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 March on the website include:
* March 31, 1776: Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John, who is helping to frame the Declaration of Independence and cautioned, “Remember the ladies …”
* March 20, 1852: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was published and became the best-selling book of the 19th century.
* March 31, 1888: The National Council of Women of the U.S. was organized by Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Julia Ward Howe and Sojourner Truth among others, making it the oldest nonsectarian women’s organization in the United States.
* March 2, 1903: The Martha Washington Hotel opened in New York City, becoming the first hotel exclusively for women.
* March 17, 1910: Camp Fire Girls is established as the first interracial, nonsectarian American organization for girls.
* March 12, 1912: Juliette Gordon Low assembled 18 girls together in Savannah, Georgia, for the first-ever Girl Scout meeting.
* March 3, 1913: The Women’s Suffrage Procession is held in Washington, D.C., where over 8,000 women gathered to demand a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote.
* March 4, 1917: Jeannette Rankin, a Montana Republican, took her seat as the first female member of Congress.
* March 17, 1917: Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first woman to join the Navy and the first woman to officially join the military in a role other than a nurse.
* March 23, 1917: Virginia Woolf established the Hogarth Press with her husband, Leonard Woolf.
* March 4, 1933: Frances Perkins became the U.S. Secretary of Labor, the first female member of the United States Cabinet.
* March 13, 1986: Susan Butcher won the first of three straight and four total Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Races in Alaska.
* March 21, 1986: Debi Thomas became first African-American woman to win the World Figure Skating Championship.
* March 1, 1987: Congress passed a resolution designating March as Women’s History Month.
* March 12, 1993: Janet Reno was sworn in as the first woman U.S. attorney general.
* March 8, 2014: National Catholic Sisters Week was established to raise awareness of the contributions of Catholic sisters.
For more information on the National Women’s History Alliance, visit nwhp.org.
Tags: Women in history