Monday, March 6, 2017

March is International Women's History Month

Group of women photographed walking along a street, 1920-1930. Wikimedia Commons. Item is held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.
Historically, women were cast into the shadow of their fathers, husbands, and sons, leaving little or no record of their existence or of their life experiences. Many women of the past have fought inequality and championed causes for the benefit of society, allowing future generations of women to reap the benefits of their work.

Harris & Ewing, Washington, D.C. [Pennsylvania on the Picket Line-- 1917]. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/mnwp000212/>
The first Women's Day was celebrated on February 28, 1909 in New York. Women's Day was celebrated annually for the next 68 years, mainly in socialist countries.   The United Nations officially recognized March 8 as International Women's Day in 1975 to honor our women. This was extended to include all of the month of March as International Women's History Month. Throughout the month, various community events and television presentations will be staged to look back on women's achievements.

Du Bois, W. E. B. , Collector, photographer by Askew, Thomas E., 1850?-1914. [Four African American women seated on steps of building at Atlanta University, Georgia]. [or 1900] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/95507126/>.
Not all achievements are world changing. The struggle to feed and clothe their children, as most of our ancestors did, is praiseworthy. President Trump issued a proclamation on March 1, 2017, proclaiming March as Women's History Month. The proclamation states, in part:
America honors the celebrated women pioneers and leaders in our history, as well as those unsung women heroes of our daily lives.  We honor those outstanding women, whose contributions to our Nation's life, culture, history, economy, and families have shaped us and helped us fulfill America's promise.

We cherish the incredible accomplishments of early American women, who helped found our Nation and explore the great western frontier.  Women have been steadfast throughout our battles to end slavery, as well as our battles abroad.  And American women fought for the civil rights of women and others in the suffrage and civil rights movements.  Millions of bold, fearless women have succeeded as entrepreneurs and in the workplace, all the while remaining the backbone of our families, our communities, and our country.
He calls upon all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. Here are a few ideas on how you can celebrate Women's History Month:
  1. Explore the Library of Congress' Women's History Site (https://www.loc.gov/). 
  2. Write stories about a few of the women in your family tree. Share the story with others in your family, or publish it on a blog, in Facebook, or in your online tree.
  3. Learn more about how to find your female ancestors by watching Judy G. Russel's class Mothers, Daughters, Wives: Tracing Female Lines on RootsTech 2017's Thursday session (https://www.rootstech.org/videos/judy-russell).
  4. Read a book about the social history of women to gain a better understanding of what your female ancestors' daily lives were like (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Women+social+history).
  5. Read a book about a woman or group of women that impacted your ancestor's, and your, lives. The presidential proclamation mentions many of those women by name (https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/01/president-donald-j-trump-proclaims-march-2017-womens-history-month).
If you have other ideas on how to honor our women, post them in the comments below.

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