Emergence of Women's History
What factors contributed to the emergence of women's history?
The women's movement of the sixties caused women to question their invisibility in traditional American history texts. The movement also raised the aspirations as well as the opportunities of women, and produced a growing number of female historians. Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, one of the early women's historians, has remarked that "without question, our first inspiration was political. Aroused by feminist charges of economic and political discrimination...we turned to our history to trace the origins of women's second-class status."
The public celebration of women's history in this country began in 1978 as "Women's History Week". The week including March 8, International Women's Day, was selected. In 1981, Se. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) co-sponsored a joint Congressional resolution proclaiming a national Women's History Week. In 1987, Congress expanded the celebration to a month, and March was declared Women's History Month.
History of National Women's History Month
The first Presidential Proclamation was written by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. The first proclamation issued to the nation recognized and celebrated women's historic achievements. President Jimmy Carter's Message to the nation designated March 2-8, 1980 as National Women's History Week. Since then it has grown to cover the entire month of March.
Women of Black History (February)
Women are half the human race, and they're half of black history, as well. Here are some highlights bringing together black history and women's history. An ever-expanding list of resources for learning about famous African American women and other women of Black History. You'll find women who are famous and women who should be better-known, from early America and slavery to the 21st century, including the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights movement. Read more...
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May)
Hispanic & Latina Women's History (September/October)
American Indian Heritage Month (November)
Test Your Knowledge
- The Labor Movement which began as early as 1765 when women formed the first society of working women.
- The Women's Suffrage Movement which was launched in 1848 at the first women's right conference held at Seneca Falls, NY.
- The Civil Rights Movement in which women held a variety of roles from leadership to organizers to participants.
- The Women's Rights Movement which was re-energized in the 20th Century with what is called the Second Wave.
- The Environmental Movement in which women played a key role from the early 19th century and which was officially launched on Earth Day, April 22, 1970.
"When I started working on women's history about thirty years ago, the field did not exist. People didn't think that women had a history worth knowing."
- Gerda Lerner, Women and History (1986:1993)
"The history of all times, and of today especially, teaches that...women will be forgotten if they forget to think about themselves."
- Louise Otto, (Luise Otto-Peters), German feminist, 1849
"There is little place in the political scheme of things for an independent, creative personality, for a fighter. Anyone who takes that role must pay a price." - Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005)
"Giving kids clothes and food is one thing but it's much more important to teach them that other people besides themselves are important, and that the best thing they can do with their lives is to use them in the service of other people." - Dolores Huerta (b. 1930)
"I don't think anybody anywhere can talk about the future of their people or of an organization without talking about education. Whoever controls the education of our children controls our future." - Wilma Mankiller (1945-2010)