If I were organized, this would have been the first post. But I missed it. So here goes.
A Brief History/Herstory
[Originally based upon About Women’s History Month and written by me for WHM 2009]
In 1978, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women, in California, created a Women’s History Week. The committee chose the week of March 8 to coincide with International Women’s Day. The program was successful and well received and began to expand.
In 1979, organizers presented their project to the Women’s History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. Participants determined to celebrate their own Women’s History Week in their communities, and to petition Congress to declare a National Women’s History Week.
Two years later, in 1981, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) cosponsored the first Joint Congressional Resolution proclaiming Women’s History Week. Women’s History Week grew into Women’s History Month in 1987 and has been celebrated ever since.
This sample proclamation, reprinted from the National Woman’s History Project website, is based upon the Congressional Resolution first issued in 1987:
- Whereas American women of every race, class, and ethnic background have made historic contributions to the growth and strength of our Nation in countless recorded and unrecorded ways;
- Whereas American women have played and continue to play a critical economic, cultural, and social role in every sphere of the life of the Nation by constituting a significant portion of the labor force working inside and outside of the home;
- Whereas American women have played a unique role throughout the history of the Nation by providing the majority of the volunteer labor force of the Nation;
- Whereas American women were particularly important in the establishment of early charitable, philanthropic, and cultural institutions in our Nation;
- Whereas American women of every race, class, and ethnic background served as early leaders in the forefront of every major progressive social change movement;
- Whereas American women have been leaders, not only in securing their own rights of suffrage and equal opportunity, but also in the abolitionist movement, the emancipation movement, the industrial labor movement, the civil rights movement, and other movements, especially the peace movement, which create a more fair and just society for all; and
- Whereas despite these contributions, the role of American women in history has been consistently overlooked and undervalued, in the literature, teaching and study of American history:
- Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that March is designated as “Women’s History Month.” The President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation for each of these months, calling upon the people of the United States to observe those months with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
This year’s Presidential Proclamation–Women’s History Month 2011 by President Barack Obama (those three words still make me smile) is also quite nice. It begins “During Women’s History Month, we reflect on the extraordinary accomplishments of women and honor their role in shaping the course of our Nation’s history….In honor of the pioneering women who came before us, and in recognition of those who will come after us, this month, we recommit to erasing the remaining inequities facing women in our day.
“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2011 as Women’s History Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2011 with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that honor the history, accomplishments, and contributions of American women. I also invite all Americans to visit www.WomensHistoryMonth.gov to learn more about the generations of women who have shaped our history.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.