“Women never did anything important. If they had it would be in the history books.”
So claims the father-in-law of National Women’s History Museum founder Karen Staser. Can you imagine spending holidays with that guy?
Still, he’s not alone. Most Americans grow up thinking men built the country single-handed, since women and their accomplishments are mere afterthoughts, if they appear in history books at all.
“We feel there have been so many remarkable contributions that women have made to this country that somebody needs to say, ‘Look this country would not be what it is today without the contributions of women. And not just as wives and mothers,” NWHM board member Linda Denny declared.
Several years ago Denny paged through her daughter’s history textbook and was shocked to find only three photos of women: female suffrage leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton, abolitionist Harriet Tubman, and suffragist Susan B. Anthony.
“There was a paragraph about three inches long and it covered the entire suffrage movement. [That movement] enfranchised over 50 percent of the citizens of this country and it deserved three inches in a history book?”
Incredulous? Yes, and on more than one account. Achieving the vote—after a 72-year battle that featured not only marching and petitions but also beating and starvation—was not the American woman’s sole achievement.
To show how fearless, ambitious, intelligent and determined women were throughout our 400+ year history and continue to be in this demanding 21st century, Staser, Denny and NWHM supporters built a magnificent website that strains beneath the load of female triumph.
Perusing one section alone will make you proud. Under Online Exhibits you can enlighten yourself about:
-Women who spied for the United States and those who ran for President;
-Women printers, publishers and journalists;
-African American and Chinese American women;
-Women in education, the labor force, the Olympics and early film;
-Women who picketed the White House and women who employed humor to help them win the vote;
-Women in World War II;
-Women reform leaders and women of the Progressive Era;
-Women of Jamestown;
-Women pioneers in state legislatures;
-Women considered worthy of a U.S. postage stamp.
The extraordinary Girls Changing History exhibit features unique role models for today’s young females. The Coalition Organizations exhibit discusses the missions of 41 women’s organizations that partner with NWHM.
The newest exhibit—”Profiles in Motherhood—explores the different facets of motherhood and includes reflections from working, stay-at-home, military, surrogate, foster, adoptive, birth and step-mothers.
Until the National Women’s History Museum builds a brick and mortar facility, its dynamic website will continue to honor women who had the courage and intelligence to think independently and to stand up when they were told to sit down.