By Anne R., Reference Librarian
It's hard to believe, but Women's History Month is only 24 years old. It wasn't until 1987 that Congress declared March as National Women's History Month in perpetuity. This act was the culmination of efforts by many to gain official recognition for the contributions of women to United States history.
Prior to that, President Carter issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women's History Week. The National Women's History Project and other organizations then lobbied to have this recognition designated by a permanent month instead of a week that would change every year. By 1986, fourteen states had declared March as Women's History Month. This momentum and state-by-state action was used to lobby Congress to declare the entire month of March as National Women's History Month.
Here in Mid-Michigan, we are lucky to have a museum close by that celebrates women's achievements. The Michigan Women's Historical Center and Hall of Fame, located at 213 W. Main Street in Lansing, is a great place to learn about the role of women in Michigan history. The Center opened to the public on June 10, 1987, the anniversary of Michigan's ratification of the Women's Suffrage Amendment. Call 517-484-1880, or visit michiganwomenshalloffame.org for more information.
Some famous names in Michigan women's history include:
o Cora Mae Brown, the first African American woman state senator
o Ida Lippman, a pioneer for women in criminal justice
o Cora Reynolds Anderson, the only Native American woman ever elected to the Michigan House or Senate
o Anna Clemenc, a pioneer of the labor movement in Michigan.
Books and movies about women's history are as close as your local Capital Area District Library. A sample of titles about women collectively include: Sisters: The Lives of America's Suffragists; A Few Good Women-America's Military Women; Iron Jawed Angels; Hands on the Freedom Plow; and We Can Do It! A Celebration of Michigan Women.
Items about individual women in history include: Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony; The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; Life So Far (Betty Friedan); and America's Joan of Arc (Anna Elizabeth Dickinson). Find these and many more titles at cadl.org/catalog.
For much more about this topic, visit the National Women's History Project at nwhp.org.
The Capital Area District Library Reference Department is located at 401 S. Capitol Avenue in Lansing, MI. Contact them at 517-367-6346 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column was in the March 13, 2011 - March 26, 2011 edition.