Agency and Identity: Cherry Hill's Would-Be Sisters with The New York State Museum

Through the clothing, photographs, possessions, and accounts left behind by two Gilded Age women, Historic Cherry Hill’s director of education, Shawna Reilly, explores the lives of Kitty Putnam and Minnie Knapp in terms of their plights, identities, relative vulnerabilities, opportunities, and the choices they made within their prescribed social roles. Each came to Cherry Hill after her mother’s death to be raised by Van Rensselaer descendant Harriet Maria Elmendorf. Both wards, but not quite sisters, Kitty was herself a Van Rensselaer descendant while Minnie was likely descended from an enslaved woman named Dinah Jackson. Each called Harriet Maria “Ma,” but Minnie was raised as a servant, while Kitty would one day become the mistress of Cherry Hill.
(Recording of December 1, 2022, presentation at the NYSM.)

Presented in partnership with Historic Cherry Hill.


Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE)

The New York State Museum is an approved provider of Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE). Educators can earn CTLE credit by watching the webinar and completing the survey linked below. Please allow up to two weeks to receive confirmation of completion.

CTLE Credit (1 hour): Link to Onine Form for Agency & Identity