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Home News NOT ONE MORE DUSTY MUSEUM: The Matilda Joslyn Gage Center for Social Justice Dialogue
NOT ONE MORE DUSTY MUSEUM: The Matilda Joslyn Gage Center for Social Justice Dialogue
The historic home of suffragist-abolitionist Matilda Joslyn Gage in Fayetteville, New York, contains a rich story of social justice activism ranging from the Iroquois to Oz.
Given an honorary adoption into the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk Nation, Gage wrote editorials supporting the sovereignty and treaty claims of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Council of Chiefs, and was inspired by the authority of Haudenosaunee women, who have had political voice for more than 1000 years.
She advised her ne’er-do-well son-in-law to write the stories with which he entertained his sons, and two years after her death, L. Frank Baum published the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The utopian matriarchal society Baum develops in his 14-book Oz series carries the imprint of his feminist mother-in-law throughout.
Offering her home as a station on the Underground Railroad, Gage also exposed sex trafficking in 1893, as the practice of enslavement continued after the institution was outlawed.
Susan B. Anthony scratched her name in the upstairs library window on one of her frequent visits to the Gage house, as she and Gage, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, served as the leadership triumvirate of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Sharing leadership positions in the organization, the three also edited a three-volume History of Woman Suffrage, which remains a primary and exhaustive source on the women’s movement from its origins through the mid-1880s.
Gage ultimately left the movement as it became more conservative and concentrated on fighting to maintain the wall of separation between church and state, while documenting the role of organized religion in the second-class position of women.
The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation purchased and rehabilitated the Gage Home in a 10 year, million-dollar capital campaign and opened it as the Gage Center for Social Justice Dialogue in 2010. Each room in the historic house museum concentrates on one aspect of Gage’s story in the Haudenosaunee, Women’s Rights, Underground Railroad, Religious Freedom, and Oz rooms. The Gage Center is the only home open to the public where L. Frank Baum lived; the home restored with the help of photos he took inside and out when he lived there in the summer of 1887.
Visitors are encouraged to: “Check your Dogma at the Door and Think for Yourself” as they explore the themed rooms and consider the ideas continued within. Invited to sit on the furniture, touch the artifacts, eat and drink and take photos, they leave their thoughts as they sit at Gage’s actual desk or write on the whiteboard walls.
Leaving this award-winning historic house museum, visitors comment on the unique experience of dialoguing about topics of equality and justice in a warm and welcoming environment. Learn more at: www.matildajoslyngage.org.