2010 will be the 30th anniversary of the National Women’s History Project. When we began mobilizing the lobbying effort that resulted in President Carter issuing a Presidential Proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980 as the first National Women’s History Week, we had no idea what the future would bring. And then, in 1987, another of our successful lobbying efforts resulted in Congress expanding the week into a month, and March is now National Women’s History Month.
The overarching theme for 2010 and our 30th Anniversary celebration is Writing Women Back into History. It often seems that the history of women is written in invisible ink. Even when recognized in their own times, women are frequently left out of the history books. To honor our 2010 theme, we are highlighting pivotal themes from previous years. Each of these past themes recognizes a different aspect of women’s achievements, from ecology to art, and from sports to politics.
When we began our work in the early eighties, the topic of women’s history was limited to college curricula, and even there it languished. At that time, less than 3% of the content of teacher training textbooks mentioned the contributions of women and when included, women were usually written in as mere footnotes. Women of color and women in fields such as math, science, and art were completely omitted. This limited inclusion of women’s accomplishments deprived students of viable female role models.
Today, when you search the Internet with the words “women’s +history + month,” you’ll find more than 40,500,000 citations. These extraordinary numbers give testimony to the tireless work of thousands of individuals, organizations, and institutions to write women back into history. Much of this work was made possible by the generous support of people like you.
We are inviting other women’s and educational organizations as well as women’s history performers, authors, historic sites, and museums, unions, military units, universities, and women’s history programs and parents, grandparents, and interested individuals to join us in recognizing the importance of women in history.
Now, more than ever, the work of this movement needs to continue and expand. Each new generation needs to draw information and inspiration from the last.