“If society will not admit of woman’s free development, then society must be remodeled.”
Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910),
the first U.S. female medical doctor
From time to time, beginning with Christine de Pizan in 1405, women’s history has been researched and written about, then lost. The National Women’s History Museum is hoping to change that. Currently, it exists only on line, but the effort is being made now to establish a brick and mortar museum in Washington, DC. The funds are being raised privately, but the location must be approved by Congress. Meryl Streep has thrown her support to the cause both financially and by participating in fundraising efforts.
I wasn’t aware of the project or the online museum until today, but I like what I see. Some of the exhibits include
- First But Not Last: Women Who Ran For President
- Clandestine Women: Spies in American History
- Latinas in the New World
- Chinese American Women: A History of Resilence and Resistance
- Claiming Their Citizenship: African American Women From 1624 – 2009
- Profiles in Motherhood
There is even an exhibit researched and written by teenagers with Girls Learn International, Inc. It highlights young women who are worthy role models. I admit I have only heard of 6 of the 30 young women listed. That’s actually embarrassing, but probably not surprising.
History is typically taught from an event perspective, or what I would call a top down approach with everything revolving around world wars, presidents, discovery of America, etc. There is really far too much valuable information to squeeze into the curriculum as it is. And of course, history keeps happening. Creative teachers find ways to inject additional information into the curriculum, but they might not even know about many of the women mentioned here. (Keep in mind, I was a math/science teacher not a history teacher.)
I think this resource could be very valuable to teachers and parents alike who want their students/children to have a more balanced perspective on history and women’s contributions to it. After all, we are half of the population and have made great contributions throughout history whether they have been highlighted or not.
For example, I knew about Victoria Woodhull, who announced her candidacy for president in 1870. Unfortunately for her, she wasn’t even old enough to take office and was actually in jail on election day. But I had never heard of Belva Lockwood (shown on the left) who ran for president on the National Equal Rights Party ticket in 1884. She was a lawyer who won the right for women to argue cases before the US Supreme Court. Only receiving 4000 votes, she wasn’t discouraged and ran again in 1888. Remember in 1884 women couldn’t even vote in most of the US. The 19th amendment allowing all US women citizens to vote wouldn’t happen until 1920.
There is a lot to learn at this site and I’m sure more is coming. Check it out. I bet you’ll like what you see. Let me know what you think and what you learned from it.