March is Women's History Month, and in Philadelphia, there is no more appropriate place to celebrate than at the Betsy Ross House. Located at 239 Arch Street, in Old City, it has been open to the public as a museum since 1898. Today, it offers self-guided tours through urban living in the earliest days of the United States, through the life of Betsy Ross herself, and through the history -- and the legend -- of her creation of the American flag.
The museum features several areas restored to their period appearance, including a courtyard, parlor, and bedroom. It also features a recreation of the upholstery shop run by she and her husband John, complete with fabrics and tools of the trade, and a reproduction of Ross's original flag design.
There is some historical question as to whether the house had ever actually been occupied by Betsy Ross. Her daughter, Rachael Claypool Fletcher, swore in 1891 that it had. If this is the correct building, it would have housed Ross between 1773 and 1786, and been the location of her upholstery business. It would also be the site at which General George Washington is alleged to have commissioned Ross to create the flag.
Regardless of its geographic accuracy, the Betsy Ross House is a window into the blending of work- and home-life that is characteristic of the end of the colonial period, and the beginning of the Republic. And it offers a representative sample of women's lives during that era.
The Betsy Ross House is open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., every day between March and November. Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for children. And audio tours cost an extra $2 per person.
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