As Women’s History Month continues, those wishing to learn more about the many influential women who made Connecticut their home while leaving their mark can visit preserved sites along a dedicated trail through the state that an organization tries to popularize.
The Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, based in New Haven, has compiled a list of 15 such historic sites called the Connecticut Women’s Heritage Trail.
“We want people to be able to get around and see all of these places and learn about all of the fabulous women who have lived in the state, which is why we created it,” said Sarah Lubarsky, executive director of the Hall of fame.
“It’s about education, achievements and accomplishments of women and women, and women’s history, so people know what women have done to contribute to our world,” Lubarsky added.
The trail features women-centric historical sites that would be “good role models,” Lubarsky said, adding that educating people about women’s history is her organization’s priority.
One of the sites on the trail is the Martha Parsons House in Enfield, home to one of the state’s first female entrepreneurs.
“Martha has taken on a more commercial mindset,” said Dee Mack, a member of the Enfield Historical Society, which runs Parsons House as a museum.
Mack added that in the early 20th century, Parsons used his intelligence and shorthand skills to rise through the ranks at Lander, Frary & Clark, a manufacturer of home appliances. Eventually, she rose to a position in the company equivalent to vice president.
Despite her high position in the company, she was asked to sign all letters as “MA Parsons” so that her gender would not be revealed.
“It was never said that she was a woman in such a high position,” Mack said, adding that Parsons was so well off that she was able to retire in her 50s and donate to her community, including $1,600 to purchase an ambulance. for Enfield.
Parsons, who remained unmarried throughout her life, lived with her two sisters in the house until her death in 1962 at the age of 95.
“There were just three women in the house, just doing their thing, making their own decisions… I mean, it’s really, really interesting that they were doing all that stuff back then,” Mack said.
Inside the museum is a stairwell decorated with George Washington memorial wallpaper that was installed in the 18th century, as well as a framed and mounted “mourning jewel” made from the human hair of a member of the Parsons family after their deaths.
Another nearby stop on the Women’s Heritage Trail is the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, where Stowe lived until her death in 1896.
Stowe is the author of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’ a book centered on the horrors of slavery that helped galvanize people against it, said Beth Burgess, director of collections and research at the museum. .
“She was, in her day, an international celebrity,” Burgess said, adding that Stowe wrote more than 30 works during her career and led a public life “at a time when it really wasn’t normal for women, or expected.”
Burgess added that the Beecher family she was part of was “nationally revered,” like the Kennedy family in the 20th century, and Stowe used that status to help others.
“She spent her life speaking out for those who couldn’t, because she had this platform to do so,” Burgess said, adding that after the Civil War ended, Stowe worked for an education. equal to former slaves.
Visitors to the Stowe Museum can be given a tour of the house and learn more about his life, as well as 19th-century social issues, according to the center’s website.
People interested in visiting the other 13 sites along the trail can use a phone app called “ConnTours” created by Connecticut Humanities to guide them to each stop, Lubarsky said.
In addition to creating the Women’s Heritage Trail, the CT Women’s Hall of Fame also offers programs that educate about important local women, past and present, who could serve as role models.
Ben covers Coventry and Tolland for the Journal Inquirer.