If you were asked to name a famous woman from history, my guess is you might come up with examples like Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart or Molly Pitcher. While the number of famous women in history is long and distinguished, I wonder if you might include Alice Paul or Emily Roebling on your list.
Last Friday I had the wonderful opportunity to tour The Alice Paul Institute (API) where I learned about this New Jersey pioneer who dedicated her life to securing equal rights for all women. An activist and political strategist, Alice Paul led a successful campaign for women’s suffrage that resulted in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920 which guaranteed American women the right to vote.
Alice Paul’s historic childhood home, called Paulsdale, located in Mount Laurel, NJ, is open to the public. After viewing a video on the life of Alice Paul (1885 – 1977), we had the opportunity to tour the home and learn about the Paul family’s daily life in the house, as well as the farm that surrounds it. We saw Alice’s six college degrees – yes six – as well as original furniture, mementos, photographs and historical documents. Today Paulsdale is used a girl’s leadership center.
I encourage you to learn more about Alice Paul and the Alice Paul Institute. You can find a wealth of information on their web site: www.alicepaul.org. The picture to the left is from our visit to Paulsdale.
Continuing our celebration of Women’s History Month, staff from DCF’s Division on Women recently attended a special presentation, “Bridge Builder in Petticoats: Emily Warren Roebling and the Brooklyn Bridge,” offered by the NJ Department of Transportation.
Similar to Alice Paul, Emily Roebling was a trailblazer with New Jersey ties who is best known for her contributions to the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Emily’s husband, Washington Roebling, was the Chief Civil Engineer during the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. When he became ill and eventually bed-ridden, Emily stepped in as the first woman field engineer, taking over the chief engineer’s duties, including day-to-day supervision and project management. During that time she taught herself civil engineering and developed an extensive knowledge of building materials, stress analysis and cable construction. Emily was the first to cross the bridge when it was completed in 1883, and honored in a speech as “an everlasting monument to the sacrificing devotion of a woman and of her capacity for that higher education from which she has been too long disbarred.” Today the Brooklyn Bridge – once called the “eighth wonder of the world,” holds a plaque dedicated to the memory of Emily and her husband.
After the completion of the Bridge, Emily moved to Trenton, NJ where she participated in organizations during the Spanish-American War and served on the Board of Lady Managers for New Jersey at the World’s Columbian Exposition.
DCF is proud to support women every day through all of our programs and services, and visiting sites like Paulsdale or learning more about Emily Roebling is really a way for us to come together and simply honor all of the remarkable women who have impacted our past, present and future.