Last week my daughter Jennifer and I visited the Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Designated a National Historic Landmark, the Woodlawn Cemetery is a treasure, a green oasis of quiet beauty dropped in the center of one of the busiest places on earth, and the final resting place for over 300,000 people. While there are many famous men buried there – Irving Berlin, Ralph Bunch, Miles Davis – Jennifer and I came to see the graves of the many suffragists who are buried there. We were not disappointed – when it comes to the graves of suffragists Woodlawn holds the golden ticket.
Susan Olsen, Director of Historic Services, guided us to the graves of several of the “rock stars” of the woman suffrage movement – Carrie Chapman Catt, Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, and for me the most exciting – Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other members of her family, including daughter Harriot Stanton Blatch. But there are others as well, Katherine Duer Mackay (Blake), Mary Garret Hay, Catt’s good friend and companion; Ms. Olsen is working to identify more.
The photo below shows Alva Vanderbilt Belmont’s elaborate mausoleum, with his and her graves for her and second husband Oliver Belmont; many said he was the real love of her life. But the monument to Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a bit of a disappointment to us. Obviously her husband Henry died first, so much of the face of the stone tells of his accomplishments. But the placement of her name at the bottom of the monument seems an afterthought. And if one wants to learn about her accomplishments they are relegated to the side, easy to overlook. For a woman who fought almost her entire life to secure political equality for me, my daughters and all women Jennifer and I both agreed that a small cathedral would not be asking too much.
Woodlawn Cemetery is easy to get to and welcomes visitors. For further information about this fascinating memorial park, log onto www.thewoodlawncemetery.org.
The suffragists will be waiting…