Dr. Lydia Sayer Hasbrouck: Pioneer of the Women's Equality and Suffrage Movements
Lydia Sayer was born on Dec. 20, 1827 at her family home near Bellvale, a hamlet of the Town of Warwick, New York. The stone house she grew up in still stands on Route 17A nearly opposite Hickory Hill County Park.
As a child she was fearless, self-reliant, physically active, and skilled in horsemanship and the domestic arts. Keenly interested in books and learning, she was devastated when as a young woman she was refused admittance to nearby Seward Institute for her habitual mode of dress-- an adaptation of Turkish pantaloons with shortened skirt. In her own words,
“As I left…I fairly bathed my soul in an agony of tears and silent prayers….I registered a vow that I would stand or fall in the battle for women’s physical, political and educational freedom and equality."
Lydia finished her education elsewhere and around 1853 studied hydropathy at the Hygeia-Therapeutic College in New York. For Lydia, it was senseless to demand suffrage and equality while women were subjected to wearing garments which were cumbersome and restrictive to the point of having a negative impact on health; her early focus was therefore dress reform.
True to her vow as a teenager, she spent the rest of her days as a women's rights activist.