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Women's History Month

The origin of Women's History Month began in 1981 when Congress passed Pub L. 97-28 that authorized the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as "Women's History Week." For the next five years, Congress continued this tradition of designating a week in March as "Women's History Week." In 1987, Congress finally passed a resolution to proclaim March of each year as Women's History Month.

Alice Peurala’s fight paved the way for an agreement (“The Consent Decree”) in 1974 signed by nine major steel companies, the United Steelworkers of America, the EEOC, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Labor that made strides in eliminating racial and gender discrimination in the steel industry. Alice went on to become the only woman to lead a basic steel unit in the nation. She was elected president of Local 65 of the United Steelworkers of America in 1979.

Mrs. Kennedy and her sister, Lee Radziwill, spend the final day of their March 1962 tour of Pakistan riding a camel.

The six plane factories of the Douglas Aircraft Company has been termed an industrial melting pot, since men and women of 58 national origins work side by side in pushing America's plane output. S. O. Porter, Douglas's director of personnel, recently declared that Negroes are doing an outstanding job in all plants. Luedell Mitchell and Lavada Cherry are shown in the El Segundo Plant of the Douglas Aircraft Company. 1941 - 1945. National Archives Identifier 535811

With nearly 1000 [African-American] women employed as burners, welders, scalers, and in other capacities at the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, California, women war workers played an important part in the construction of the Liberty Ship, SS George Washington Carver, launched on May 7th, 1943. Welder -trainee Josie Lucille Owens plies her trade on the ship., 1941 - 1945, National Archives Identifier 535803

Young women were a significant part of the Civil Rights movement and the March on Washington. One of the lesser-known facts about the March is that there were two lines of civil rights leaders marching on separate streets: one for male civil rights leaders and one for their female counterparts. Image: National Archives Identifier 542022.

Betsy Jochum was a leader in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League league. Players walked a fine line between new images of female athleticism and old notions of femininity. After the male players returned from World War II, the League lost financial support. It folded in 1954. Courtesy @Evelyn Spencer Museum of American History, Smithsonian Betsy Jochum Collection and featured in "Sports: Breaking Records, Breaking Barriers."

Fay Gillis Wells, featured in our archived exhibition "Women and Flight" exhibition, received her private pilot’s license in 1929 and was a founding member of the Ninety-Nines Inc. International Women Pilots. Photo by Carolyn Russo, Smithsonian Institution. #women #history #aviation

In 1925, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers led a strike against the Curlee Clothing Company in St. Louis demanding the right to organize protection against unfair discharge of workers, clean and sanitary working conditions, time and a half for overtime, and a wage increase of 25 per cent in the tailor shops and of various amounts in the cutting department. Image: National Archives Identifier 283591.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 lasted 18 minutes and left 146 workers dead. Among those who witnessed the tragedy was Frances Perkins, who would later become FDR’s Secretary of Labor, making her the first woman to serve in a Presidential cabinet. After the fire, Perkins was the secretary for the Committee on Safety,which led the way to 36 new labor laws, which included restrictions on child labor and working hours, and also providing compensation to workers injured on the job.

Susan B. Anthony voted in the 1872 election in Rochester, NY. She was arrested and charged with voting illegally. The court official who recorded the charges had to add an “s” to the form, amending the document to read “she.” This necessary court edit encapsulates what Anthony was fighting: the lack of voting rights denied because—“being then and there a person of the female sex.” Anthony was found guilty and fined $100, which she never paid.

Prologue: Pieces of History » History Crush: Susan B. Anthony

Lou Henry Hoover speaking from the President's Study in the White House on a special #GirlScouts program. Lou’s involvement with the Girl Scouts began during World War I, when she was asked to be a troop leader for a Washington, DC, scout troop. When Hoover joined the cabinet in 1921, Lou became even more active in the Girl Scouts. Lou received her pin from Girl Scout Founder Juliette Gordon Low in 1917.

Future First Lady Lou Henry posing on a burro at Acton, California, 8/22/1891 (Hoover Presidential Library) Lou Henry Hoover was a scientist, polyglot, author, Girl Scout supporter, and world traveler. She mixed smarts, practicality, and adventure. Apparently Herbert Hoover was charmed “by her whimsical mind, her blue eyes and a broad grinnish smile.”

During World War I, over 400 women enrolled in the U.S. Army Signal Corps to operate telephone switchboards in France. These girls came to be known as “Hello Girls” and could speak both English and French. Despite the sometimes hazardous conditions of their service, they were denied veterans status after the war ended. It would take 60 years until a bill was finally signed by President Carter granting them veterans status. (Image: National Archives Identifier 530718)

International Women’s Year was the name given to 1975 by the United Nations. On July 10 of that year the National Archives held the International Women’s Year Reception. Along with First Lady Betty Ford, Ms. Jill Ruckleshaus, Archivist James B. Rhoads, and General Services Administration Administrator Arthur Sampson were all in attendance. Image: National Archives Identifier: 186814

Mrs. Nancy Harkness Love, 28, director of the U.S. Women's Auxiliary Ferry Squadron, adjusts her helmet in the cockpit of an Army plane before taking off from an eastern United States base. The women under her command will ferry planes from factories to coastal airports, from which they will be flown to overseas battle fronts. (National Archives, Record Group 208, ARC 535775)

During World War II, the conservation of forests became a major effort for women on the home front. Realizing the need to protect forests for war production and for activities after the war, the Minnesota Foundation of Women’s Clubs held “Conservation Caravans” through parts of the Superior and Chippewa National Forests in June of 1940. Image: National Archives Identifier 2129402