Weekly Feature

susan b anthony
Susan B. Anthony

Women’s History Month: Women Make History

March 01, 2011
by findingDulcinea Staff
March is Women's History Month; time to pay tribute to the contributions women have made over the centuries. The following resources illustrate how women gained suffrage in the U.S., how women’s history emerged as a field of study and the influence of heroic women the world over.

Women in American History

The concept of women’s history is relatively new. The feminist movement of the 1960s and the changing approach to history as a field of social as well as political study gave rise to the specific exploration of women’s history. Women’s History Month has its official origins in 1978, when "Women's History Week," was publicly celebrated in Sonoma County, California.

Of course, the history of women existed long before women's history became an official field of study. Middle Tennessee State University offers a series of timelines that cover the history of American women, from prehistory through the modern era. The site provides links to NPR broadcasts, primary sources, online museums, as well as the bare facts: The first child of English parents born in the New World (in 1587) was—that's right—female: little Virginia Dare.

One of the major turning points in American women’s history was the women’s suffrage movement. Prior to its inception at the Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848, women were considered second-class citizens in the United States, and did not have the right to vote. The History Channel offers the context and history of the revolutionary era, including a timeline and firsts in women’s achievement. 

Words and Acts of Influence

Communication was one of the most essential elements in gaining women’s rights and remains so today. Women throughout history have used words wisely to illustrate their intelligence and merit. Sweet Briar College offers a database of speeches by women throughout the women’s history movement, from Lucretia Mott's "Discourse on Women" in 1849 to Condoleezza Rice's remarks at a Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in 2006.

Today, women’s history is observed and appreciated across the globe. According to the Internet Women’s History Sourcebook, hosted by Fordham University, academics have taken several approaches to understanding women throughout history, including profiling great women, examining the history of female oppression and focusing on the roles of women both past and present.

In the past few decades, women have broken into industries previously unavailable to them and gained new prominence in familiar ones. For example, female athletes have emerged as sports heroes and role models for both sexes. Learn about tennis stars Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, basketball star Cheryl Miller, soccer standout Mia Hamm and dozens of other female athletes at Sports Illustrated’s “100 Greatest Female Athletes.”

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