Lucretia Mott, a founder of Swarthmore College known for her anti-slavery and equal rights work, serves as the first subject in the new documentary series The Women of Philadelphia: A Documentary. Using images from Friends Historical Library (FHL), “Lucretia Mott: Philadelphia's Revolutionary” also features interviews with curator Christopher Densmore and author and Mott scholar Jamie Stiehm '82.
The Women of Philadelphia is the first series on the history of the city as seen through the perspectives, contributions, and impacts of women. Produced by History Making Productions (HMP), the series aims to inspire collective action and civic pride by revealing how women significantly shaped Philadelphia. With Mott's contributions during her lifetime, she was a natural choice for the series, and with Mott's papers as well as other archival materials available at FHL, it was natural for the filmmakers to approach Densmore.
Densmore supplied images and was interviewed for the video, but it was HMP who selected and edited the raw materials. “[I] loved it,” he says of the final product. “I've passed on the links to several historians, including two who have written extensively about Mott, and they also loved it." However, he adds, "With six minutes, interesting pictures, and smart commentary, it is the sort of thing you can recommend to anyone, not just Lucretia Mott fans.”
The short video provides a great introduction to Mott, though Densmore says including all the highlights of Mott’s life would result in at least an hour-long film that would still feel incomplete. “They managed to include a lot: Mott as an abolitionist, Mott as a pioneer of the woman's rights movement, Mott as a person,” he explains.
Densmore summarizes Mott's importance: “When people first began to criticize slavery or the treatment of women, most people saw them as misguided and hopeless people trying to undo the natural order of the world. By the time Mott died in 1880, slavery had been dead in the United States for 15 years. Women still did not have the right to vote in 1880, but woman's suffrage had become a national movement whose adherents thought that women voting was not just a good idea, but was inevitable."