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The History of Women's History Month

March 19, 2015 - Barb Barrett
I did some more research and a colleague of mine sent me information on the proclamation of Women's History Month.

Women’s History Month was inspired by Molly Murphy MacGregor from California who realized that there was little known recorded history on the many aspirations of the women who forged ahead with their successes. MacGregor started to research famous women in the 70’s who improved education, mental health and medical care - women who worked to end slavery, and women who fought for the right to vote.

Many of these women were practically unheard of in early history books, and few books were written on women’s history, MacGregor realized after surveying many libraries. And what few were discovered, were “just collecting dust.” In 1978 she convinced county school administrators to proclaim the week of March 8th as Women’s History Week. Curriculum guides and classroom materials were created, and training for various women’s organizations to share the history of women in their fields.

Soon thereafter, other counties and states were inspired and began petitioning local governments to declare March 8 as Women’s History Week. It didn’t end there. In 1980 MacGregor was contacted by President Carter and a presidential proclamation was declared. The National Women’s History Project was formed to broadcast women’s historical achievements and the entire month of March, after much petitioning in Congress, was designated as Women’s History Month. The National Women’s History Project is self supporting through donations, teacher training conferences and the sale of women’s merchandise. MacGregor runs it from her home in Sonoma County with a part time staff of 4. A Women’s History Gazette and women’s history month kits are published for local non-profits and agencies. MacGregor said, “Discovering women’s history will inspire healing of social wounds.”

I encourage you to attend a program on March 27 at the Thomas Taber Museum as we unveil a special issue of West Branch Life featuring Lycoming County "Women of Distinction."


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