In a significant expansion, the Freethought Trail will open a major new presentation category: Events. Beginning in March, the Trail will interpret historic radical-reform activism in west-central New York State through the categories of Profiles (reformer biographies), Sites (historic places), and now Events.
This represents a major expansion for the Trail. At this writing the website offers Site pages for 137 historic sites and Profile pages for forty-two individuals and organizations. Current plans call for 137 Events pages to be added, the same as the current number of Sites pages developed throughout the Trail's operation.
"Previously the Freethought Trail chronicled events as part of its description of historical sites where events occurred," said Trail director Tom Flynn. "The story of a particular antislavery convention would appear on the web page about the meeting-hall where it was held. That posed a growing problem for covering an event that took place on multiple sites. The solution was the Events category. Each Events page will interpret a single event and provide links to each site—and each individual or organization—involved."
Ingenious Inc., developer of the current Trail website, provided the coding needed to create the new Events category. Meanwhile, at the Center for Inquiry Nicole Scott, managing editor of Free Inquiry magazine, and Julia Lavarnway, managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, undertook the daunting project to collect information on events from existing Site and Profile pages and develop the 137 Events pages, complete with text, images, and links. "The value of adding the Event category to the Freethought Trail website is immeasurable," said Scott. "The work we've done to create them will pay off in leaps and bounds," added Lavarnway.
Events pages will "go live" in batches, starting in early March. Visitors will immediately notice that the Trail homepage invites them to browse historic sites by Cause (abolition, woman's rights, etc.); Location (city or village); Those Involved (persons or organizations); Type (marked or unmarked site); and now by Event. "If someone wants to learn about, say, the twenty-ninth annual New York State woman suffrage convention held in Geneva in 1897," Flynn said, "there will be a page profiling that event specifically, with links to pages for each site and each person or organization involved." The posting of Events pages relating to currently public Sites should be completed during spring 2020.
In addition to the new Events pages, as its contribution to observance of the woman suffrage centenary in 2020, the Freethought Trail will add almost forty new Sites pages relating to statewide suffrage conventions held in west-central New York between 1890 and 1914. These new Sites pages will "go live" in batches between early March and August 26, the 100th anniversary date of women's right to vote in the United States. Each cluster of new Sites pertaining to a particular convention will be accompanied by an Events page specific to that convention. Most of the suffrage conventions took place at multiple locations, so the new Events category will be most helpful for their interpretation.
To access the new Events category (starting March 3, 2020), visit www.Freethought-Trail.org and scroll down to the headline "Browse Historical Sites." "By Event" will be among the options.
The Freethought Trail is a project of the Council for Secular Humanism, which also operates a museum at Ingersoll's birthplace in Dresden, New York. The Trail celebrates west-central New York's rich history as a hotbed of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century radical reform activism in areas such as abolitionism, woman's rights and suffrage, freethought, dress reform, Utopian communalism, and more. Visit www.freethought-trail.org.
About the image: This is the only known photo of Robert Green Ingersoll addressing an audience, May 30, 1884.