The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation is dedicated to educating current and future generations about Gage’s work and its power to drive contemporary social change.
At the heart of our mission is the story of Matilda Joslyn Gage, a progressive visionary of women’s rights and human liberation and an often unacknowledged leader who, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote the arguments, inspired the passions and, with Susan B. Anthony, organized the political action of the 19th century woman suffrage movement in the United States.
It is the story of a woman of courage and integrity publicly defying 19th century laws that forced complicity with slavery and denied woman their autonomy and liberty – including the right to vote.
It is the story of a remarkable corner of the world, now known as Central New York, a fount of free thought and radical activism for social justice.
It is the story of Native women whose political and social equality with men in the Haudenosaunee Confederacy helped convince Gage and her contemporaries that women’s subordination was neither natural nor ordained by God.
It is the story of a woman daring to challenge a harsh, misogynist theology dominating the churches of her day, a woman who dared to suggest that all women and men had the capacity and the responsibility to think for themselves about their relationship to what Gage called the “Motherhood and Fatherhood of God”.
It is the story of Gage leading and inspiring her son-in-law, Oz author L. Frank Baum, to conclude that the path to liberation involves uncovering one’s lost courage, intelligence and compassion and that behind the curtain of tyranny stands a buffoon who has lost his way.
It is the story of how a great feminist was once nearly lost to history because her life and ideas retained their power to threaten the forces of oppression.
Lastly, it is our story, the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation, dedicated to celebrating and promoting Gage’s legacy and the continuing significance of her life, her thought, her writings and her inspiration for the present and the future.
As Gage lived consistent with her values, our mission includes honoring her life by restoring, preserving and maintaining her home as a place where people can learn about her and her family and the life of a 19th Century activist.
As Gage was an historian and scholar, our mission includes creating and sustaining a library and writings that influenced her and works of authors influenced by her –thereby making her writing and her thought available to as broad an audience as possible and inspiring new generations of feminist thinkers and activists.
As Gage was a passionate campaigner for women’s rights and dignity, our mission includes communicating the conditions of women’s lives in Gage’s lifetime and educating about the 19th Century women’s rights movement, its relevance to contemporary life and the continuing work to eliminate all forms of unjust treatment of women.
As Gage was committed to ending slavery, our mission includes conducting educational programs on the abolitionists and Freedom Seekers of Central New York, the role and experiences of the Underground Railroad and the contributions of African Americans.
As Gage reminded her contemporaries of their special treaty obligations to the first nations of her region and was honorarily adopted into the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk Nation as “She Who Carries the Sky,” our mission includes carrying out projects that advance understanding of the six Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) nations culture and the meaning and history of Native sovereignty.
As Gage was part of a much broader community of social activists in the Finger Lakes/Central New York region devoted to abolition, women’s rights, free thought and the separation of Church and State, our mission includes promoting an understanding of our region as a wellspring of progressive social change, advancing the idea that this legacy is something in which to take pride and on which to build our region’s future.
As Gage was the mother-in-law of L. Frank Baum and an inspiration to him, our mission includes promoting an understanding of the Oz legacy and its cultural significance and peace and social justice themes.
Awarded one of the first doctorates in the country for work in women’s studies (UC Santa Cruz) and a founder of one of the first college-level women’s studies program in the United States (CSU Sacramento), Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner currently serves as an adjunct faculty member in The Renée Crown University Honors Program, Syracuse University and the St. John Fisher Executive Leadership Program.
Dr. Wagner was selected as one of “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s E-News in 2015.
Founder and Executive Director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center for Social Justice Dialogue in Fayetteville, NY. and author of articles on historic house museums, she received the Katherine Coffey Award for outstanding service to museology from the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums in 2012.
Christine Dettor, Board President
Christine has served as Past Chair of the Central New York Community Foundation and currently serves on its Audit Committee and as Chair of its Professional Advisors Council. Christine serves on the Boards of Loretto Management Corporation and Manlius Pebble Hill School. She is a member of the New York State Bar Association’s Audit Committee and serves as Co-Chair of the Charitable Organizations Committee of the Association’s Trusts & Estates Section. Christine is a frequent lecturer on issues pertaining to tax exempt organizations, trusts and estates and charitable planning.
Franklin is the president of the Old Salem Museums & Gardens in North Carolina. The 66-year-old institution includes the Historic Town of Salem, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, and the Gardens at Old Salem.
An internationally renowned thinker, writer, and consultant in the fields of historic preservation and museums, Vagnone is best known as the co-author of The Anarchist’s Guide to Historic House Museums, a best-selling, influential book on creative approaches to presenting the past. Vagnone also is the founder and president of Twisted Preservation Cultural Consulting in New York City, which he started in 2000.
Lee, a Financial Adviser with Prudential, describes in her Community Foundation profile her commitment to women’s programs, as a way to also describe her commitment to serving on the Gage Foundation board: “I was introduced to the Women’s Fund, an affiliate fund of the Community Foundation, and asked to serve on its governance council as a way to honor my sister-in-law, Joanne Reddick, after her death. I enjoy being around other women who share the passion for serving our community, so it was a perfect fit for me. The Women’s Fund supports programs that promote self-sufficiency for women and girls. In particular, it focuses on helping young girls to understand that the world is open to them and they can do whatever they choose to do. None of us would have gotten where we are today without somebody in our lives to encourage and mentor us, and many of the young people in our community do not have that. The Women’s Fund is helping to fill that gap and we are devoted to helping them achieve their goals.”
Michael Patrick Hearn
Gita Dorothy Morena
Robert and Clare Bau