Jessica Pritchard: Women’s History Month
Beginning with International Women’s Day in 1911, progressing to Women’s History Week in 1981, and expanding to an entire month in 1987, Women’s History Month, celebrated every March, has come quite a ways over the last century.
Compiled below is a list of a good number of web sites that highlight some of history’s most extraordinary women and give insight to their fight for gender equality.
Women’s History Month, a collaborative site by the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, can be used as a directory to other major sites spotlighting Women’s History Month. For instance, learn about the First Women’s Rights Convention in 1848 at the National Park Service. Scroll through Women of our Time: 20th Century Photographs from the National Portrait Gallery, which includes galleries with biographies on history’s notable women; biographical movements, featuring a video that shows how “photographs can document a life;” and photographic portraiture styles, also featuring a video that traces different ways of tackling the art form through history. Other resources include Women at War, a web site that traces twelve different women’s stories through four different wars (WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf), and For Teachers, a tool that allows users to browse other web sites that offer lesson plans thematically linked to Women’s History Month.
Remember the Ladies!, a web site created by the Tennessee State Library and Archives, studies women’s struggle for an equal voice, asserting that “this exhibit will have you wearing roses.” Investigate how Tennessee, the volunteer state, stood at the forefront of women’s suffrage at both the local and national levels and how these volunteer efforts played into the campaign to ratify the 19th amendment. This site tells a story through biographies, letters, quotes, documents, and photographs.
National Women’s History Project (NWHP) illustrates the link between women of our past and women of today: “We draw strength and inspiration from those who came before us – and those remarkable women working among us today. They are part of our story, and a truly balanced and inclusive history recognizes how important women have always been in American society.” Resources include everything from Q&A and background on Women’s History Month to the site’s blog,Writing Women Back Into History, which highlights some of history’s most extraordinary women.
National First Ladies’ Library (NFLL) attempts to fill the historical void that often plagues America’s First Ladies. You can meet the ladies, from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama. Read articles by Carl Sferrazza Anthony, the NFLL consulting historian, which are written in response to questions asked by users, with themes ranging from First Ladies’ fashion to family to personal interests. Peruse NFLL News Articles written by both outside news outlets and Anthony, as well as pieces that incorporate Anthony’s research. Finally, you can choose a First Lady from the site’s interactive timeline and implement the corresponding lesson plan into your classroom.
Women Who Changed History profiles Dr. Mae Jemison, Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, Sally Ride, and Melba Pattillo. Read about Women’s Suffrage, a resource complete with a brief history, popular terms, and a teacher’s guide for additional classroom activities. Test your knowledge of women’s history with the site’s quiz, explore the Harriet Tubman Web Hunt: Leading the Way to Freedom, and follow Elizabeth “Betty” Reillyas she tells her story about life on the American home front from Homemaker to Shipbuilder.
Edsitement’s feature on Women’s History month is rich in teaching resources with lesson plans spanning across the historical timeline. Find lesson plans, supplementary readings, and activities for use in the classroom. Explore everything from Chaucer’s Wife of Bath to History in Quilts to Scripting the Past: Exploring Women’s History Through Film. These lesson plans help bring women’s history to life in the classroom, suggesting activities that help students engage with the lessons. In the spirit of the month, Edsitement has also developed an “interactive publishing tool” that allows students to create a newspaper article on a women’s history topic of their choice. They can research notable women from all sorts of disciplines—art, literature, politics—using Edsitement reviewed and approved pages.
Special Interest Blogs
Four bloggers are currently participating in an online roundtable responding to Judith Bennett’s History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism:
- The Adventures of Notorious PhD, Girl Scholar: The first post of the series takes a look at the book from a medieval European historian perspective and asks, “Should politics be historical? Should history be political?”
- Historiann: Ann Little, an associate history professor at Colorado State University, has created a blog that explores History and Sexual Politics, 1492-the present. She offers a Colonial America perspective to the Bennett roundtable.
- Tenured Radical: Written by Claire Potter, a history and American history professor at Wesleyan University, this blog takes a more modern U.S. history perspective on Bennett’s book.
- Blogenspiel: According to the blog, another damned medievalist delivers her spiel on the online Bennett conversation the week of March 23.
- Judith Bennett herself will respond at Notorious PhD when all the blog posts have been made.
Civil War Women includes “biographies and stories about women of the Civil War era, how they lived, what they did to survive, how they fought for women’s rights.” Blogs are categorized on overarching themes that include generals’ wives, nurses, African American women, civilians, diarists, and doctors. In a similar vein, you may also want to check out History of American Women, which profiles Colonial women, Puritan women, slave women, and Native American women. Topics range from the Declaration of Independence to the Salem Witchcraft Trials to the Frontier.
History and Women: Wonderful, Wanton, and Wild Women of History, recipient of the Outstanding Historical Fiction Blog (which “recognize[s] blogs specifically beloved by historical novelists and their readers”) tells stories of empowered women through the ages. Contributors to the blog include Mirella Patzer, a historical fiction author; Greta Marlow, a communications professor; and Nan Hawthorne, a historical novelist.
Women and the Military
This Intrepid Band includes information about and conversations on women who have served as military nurses beginning with the Boer War between Britain and the Boer republics of Orange Free State and Transvaal up through WWI.
WASP on the Web looks at the first women trained in and able to fly American military aircraft. Play in the arcade that integrates WASP history with interactive games. Delve into the gallery that tells the stories of various WASP through photographs. My personal favorite is the interactive WASP scrapbook, which allows you to zoom in and out of photographs and virtually flip the pages as though the scrapbook was in front of you. Watch and listen to various audio/video clips, peruse 1944 records, and browse through resources (FAQ, facts, quotes, etc.).
Women Come to the Front, a Library of Congress web site, tells the stories of eight different women who were journalists, photographers, and broadcasters during WWII. The site says, “Their [the eight women] stories—drawn from private papers and photographs primarily in the Library of Congress collections—open a window on a generation of women who changed American society forever by securing a place for themselves in the workplace, in the newsroom, and on the battlefield.” You can read about their efforts in War, Women, and Opportunity.
What did you do in the war, Grandma? includes a series of oral histories on women from Rhode Island who were a part of WWII. High school students conducted these oral histories for one of their English classes. You can read an introduction to the project and an explanation on why and how English can be taught via oral history. The site also includes two scholarly articles, It was Everybody’s Warby William MetzandWomen and WWII by Sharon Hartman Strom (Univ. of Rhode Island), as well as a glossary and timeline.
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