Susan B. Anthony’s reaction to an eclipse: ‘Pleasant’

How did Susan B. Anthony react to an eclipse?

How did Susan B. Anthony react to an eclipse?

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — We’re now a little over a week away from the solar eclipse. And through unearthed notes and diaries, we now have the chance to experience the eclipse through the eyes of a legendary Rochesterian.

Millions of people will soon be able to say they experienced a total solar eclipse — a shared moment in history connecting us to those who gazed skyward long before us.

So the leaders at the Susan B. Anthony House wanted to know how their favorite trailblazer may have reacted to the celestial event.

They had one question.

“We were also very interested to know if Susan B Anthony ever experienced an eclipse in her lifetime,” said Aimee Kuiper, director of communications for the Susan B. Anthony House.

As one of the most famous Rochesterians and leader in women’s rights, Susan B. saw a lot and has the records to prove it. So their staff started searching.

“Our research team looked at NASA’s database to see if any eclipse happens during Susan B. Anthony’s lifetime. Then we cross-referenced those dates with her journal entries to see if she mentioned an eclipse in any of those, and we found out that she did,” Kuiper said.

In October 1865, Susan B. saw an annual eclipse and, like she usually did, recorded her reaction. Her entry that day may not be what you’d expect.

“She did write her wonderful review, which was, ‘eclipse of the sun. Pleasant,'” Kuiper said.

For a woman known for her thoughtful, verbose speeches, Anthony’s reaction to a once-in-a-lifetime event may look disappointing. But staff says that’s not the case.

“So there are many times that Susan B. writes paragraphs and paragraphs. She’s a wonderful speech writer, but when she’s on the road, she’s a very busy woman so we find that her journal entries from when she’s traveling are very short and sweet, to the point.” Kuiper noted.

The quote is now a staple in how the Susan B. Anthony House and Museum is connecting the history of the past to the present. The museum is selling eclipse T-shirts and other limited-edition items to celebrate the event. It’s also hosting an event on the day of the eclipse at the Susan B. Anthony Square Park, and you’re welcome to join them.