Enhanced Freethought Trail Celebrates New York State’s Role in Women’s Suffrage and Radical Reform


For Immediate Release: February 28, 2020
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

As Americans commemorate one hundred years of women’s suffrage, the Freethought Trail, which celebrates west-central New York’s rich history as a hotbed of radical reform activism, is growing into an even richer experience both in person and online. 

The Freethought Trail, a project of the Center for Inquiry’s Council for Secular Humanism, is both a real-life historical experience and a deeply researched website that honors the legacy of west-central New York’s nineteenth-century radical reform movements for issues such as women’s rights, abolitionism, and secular humanism. In 2019, the number of historical sites on the Trail grew to 137 and dozens more are slated for 2020.

Celebrating Women’s Suffrage:

Starting in March, the Freethought Trail website will showcase its first new pages on the annual conventions of the New York Woman Suffrage Association held in west-central New York State between 1890 and 1914. This is the first of almost forty new pages that will be added to the Freethought Trail during 2020 as part of the Trail’s commemoration of the centenary of U.S. woman suffrage. New pages will go live in batches between early March and August 26, the actual 100th anniversary date of the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment. Learn more.

A Trail for Ingersoll:

The Freethought Trail is anchored by the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum, which honors the life and legacy of the era’s most celebrated orator, known as “the Great Agnostic.” Thanks to the trove of information made accessible by the recently reintroduced Ingersoll Chronology database, the Freethought Trail now offers a new Curated Trail specific to the places Ingersoll is known to have lectured in New York State. Freethought Trail Director Tom Flynn says the Curated Trail, at 460 miles long, is “the most thorough reconstruction of Ingersoll’s lecture sites for any region in America.” Learn more.

A New Marker for Freethought History:

For the first time, a freethinkers’ meeting site has received an official historical marker. In January, the William G. Pomeroy Foundation delivered a marker for the James Madison Cosad farmstead, the site of an August 1877 “Grove Meeting” that attracted an estimated 2000 people. This gave rise to the New York Freethinkers Association, which held seven important freethought conventions between 1878 and 1886. As far as we know, it is the only site of a freethought event acknowledged with an official marker anywhere in the United States. Learn more

Enhanced Website with Historical Events:

To prepare the Trail website to present this new material optimally, a new interpretive category—Events—was added. This required new programming by Ingenious Inc., designer of the website. Center for Inquiry personnel created some 137 new Events pages, the same number of pages created for historical sites since the Freethought Trail debuted in 2005. Content for the new pages was developed by Julia Lavarnway, managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, and Nicole Scott, managing editor of Free Inquiry magazine, of the Center for Inquiry’s editorial department. Learn more.

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.