In 1980, a small group of women in Santa Rosa, California, set out on a mission.
Noticing that only a miniscule percent of textbook content was devoted to the achievements and accomplishments of women in the United States, activists Molly Murphy MacGregor, Mary Ruthsdotter, Maria Cuevas, Paula Hammett and Bette Morgan set out not to rewrite history but to ensure it became more inclusive.
The National Women’s History Alliance, formerly the National Women’s History Project, successfully lobbied Congress to designate March as Women’s History Month and has since worked to recognize and celebrate the roles women have played in the building and strengthening of the nation. Through the years, the group has received numerous educational awards and honors for its efforts. In 1997, it launched an award-winning website to serve as a clearinghouse for multicultural women’s history information. The women’s history highlights for the month of April on the website include:
- April 2, 1931:17-year-old Jackie Mitchell, the second woman to play baseball in the all-male minor leagues, pitches an exhibition game against the New York Yankees and strikes out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The next day, the baseball commissioner voided her contract, claiming baseball was too strenuous for women. The ban was not overturned until 1992.
- April 5, 1911:100,000 to 500,000 people march in New York City to attend the funeral of seven unidentified victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire in late March.
- April 7, 1805:Sacagawea begins helping the Lewis and Clark Expedition as an interpreter.
- April 7, 1987:The opening of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., the first museum devoted to women artists, takes place.
- April 9, 1939:Marian Anderson sings an Easter Sunday concert for more than 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial.
- April 13, 1933:Ruth Bryan Owen is the first woman to represent the United States as a foreign minister when she is appointed as envoy to Denmark.
- April 16, 1912:Harriet Quimby becomes the first woman to fly an airplane across the English Channel.
- April 19, 1977:Fifteen women in the House of Representatives form the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues.
- April 22:This Earth Day, honor Rachel Carson, a woman who changed America and greatly influenced the environmental movement with her revolutionary book, “Silent Spring.”
- April 26, 1777:American Revolution heroine Sybil Ludington, 16, rides 40 miles on horseback in the middle of the night to warn the American militia that the British were invading.
- April 28, 1993:The first Take Our Daughters to Work Day, sponsored by the Ms. Foundation, takes place. In 2003 it became Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.
For more information on the National Women’s History Alliance, visit nwhp.org.