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15 National Park Sites Exploring Women’s Contributions to History


When the United States was founded, women were not granted equal rights – or even the right to vote. But during WWII, they were instrumental to the Allied victory by working in factories on the home front. Founding the American Red Cross, writing America’s most cherished poem, and supporting their presidential husbands are just a few of women’s achievements.

Fifteen national park sites celebrate this history. These sites preserve historic homes where history happened to allow future generations to visit and learn. Interpretive programs and exhibits explore these significant women’s backstories and how they changed the future for the better.

This travel guide helps you find the national park sites connected to women’s history and provides all the information you need to plan a road trip to visit.

Map of National Park Sites About Women

How to use this map | Click the icon in the top-left corner to open the Map Legend, then click on any of the legend items to display more information. If you have a Google account, click the (very faint) star at the end of the map’s name to save this map to your account, then access the map from your smartphone during your trip.

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Lowell National Historical Park

Lowell National Historical Park was established in 1978 to preserve an intriguing part of American history – textile mills at the heart of the American Industrial Revolution. The town was founded in the mid-1800s to serve Massachusetts’s mill workers it was an important town for women’s rights throughout the 1900s.

The National Park Service interprets the history of building the town, the textile mills, and the dormitories. Exhibits explain the history of men and women working in the mills, the types of textiles produced, and how the mills transitioned into a new manufacturing era.

But more than anything, the site interprets women’s role in the industrial revolution. Exhibits about Harriet Hanson Robinson explain her participation in the worker strikes and founding the National Woman Suffrage Association. More exhibits touch on the influence of Florence Luscomb and the Women’s Suffrage Movement. The 1910 Woman Suffrage Convention was hosted in Lowell.

Boott Cotton Mills Museum is a fascinating place to explore in the national park site. The gorgeously restored textile mill features the Weave Room and exhibits. The Mogan Cultural Center is housed in a historic boarding house, allowing visitors to see where the workers lived.

Lowell Women’s Week is celebrated yearly during Women’s History Month. The national park site participates in the town-wide activities.

Admission | $6 for museum tours and $12 for canal tours
Visitor Center | 246 Market St, Lowell, MA 01852
Phone | 978-970-5000
Website | www.nps.gov/lowe

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Minute Man National Historical Park

On April 19, 1775, Colonial militia clashed with British regulars in the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts. It was “the shot heard ‘round the world” and the definitive beginning of the Revolutionary War.

Minute Man National Historical Park preserves sections of the 16-mile area where the battles occurred. The national park site interprets the history of British colonists and particularly the women’s lives in 1775. Exhibits explore the role women played in preparing for the Revolutionary War.

There are dozens of places to visit and trails to hike in the linear park. Some of the most interesting are collectively called Witness Houses – homes along “The Battle Road” where people witnessed the start of the war. 11 of the structures are preserved in the park.

One of the most intriguing is The Wayside. Built in the early 1700s, the house has been home to notable authors. Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women, lived in the home from 1845 until 1852. Using the pen name Margaret Sidney, Harriett Lothrop created Five Little Peppers while living in the house in 1883.

Admission | No fees
Visitor Center | 210 North Great Road, Lincoln, MA 01773
Phone | 978-369-6993
Website | www.nps.gov/mima

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Adams National Historical Park

Adams National Historical Park preserves the birthplace of two presidents – John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams. The national park site features the rare original birthplaces of presidents from this era – a 1681 two-story log house and a 1663 house.

Read More | The Definitive List of Every Presidential Home You Can Visit in the U.S.

But the story of Adams National Historical Park is not just about the men – three notable women called this place home.

Abigail Adams was first lady during her husband’s tenure from 1791 until 1801. President Truman once noted that she “would have been a better president than her husband.”

Abigail “Nabby” Smith was John and Abigail’s only daughter to survive childhood. She was born in the John Quincy Adams House 10 years before the Revolutionary War began. Her childhood was spent watching the nation’s struggle for independence, and her adulthood watching the young country grow.

Louisa Catherine Adams was John Quincy Adams’ wife and first lady. She has a subtle, under-the-radar influence on the country’s early history.

The national park site interprets the history of these women through exhibits in the three historic structures, programs, and living history.

Admission | $15 per person
Visitor Center | 1250 Hancock Street, Quincy, MA 02169
Phone | 617-770-1175
Website | www.nps.gov/adam

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site

Eleanor Roosevelt was an incredible woman who shattered the stereotypes of first ladies. She wasn’t shy about sharing her opinion and regularly held press conferences, a first for first ladies. And she didn’t always live with her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Read More | The Definitive List of Every Presidential Home You Can Visit in the U.S.

Whenever her husband was away from their home in Hyde Park, New York, she stayed at Val-Kill Cottage. The cottage began as a joint venture between Eleanor Roosevelt, Marion Dickerman, and Nancy Cook as a furniture shop. After the business failed in 1936, the shop was converted into a residence.

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site preserves Val-Kill Cottage.

Eleanor was deeply involved in politics, women’s rights, and human rights, especially for African Americans. Guided tours of Val-Kill Cottage offer a glimpse into her life as an activist. Exhibits explore her involvement and influence on the 19th Amendment.

Admission | No fee
Visitor Center | 106 Valkill Park Road, Haviland, NY 12538
Phone | 845-229-9422
Website | www.nps.gov/elro

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Harriet Tubman National Historical Park

Harriet Tubman National Historical Park preserves three sites in New York: the Harriet Tubman Home, Thompson A.M.E. Zion Church, and Fort Hill Cemetery, where Tubman is buried.

Tubman was an abolitionist who helped 70 people escape slavery on the Underground Railroad. In 1882, locals built a brick house for her in Auburn, New York. Visitors can take a guided tour of the house and learn about her extraordinary efforts as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad and later in her life.

Four national park sites expand on Harriet Tubman’s life and works:

Admission | No fee
Visitor Center | 180 South Street, Auburn, NY 13021
Phone | 315-882-8060
Website | www.nps.gov/hart

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Women’s Rights National Historical Park

On July 19-20, 1848, the first Women’s Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. Women’s Rights National Historical Park interprets the history of the suffrage movement and the key people involved.

The visitor center in a commercial building is an excellent place to learn about much of the history. Exhibits lay out the details of the movement and influence of the convention. The M’Clintock House, Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, and Wesleyan Chapel are other structures in this national historical park where visitors can learn about this important part of women’s history.

Admission | No fee
Visitor Center | 136 Fall Street, Seneca Falls, NY 13148
Phone | 315-568-0024
Website | www.nps.gov/wori

Statue of Liberty National Monument

The Statue of Liberty is one of the most recognizable icons in the world. The colossal statue, standing 151 feet on a 154-foot pedestal, was a gift from the French to celebrate America’s centennial. The statue was designed by sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi and dedicated in New York in 1886.

But why does the statue depict a woman? And why is this national park site celebrated during Women’s History Month?

Throughout history, artists have portrayed Liberty as a woman following centuries-long traditions from as early as the Roman Empire. Following the French Revolutions, artists typically portrayed Liberty as a woman feeling it would be more inspirational and dignified.

But the woman most celebrated at the Statue of Liberty National Monument is someone you’re almost certainly familiar with, even if you don’t know it. Emma Lazarus, a noted poet and activist, was asked to create an original work for an auction raising funds for the statue. Lazarus wrote The New Colossus, a poem engrained in American’s minds:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Lazarus’s poem refers to the Statue of Liberty as “Mother of Exiles.” She saw the statue as a symbol of immigration. And it was the first thing immigrants saw in New York City.

Did You Know | The Statue of Liberty was initially administered by the United States Lighthouse Board. In 1901, it was transferred to the War Department. The monument has been operated by the National Park Service since 1933.

Go on a scenic boat ride to the Statue of Liberty on an island in the harbor. Visit the Statue of Liberty Museum to learn about Lazarus and countless others involved in designing, building, and funding the monument. And, even if you don’t have time to tour the entire statue, visit the pedestal for stunning views.

Admission | $12 – $25 for the ferry ride, $12 – $25 for the pedestal access, and $12 – $25 for the crown access
Visitor Center | New York, NY 10004
Phone | 212-363-3200
Website | www.nps.gov/stli

Pro Travel Tip | Make reservations well before your trip to guarantee admission to the pedestal and crown. Ferry reservations can be made on the same day, but I recommend at least one or two days in advance.

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park

Harriet Tubman was born into slavery on a plantation in rural Dorchester County, Maryland, in 1822. In 1849, she escaped her owners. Over the next 10 years, Tubman made 13 trips and freed 70 people as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad.

In 2013, President Barack Obama created the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park near Tubman’s birthplace. The following year, Congress passed legislation officially establishing the site in the National Park Service.

Explore the exhibits in the visitor center that interpret her life and works, attend one of the interpretive programs, and go for a drive on the Harriet Tubman Byway.

Four national park sites expand on Harriet Tubman’s life and works:

Explore More | Continue learning at the Harriet Tubman Childhood Home and the Harriet Tubman Museum in nearby Cambridge.

Admission | No fee
Visitor Center | 4068 Golden Hill Road, Church Creek, MD 21622
Phone | 410-221-2290
Website | www.nps.gov/hatu

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument

The three-story brick house on the corner of Constitution Avenue and Maryland Avenue is an odd site in Washington, D.C. It’s surrounded by the towering Hart Senate Office Building that was designed to fit around the historic site.

Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument was established in 2016 by President Barack Obama. The national monument preserves and interprets the history of Women’s Suffrage in the house that once served as the National Woman’s Party headquarters.

Visitors can take a free guided tour of the historic house, learning about Alice Paul, the struggle for women’s equality, and the history of the National Woman’s Party.

Admission | No fee
Visitor Center | 144 Constitution Avenue NEast, Washington, DC 20002
Phone | 202-543-2240
Website | www.nps.gov/bepa

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site

It may be hard to believe, but when the Council House was built in the 1870s, the area around Logan Circle was rural farmland north of Washington, D.C. In 1943, Mary McLeod Bethune bought the house for her residence and first headquarters for the National Council of Negro Women.

Congress designated the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site in 1982. However, the National Park Service didn’t begin operating it until 1994.

Visitors can take a free guided tour of the house to learn about the NCNW’s history and the notable women who lived and worked there, like Mary McLeod Bethune, Vivian Carter Mason, and Dorothy Irene Height. The site interprets the history of the significant organization and how it shaped the world today. It’s intriguing to see the difference between the organization offices on the first floor and the residence on the second floor.

Admission | No fee
Visitor Center | 1318 Vermont Avenue NWest, Washington, DC 20005
Phone | 202-673-2402
Website | www.nps.gov/mamc

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Clara Barton National Historic Site

Clara Barton was a teacher, patent clerk, and self-naught nurse. She was thrust into the Civil War when the casualties from the war’s first battle arrived in Washington, D.C. Throughout the war, she worked tirelessly to gather and distribute medical supplies, tend to the wounded, and manage hospitals.

Barton is best known for establishing the American Red Cross in 1881 and serving as the organization’s first president.

The Clara Barton National Historic Site was established in 1974 to preserve Barton’s gargantuan 38-room home in Glen Echo, Maryland. The site interprets Barton’s history as a teacher, nurse, and humanitarian.

Visitors can take a free guided tour of the house’s first floor. The 45-minute ranger-led program includes information about Barton’s life, the early days of the American Red Cross, and the other people who lived in the house.

Admission | No fee
Visitor Center | 5801 Oxford Road, Glen Echo, MD 20812
Phone | 301-320-1410
Website | www.nps.gov/clba

First Ladies National Historical Park

The Saxton-McKinley House was built in two phases from 1841 until 1870 in Canton, Ohio. The gorgeous Victorian house was the childhood home of Ida Saxton. From 1878 until 1891, Ida lived in the house with her husband, William McKinley.

The First Ladies National Historical Park preserves the First Lady’s childhood home, a rarity among first ladies. Guided tours of the house allow visitors to see the lives of the Ohio president and first lady.

The national park site was established in 2000 by President Bill Clinton. The park’s mission is to commemorate the life and achievements of America’s first ladies. A former bank building was converted into the park’s visitor center and museum, where visitors can learn about these women.

Exhibits on the second floor of the building rotate frequently throughout the year. Each exhibit tells a different story about the work of first ladies. The first floor is a theater with an orientation film.

Admission | No admission
Visitor Center | 205 Market Avenue South, Canton, OH 44702
Phone | 330-452-0876
Website | www.nps.gov/fila

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site

Maggie Lena Walker was a fascinating woman who transformed her small Richmond neighborhood in the early 1900s. In 1902, she established a local newspaper. The following year, she became the first African-American woman to establish a bank when she opened St. Luke Penny Savings Bank.

In 1904, she bought a Victorian Gothic rowhouse in downtown Richmond. Built in 1883, the beautiful was home for her and her family for nearly eighty years. When the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site was established in 1978, her descendants sold the Maggie Walker House to the National Park Service.

Guided tours of the historic house are offered seasonally.

Admission | No fee
Visitor Center | 600 North 2nd Street, Richmond, VA 23219
Phone | 804-771-2017
Website | www.nps.gov/mawa

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park

Rosie the Riveter was a cultural icon representing the millions of women who worked in factories during WWII. Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park was established in 2000 to preserve several sites around the San Francisco Bay Area in California.

The national historical park interprets the history of the women working on the home front during the war. In a rare occurrence, one of the national park site’s subjects was a park ranger, Betty Reid Soskin, who worked in a factory during WWII and later became the oldest active national park ranger.

But the national park site doesn’t focus on just one person. Instead, it features the stories of dozens of “Rosies.” The stories show what life was like on the home front, how the women dealt with the sudden thrust into the workplace, and how things like childcare and education were handled.

Visitors can learn their stories at the visitor center in the historic Oil House, Ford Assembly Plant, and the Richmond Shipyard. Many sites are explored during self-guided tours, but there are also ranger-led interpretive programs to learn more.

Admission | No fee
Visitor Center | 1414 Harbour Way South #3000, Richmond, CA 94804
Phone | 510-232-5050
Website | www.nps.gov/rori

Explore More | Visit the South Red Oak Victory Ship and tour the historic vessel on Sundays. The ship was built at the Richmond Shipyard by “Rosies.”

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

In 1896, American prospectors George Carmack, Shookum Jim, and Tagish Charlie discovered gold near the Klondike River in Canada. The discovery sparked the Klondike Gold Rush. Between 1896 and 1899, an estimated 100,000 people rushed into the area looking for their pot of gold.

Most never found it.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park was established in 1976 and preserves several structures in Skagway, Alaska, one of the gold rush’s boomtowns. Visitors to the various sites learn how people panned for gold and lived in harsh environments in the late 1800s.

The national historical park has an intriguing exhibit about the Women of the Gold Rush. Teachers, cooks, nuns, and stay-at-home mothers rushed to Alaska for gold to support their families or for the thrill of the adventure.

Exhibits interpret their history and digs into why women would abandon their lives at home for a chance at finding gold.

Admission | No fee
Visitor Center | 157 2nd Avenue, Skagway, AK 99840
Phone | 907-983-9200
Website | www.nps.gov/klgo

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