in the US by group devoted to that purpose.

5. I'd have to leave this website to look that up in google and I fear doing that as I might lose what I've written.  My friend, Mary Walton, has written a biography of Alice Paul called "A Woman's Crusade," which must deal with that.  I have it in my library but can't put my hands on it at the moment and must eat breakfast now and get ready for my water exercise class. I have a large book called "Winning the Vote" by Robert P.J. Cooney, Jr., which discusses the Declaration of Sentiments on page 8 and has much other material.  Doris Stevens has written about it but I don't remember the title of her book offhand.  Google and a good library should give you additional sources.

Best,
Sonia

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Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Expertise

I am one of the founders of the second wave of the women`s movement. I was a founder of NOW and FEW (Federally Employed Women) and the first woman attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). I am an expert in the history of the women`s movement in the 1960s and '70s, especially in the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited employment discrimination based on sex, among other things.

Experience

I have been involved in women's rights since 1965.

Organizations
I belong to NOW and the Veteran Feminists of America nationally and the Brandeis University National Women's Committee in Sarasota, FL. I am a member of the board of Americans United for Separation of Church and State in Sarasota, FL. My writing has appeared in law and other journals, newspapers and magazines, both in hard copy and online, all over the world. Examples are the "Washington Post"; the Kielce-Radom Special Interest Journal for Jewishgen.com; "Outlook," Canada's progressive Jewish magazine; The Philippines Law Journal; "Common Sense," an international law journal; "Jewish Affairs," in South Africa; and "Frontiers," a feminist law journal.

Education/Credentials
I have a B.A. from Cornell University, where I graduated Phi Beta Kappa and an LL.B. from the University of Miami School of Law, where I graduated first in my class.

Awards and Honors
Superior Performance Award at the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission); Medal of Honor from the Veteran Feminists of America; induction into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame; inclusion in various Who's Who of Women publications; inclusion in "Women of Achievement in Maryland History" reference work; Women at Work award.

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