By Shuan Butcher
Women have played a critical role in our nation’s history. And some significant women have lived and worked in the greater DMV region (District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia).
Start in the nation’s capital. Many stories can be told here, whether it pertains to the American Suffragist Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the struggle for equality, or others. Here are a few suggestions:
Clara Barton, one of the most honored women in American history, was known as the “Angel of the Battlefield.” She brought supplies and aid to the wounded at several Civil War battle sites, including Antietam, Cedar Mountain, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Harpers Ferry, and others. She later founded the American Red Cross in 1881 and led it for the next 23 years.
In an inconspicuous room on the third floor of a building located in the heart of what is now Washington, D.C.’s central business district, Barton operated the Missing Soldiers Office from 1865 through 1868. During those years, this space received more than 63,000 inquiries, sent out more than 40,000 letters and identified 22,000 Civil War soldiers, helping families figure out the status of their loved ones. Learn more about the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum at clarabartonmuseum.org.
Other sites in the area also pay homage to Barton, including her last known residence in Glenn Echo, Md. Also, near Sharpsburg, Md., a monument to her stands at Antietam National Battlefield.
While in Maryland, you can explore the more than three dozen stops along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, which honors the conductor and most famous Underground Railroad agent in our country’s history. She was born enslaved near the marshes, waterways and woodlands of the Chesapeake Bay. The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway provides an opportunity to explore a landscape that hasn’t changed much in the nearly 200 years since Tubman traversed those same lands. Check out the locations along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway at www.HarrietTubmanByway.com.
Elizabeth Ann Seton
A site just north of Frederick, Md., is a pilgrimage for many people of faith. The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, in Emmitsburg, promotes the life and legacy of the Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, the first American-born saint. Seton, who lived, worked, died, and is now buried here, founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s. Her enduring legacy includes hundreds of schools, social service centers and hospitals throughout the world. She was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1975 in St. Peter’s Square. Check out www.setonheritage.org for additional details.
The Lucy Burns Museum is located at the former Occoquan Workhouse, a former prison located in Lorton, Va. Scores of women were jailed here in 1917 for picketing the White House while seeking their right to vote. Lucy Burns, founder of the National Woman’s Party, was arrested six times and spent more time here than any other American suffragist. For more information, visit workhorsearts.org/lucyburnsmuseum.