When the United States was first established in 1776, women were not allowed to own property or vote, and their career choices were limited to running a household and bearing children. It’s taken generations and the hard work of many strong-willed and intelligent women, but we’ve come a long way.
You can learn about some of the most significant accomplishments in women’s history by visiting some of the following destinations. They all showcase our country’s evolution from a philosophy of “behind every successful man is a strong woman” to “behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.”
1. Harriet Tubman Museum And Educational Center, Cambridge, Maryland
The small but mighty conductor of the Underground Railroad routinely risked her life helping enslaved people in the South escape to free states in the North. She also worked behind the scenes as a spy during the Civil War, providing the Union Army with information to help it win the bloodiest war in American history and ensure freedom for all black Americans.
Although she died more than 100 years ago, Harriet Tubman has resurfaced as a prominent figure in women’s history thanks to the Oscar-nominated movie Harriet. And about an hour east of Washington, D.C., the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center is dedicated to preserving her memory and continuing her work of fighting for the rights of women, minorities, and the disabled.
2. Women’s Rights National Historical Park, Seneca Falls, New York
In July of 1848, a group of 300 women gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, a hamlet located 2 hours east of Niagara Falls, New York. Amidst educational lectures and discussions focused on the rights of American women, the first Women’s Rights Convention produced the Declaration of Sentiments, a declaration of rights specifically for American women.
During your visit to the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, you can tour Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s house, often called the Center of the Rebellion, where she kicked off a 72-year battle for women’s suffrage. You can also enter the Wesleyan Chapel, where the first Women’s Rights Convention was held.
The table where the Declaration of Sentiments was signed is now on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
3. Amelia Earhart’s Childhood Home, Atchison, Kansas
The spunky aviator who would grow up to be the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean was born and raised in a two-story white cottage overlooking the Missouri River. Visitors who tour her home in the small Kansas town of Atchison, about an hour north of Kansas City, not only get a glimpse into life in the early 20th century, but they also learn about the Ninety-Nines, an organization of 99 female pilots who elected Amelia Earhart as their first president.
In addition to touring Earhart’s birthplace and childhood home, don’t miss the opportunity to meet Muriel, the last surviving 1935 Lockheed Model 10 Electra airplane. It's identical to the one flown by Earhart on her fateful quest to fly around the world -- a quest on which she lost her life.
4. Rosie The Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park, Richmond, California
Across the Bay from San Francisco, the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park is dedicated to the women who put on pants, picked up tools, and did what was traditionally men’s work on the home front during World War II.
While it’s fascinating to watch the films and explore the exhibits at the Rosie the Riveter Museum, one of the most meaningful experiences is to visit with one of the Rosies. The women who shaped American history by welding ships, assembling planes, and producing munitions are now in their 90s, and the chance to hear their remarkable stories in person grows slimmer every year.
5. Rosa Parks Bus, Detroit, Michigan
The Henry Ford Museum in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn is full of exhibits that showcase American history. But one of the most sought-after experiences is the opportunity to board the yellow-and-green bus where the quiet, mild-mannered Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. The seamstress’s refusal to comply with segregation laws was the act of peaceful protest that ignited the civil rights movement.
6. Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, Hyde Park, New York
Of the more than 50 American women who have served as first lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the most significant. She was dedicated to women’s rights, civil rights, and supporting World War II refugees in the United States. She was also the first American delegate to the United Nations and the only female member in the six-person delegation.
Located in Upstate New York, about 10 minutes east of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site is located at the first lady’s beloved stone cottage retreat known as Val-Kill (Dutch for “Valley Stream”). It is currently the only American National Historic Site dedicated to a first lady.
Additionally, a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt stands at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C.
7. National Museum Of Women In The Arts, Washington, D.C.
Just a few blocks northeast of the White House, easily recognized by the large sculptures displayed on the median of New York Avenue, the National Museum of Women in the Arts is the only museum in the world that exclusively celebrates female artists. Visit to see the only Frida Kahlo paintings on display in Washington, D.C., along with a wide range of paintings, photographs, sculptures, and other works of art by female artists.
While many museums and other attractions in the capital city don’t charge for admission, there is a fee to visit this museum. However, the first Sunday of each month is designated a free community day.
8. National Women’s History Museum
After more than two decades advocating for a women’s history museum, U.S. congresswoman Carolyn Maloney recently celebrated the passage of a House bill establishing one. If the legislation successfully clears the remaining hurdles, the new museum would join others in the Smithsonian Institution’s collection on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Until it finds a permanent home, the National Women’s History Museum will continue to sponsor traveling exhibits and host an online museum.