The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History
by the editors Barbara Smith, Gloria Steinem, Gwendolyn Mink, Marysa Navarro, and Wilma Mankiller
Articles and their contributors include
African-American Women, Darlene Clark Hine
Cult of Domesticity, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg
Fashion and Style, Lynn Yaeger
Jazz and Blues, Daphne Duval Harrison
Lesbians, Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy
Native American Cultures, Clara Sue Kidwell
Picture Brides, Judy Yung
Salem Witchcraft Trials, Mary Beth Norton
Vietnam Era, Sara M. Evans
The Seneca Falls Convention met in Seneca Falls, New York, on July 19 and 20, 1848. It was the first convention in the world held specifically to discuss women's rights. Attended by 240 people (including forty men), the meeting was organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Mott and Stanton, both Quakers, had met in 1840 at the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London, where Mott had been denied a seat because of her sex. The event encouraged Mott and Stanton to join forces to work for abolitionism and women's rights.
The Seneca Falls Convention issued the "Declaration of Sentiments," a comprehensive enumeration of the many ways U.S. women were oppressed. It asserted that "all men and women are created equal," and discussed women's exclusion from higher education, the professions, and the pulpit. The document also lamented female disfranchisement and the absence of married women's legal and property rights, among other issues. It demanded, finally, that women be granted "immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States," including the right to vote. The suffrage demand was the only resolution not unanimously supported by the convention; many, including Mott, worried that its inclusion would weaken public support for other demands.
Two weeks after Seneca Falls, an even larger women's rights convention was held in Rochester, New York. From that point forward, annual meetings would become an important component of the women's movement.