Antidote to anarchy: the Matilda Joslyn Gage House as a site of social justice dialogue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Responding to Franklin Vagnone and Deborah Ryan’s 2016 call for historic houses across the nation to change–to embrace anarchy–in order to ensure survival, this paper presents the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center (Fayetteville, NY) as a case study embodying an “antidote to anarchy.” In her home, this women’s rights activist is brought to life through her ideas, rather than solely her life events and personal possessions. The history presented, while historically accurate and authentic, is simultaneously inclusive and thought-provoking–creating a site of civic engagement and reflection. Throughout, the Gage house upsets traditional expectations of museum comportment in its encouragement of dialogue, its “disrespect” for artifacts, and its role as a site of activism as well as of history. The Gage home truly demonstrates how historic house museums have the potential to become important centers for cultural discourse, reverberating with contemporary audiences in innovative new ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-151
Number of pages18
JournalMuseums and Social Issues
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Haudenosaunee
  • Historic Houses
  • abolition
  • museum interpretation
  • women’s rights

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Museology


Dive into the research topics of 'Antidote to anarchy: the Matilda Joslyn Gage House as a site of social justice dialogue'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this