March is Women’s History Month. Let’s dive into what led the month of March to be named to honor Women’s History.
Women are an important part of human history but for centuries their roles and participation have been ignored. Many early records didn’t include women at all unless they were a part of royalty. Many of our historical records are based on men and their points of view. That started to change in the 20th century when there started to be a push for women’s rights and recognition. The United States declared March as Women’s History Month starting in the 1980s to bring more recognition to how women have shaped our history.
In the mid-20th century, a group of feminist historians dived into research about women’s history. Due to early historical records not including women this was a difficult task. Many letters, diaries, documents, and books had to be reviewed again to search for traces of women’s roles.
In the late 1960s, professors and historians began teaching women’s history. Gerda Lerner and Sarah Lawrence teamed up and developed the country’s first master’s degree program in women’s history. Lerner was quoted in 1993 speaking of women’s history education up to that point as, “In my courses, the teachers told me about a world in which ostensibly one-half the human race is doing everything significant and the other half doesn’t exist. This is garbage, this is not the world I have experienced” (Blakemore, 2022). Lerner and Lawrence developed courses that provided education on women’s contributions to fields such as science, history, and politics.
Another monumental educator that helped develop classes about women’s role in history was Molly Murphy MacGregor. When teaching at a high school she wanted to teach a class on women’s history. The school administrators tried to cancel the class because they didn’t think there was enough material on women in history to be taught. Many years later, MacGregor was later quoted saying, “The history of women in the United States seemed to be written in invisible ink” (Blakemore, 2022).
These three women and others joined forces to create the National Women’s History Project which is known today as the National Women’s History Alliance. They helped bring attention to women’s roles in history and distribute educational material to schools on women’s history. Their efforts paid off in 1980 when President Jimmy Carter declared the beginning week of March as National Women’s History Week. He was quoted saying, “Understanding the true history of our country will help us to comprehend the need for full equality under the law for all our people” (Blakemore, 2022). In 1987, Congress declared the entire month of March as Women’s History Month. For more details and information on Women’s History Month check out:
Women’s History Month from womenshistory.gov
Women’s History Month 2022 from History.com
How Women Claimed Their Place In History Books from NationalGeographic.com
Blakemore, E. (2022, March 4). Why the U.S. celebrates women’s History Month every march. History. Retrieved March 12, 2022