March is Women’s History Month!

Every year March is identified as Women’s History Month, designated by Presidential proclamation. The month is set aside to honor the vital contributions of women in American history, and to spotlight the importance of women in the present and their power to promote and ignite change.

Did You Know?: Women’s History Month started as Women’s History Week

Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978. The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day. The movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.

In 1980, a consortium of women’s groups and historians—led by the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women’s History Alliance)—successfully lobbied for national recognition. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week.

To help facilitate your research on Women’s History, check out Click! The Ongoing Feminist Revolution which launched in October of 2015. This resource highlights the collective action and individual achievements of women from the 1940s to the present and provides access to films and documentaries, photos, primary sources, and more!

Read on below for some activities to participate in and influential women of history for 2023 National Women’s Month:

Influential Women in History:

·       Sacagawea, who guided Lewis and Clark across the Louisiana Territory, all while carrying a baby on her back.

·       Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was one of the leading figures in the early Women’s Rights Movement.

·       Madam C.J. Walker was the first self-made woman millionaire. She did this by launching her own hair product business.

·       Marie Curie was a scientist who discovered Polonium and Radium. She also proved that atoms are not indivisible. Her work earned her TWO Nobel Prizes. Marie Curie is the first and only person in history to win two separate Nobel Prizes for two separate fields.

·       Frances Perkins became the first woman Secretary of Labor in 1933. Frances pushed for laws that would protect workers like requiring a minimum wage, work-hour limits, and the legal age to work.

·       Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress and she was the first Black woman to run for U.S. President.

·       Maya Lin became a famous architect after she won a contest to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. She later designed the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.

·       Misty Copeland became the first Black woman to be named a principal dancer in the 75-year history of the American Ballet Theater.

·       Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, as well as an award-winning writer and cum laude graduate of Harvard University, where she studied Sociology.

·       Kamala Harris On January 20, 2021, Kamala D. Harris became the first woman, the first African American woman, the first Indian-American, the first person of Asian-American descent, and the first graduate of an HBCU to be sworn in as the Vice President of the United States of America.

For more information on notable women in history, check out the National Women’s History Museums full list of biographies!

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