JOHNSTOWN – The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Women’s Consortium is holding its seventh biennial symposium this coming Saturday. It will be the first held since before the COVID-19 pandemic and it’ll be hosted in Johnstown — Cady Stanton’s birthplace— at Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES.
“We wanted to make people aware that ECS was born and raised in Johnstown, to get her recognition in her hometown. Most people didn’t know this, it wasn’t taught in school or anything” said Elizabeth Russo, a spokesperson for the consortium.
The symposium will consist of nine different workshops and attendees will be able to attend three, one in each session. The workshops primarily focus on current events and women’s history, in addition to three “just for fun” workshops.
In the “Exceptional Women” category are three workshops. “My Heart is Hot: They Call It The Women’s War,” presented by Cheryl McGrattan, focuses on the stories of women impacted by the war in Ukraine. “Local Suffrage Heros [sic]” will touch on more of the local activists who fought for voting rights and will be presented by Montgomery County Historian Kelly Farquhar. “From Tessie the Tanner to Home Work” will be presented by Fulton County Jistorian Samantha Hall-Saladino and recounts the stories of women who worked in Fulton county’s glove and leather industry.
“Keep A Girl In School: Menstrual Rights and Education” will highlight the educational struggles faced by women experiencing period poverty. The workshop will be led by Ellie von Wellshelm, the founder and director of The MoonCatcher project, an initiative that provides menstrual products to women in developing nations. “Overcoming Adversity,” presented by Cheryl Hage-Perez, director at Veterans Community & Housing Coalition and Amanda Anderson, director at the Domestic Violence Program of Fulton County, will explore challenges faced by many women, such as homelessness and domestic violence.
Finally, there will be three workshops in the “Just for Fun” category to balance out some of the heavier topics discussed. One will be led by Lisa Dougherty, a professional genealogist based in Guilderland, who will help participants create pedigree charts — often called family trees. Dougherty will be available before and after the workshop for specific questions. Since women were much more likely to work at home throughout history, it can be harder for people to find female ancestors.
“It puts a personal stance on things going on in the wider world,” Dougherty said. “…Things like wars, different things going on in different communities, natural disasters. Those things would have an impact on a family in a personal way. If you know who those people were and who lived during those times, it better helps you to understand.”
In addition to the workshops will be a keynote address by Rachel Tiede, and a performance by Melinda Grube. Tiede is an Emmy-winning reporter and anchor at NewsChannel 13 in Albany.
“I’m going to be talking about shoulders to stand on, women who have supported me to help me get to where I am,” said Tiede. “I’m just excited to meet people, hopefully they take something away from what I have to say”
Tiede will also address themes like mentorship and toxic vs. healthy workplaces.
“I reached out to Rachel because one I watch her on the news all the time, and we were anxious to get somebody who is younger and vibrant and has a vast resume. Rachel fits the bill perfectly,” said Helen Martin, a consortium officer who helped organize the event.
Grube is a historic performer and will present “A Conversation with Elizabeth Cady Stanton.” Grube has done a similar performance at prior symposiums, but due to its popularity, her performance has been scheduled to be after all the workshops are over, in order to give everyone a chance to attend.
The last symposium was held in 2017. It regularly occurred every other year, though the event scheduled for 2019 was slated to happen in 2020 instead, to commemorate 100 years of women’s suffrage. However, the pandemic thwarted those plans. Those who had registered for the 2020 symposium were able to have their fees held to guarantee registration for the next event, or have it refunded. Some chose to donate it to the consortium’s scholarship fund.
In addition to the activities schedule, there will be vendors on-site selling their crafts and wares, as well as breakfast and lunch provided. The event will end with a raffle, including a handmade sunflower quilt the organization has held onto since the canceled 2020 event.
If you would still like to register, the fee is $60 and forms can be found on ecswc.org under “Symposium.” Forms must be mailed no later than Tuesday to ensure timely delivery.