As recently as the 1970’s, women’s history was virtually an unknown topic. In 1979, Molly Murphy MacGregor was invited to participate in The Women’s History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, which was chaired by noted historian, Gerda Lerner and attended by the national leaders of organizations for women and girls. Out of this came National Women’s History week in 1981, to recognize, honor and celebrate the achievements of American women.
Word spread rapidly and state departments, city councils, governors, school boards, and educational institutions encouraged and engaged in these celebrations and even the U.S. Congress supported the effort. Curriculum was developed for public schools, essay contests were sponsored and special events and programs held. Within only a few years thousands were celebrating Women’s History Week.
By 1986 14 states had already declared March as Women’s History Month. State by state action was used as the rational to lobby Congress to declare the entire month of March National Women’s History Mont in perpetuity. In 1987, Congress declared it so. A special Presidential Proclamation is issued every year which honors the extraordinary achievements of American women.
The words of President Jimmy Carter from 1980 still echo true and clear:
“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 so well.”
HerStory strives to keep women’s history in the forefront throughout the year, by presenting a new woman each month, as well as others that may make themselves known along the way. Our History Is Our Strength