Highlighting the vital role played by women in history is the goal of Her- Story. Women have always been driven by their dreams, which has resulted in amazing accomplishments. We draw inspiration and strength from those who came before us. They are part of our own story. Only through an inclusive and balanced “history” can we know and celebrate how important women have always been in our country, in society and in the world. We celebrate Women’s History Month each year in March, which highlights the contributions of women to historical events as well as events in contemporary times. It is celebrated in the U.S. the U.K and Australia.
In the U.S., Women’s History Month dates back to 1910-11 in remembrance of a strike of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union that took place in Chicago, known as the Hart, Scahffner and Marx strike. Women showed their capability to unify ethnic boundaries in response to an industry infamous for low wages, long hours – sometimes 75 hours a week – and poor conditions. The strike began with 16 women protesting; soon 2,100 others joined and eventually 41,000 women walked off the job and stayed out for 14 weeks until some of their demands for better conditions were met.
Later, it commemorated the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 in Manhattan when 146 women perished. They were mostly young, some only teens who were immigrants and spoke little or no English, and were working 12 hours a day every day. They either died in the fire that broke out of the eighth floor of the wood frame building or died as a result of jumping out the windows to the sidewalks below. They couldn’t escape because the doors were locked to prevent them from stealing or taking unauthorized breaks. An unauthorized break often meant taking time out to run down eight flights of stairs to use the outhouse located in the back yard of the factory.
In the words of President Carter in 1980: “From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the First American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength, and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know well.”
Some women you may not know but would probably find inspiring or at least interesting who were born in March:
- Hallie Quinn Brown, educator, activist, black historian, and suffragist
- Jane Arminda Delano, unified the nursing associations of the Army Nurse Corps and the Red Cross during WW I
- Rebecca Gratz, educator, visionary and aid worker
- Alice Henry, activist, educator, writer and feminist
- Jessie Donalson Hodder, women’s prison reformer
- Myrtilla Miner a Quaker educator who opened a Colored Girls School in Washington, D.C.
- Emily Elizabeth Parsons, Civil War Nurse
- Norma Collins Roberts, Farmer, writer and author of the Yankee Cookbook
- Sarah Royce, a strong American pioneer Woman
- Agnes Repplier, a rebel with degrees from University of Pennsylvania, Temple, Yale, Columbia, Marquette, and Princeton
- Lillian Welsh, an educator, and physician
- Candice Thurber Wheeler, artist, organizer, established the Society of Decorative Art in New York City and the Women’s Exchange
- Narcissa Whitman, first white woman to cross the Continental Divide.
Margaret “Midge” Kirk is a slightly eccentric artist, writer, bibliophile, feminist scholar and hobby historian who lives in the SW corner of Colorado. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website www.herstory-online.com.