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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.


Women's History Month

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Our Presidents

Our Presidents • Fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory,...

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The National Women’s Party honored Betty Ford as the first recipient of the Alice Paul Award in 1975. The award’s namesake, Alice Paul, helped found the National Women’s Party. She also wrote the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment that was proposed in Congress in 1923. Mrs. Ford met with representatives from the National Women’s Party to officially accept the award at the White House on January 11, 1977. (Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum)

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum • The National Women’s Party honored Betty Ford as...

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Many of the people in the photographs in our #MonthOfMarchers series are not identified, but we know the identity of today’s marcher.Here is the story of Edith Lee-Payne, in her own words:In late October 2008, my cousin Marsha phoned saying she saw a picture of me on the cover of a 2009 Black History Calendar. She said I was holding a banner that read something about a march. I immediately recalled the March on Washington in August 28, 1963. She went on to say the picture was in a museum. From there my search to find the picture’s origin began.My search began with the Smithsonian since my only lead was a museum, and then on to the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. I am thankful to Jan Grenci of the Library of Congress, who located the photo online credited to the National Archives and Records Administration, while sending me other websites where the photo had been featured.My first contact with the National Archives was with the very kind and extremely patient and helpful Rutha Beamon. Not only did Ms. Beamon provide me ordering instructions, she informed me two other photos were taken at the March. These photos include my mother, making them especially memorable. My best description of this moment is “overwhelming.” Something I could never have imagined is reality. Grasping it is not easy.It is very humbling and gratifying to have been captured in photos viewed and used around the globe, by an unknown photographer that I have great respect, gratitude, and appreciation for. At that moment, the photographer captured my indescribable and unbelievable feelings as I listened and felt and saw, simultaneously, despair and hope on the faces of people around me, including my mother. It’s also humbling that my image identifies me as a civil rights demonstrator, associated with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the historic March on Washington that will be seen throughout history.It is with great pride and humility that I return to Washington, DC, to celebrate my sixtieth birthday and the dedication of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., National Monument. Although his dream is not yet realized, his tireless leadership to bring a nation together will never be diminished as I and others continue to keep the dream alive.

U.S. National Archives

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Many of the people in the photographs in our #MonthOfMarchers series are not identified, but we know the identity of today’s marcher.Here is the story of Edith Lee-Payne, in her own words:In late October 2008, my cousin Marsha phoned saying she saw a picture of me on the cover of a 2009 Black History Calendar. She said I was holding a banner that read something about a march. I immediately recalled the March on Washington in August 28, 1963. She went on to say the picture was in a museum. From there my search to find the picture’s origin began.My search began with the Smithsonian since my only lead was a museum, and then on to the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. I am thankful to Jan Grenci of the Library of Congress, who located the photo online credited to the National Archives and Records Administration, while sending me other websites where the photo had been featured.My first contact with the National Archives was with the very kind and extremely patient and helpful Rutha Beamon. Not only did Ms. Beamon provide me ordering instructions, she informed me two other photos were taken at the March. These photos include my mother, making them especially memorable. My best description of this moment is “overwhelming.” Something I could never have imagined is reality. Grasping it is not easy.It is very humbling and gratifying to have been captured in photos viewed and used around the globe, by an unknown photographer that I have great respect, gratitude, and appreciation for. At that moment, the photographer captured my indescribable and unbelievable feelings as I listened and felt and saw, simultaneously, despair and hope on the faces of people around me, including my mother. It’s also humbling that my image identifies me as a civil rights demonstrator, associated with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the historic March on Washington that will be seen throughout history.It is with great pride and humility that I return to Washington, DC, to celebrate my sixtieth birthday and the dedication of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., National Monument. Although his dream is not yet realized, his tireless leadership to bring a nation together will never be diminished as I and others continue to keep the dream alive.

U.S. National Archives

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Due to the restrictions of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the federal government closely documented and regulated Chinese men and women attending and presenting at the National Export Exposition, held in Philadelphia from September 14th to November 30th in 1899.

U.S. National Archives

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Part of the story of the real von Trapp family can be found in the records of the National Archives. Maria von Trapp’s certificate of arrival into Niagara Falls, NY, on December 30, 1942, authenticated that she arrived legally in the United States. (Records of District Courts of the United States, RG 21)

U.S. National Archives — Happy 50th Birthday to The Sound of Music! The...

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Mrs. Margaret M. H. Finch worked for the National Archives between 1940 and 1949. She knew the pension files from the nation’s first two wars better than anyone else, lovingly referring to them as her “heart throbs.”

U.S. National Archives — In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re...

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Bertha Lamme was as an engineer with the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company in the late 19th and early 20th century. In 1896, the New York Herald called her the “only woman electrical engineer in the country." She came to Pittsburgh after her 1893 graduation from Ohio State University.

U.S. National Archives — Another great collection that has received funding...

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Margaret Chase Smith succeeded her husband in the House of Representatives in 1940, the first woman to represent Maine in Congress. Later, she became both Maine’s first female Senator and the first woman to serve in both Houses of Congress in 1948. She rose to national prominence when she became the first in the Senate to denounce Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anticommunist campaign. (text via Margaret Chase Smith Library)

Miss Clara Barton, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865 by Mathew Brady (National Archives Identifier 526057)

Prologue: Pieces of History

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"Acetate Foil for Lamination" photo by Jackie Martin, International News Photos, 1946. Nationa Archives 64-NA-464

Prologue: Pieces of History » Mystery lady identified!

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Elizabeth Chambers's WASP portrait from her official personnel folders (OPF).

Prologue: Pieces of History » A WASP’s Story

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Service School Command, San Diego, California...Radioman third class Denita G. Harvey, left, of Los Angeles, California, checks a student's typing performance for accuracy following a timed drill. Miss Harvey is an instructor at the Navy Radioman "A" school. [African-American woman working.] (NAID 558536)

Rediscovering Black History

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"Cmdr. Thomas A. Gaylord, USN (Ret'd), administers oath to five new Navy nurses commissioned in New York..." (NAID 520618)

Rediscovering Black History

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"Inspecting a Grumman Wildcat engine on display at the U.S. Naval Training School (WR) Bronx, NY, where she is a `boot' is WAVE Apprentice Seaman Frances Bates." (NAID 520638)

Rediscovering Black History

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"Lt.(jg.) Harriet Ida Pickens and Ens. Frances Wills, first Negro Waves to be commissioned. They were members of the final graduating class at Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School (WR) Northampton, MA." (NAID 520670)

Rediscovering Black History

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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.

Prologue: Pieces of History

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Mary McLeod Bethune at the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA in Washington, D. C.

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

JFK Library on Twitter

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Minnie Spotted Wolf was the first #NativeAmerican woman to enlist in the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. Spotted Wolf served for four years in the Marines as a heavy equipment operator as well as a driver for visiting general officers on bases in both Hawaii and California.

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

Rediscovering Black History

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"... Welders Alivia Scott, Hattie Carpenter, and Flossie Burtos await an opportunity to weld their first piece of steel on the ship [SS George Washington Carver].", ca. 1943, National Archives Identifier 535800

Rediscovering Black History

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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

Rediscovering Black History

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"Bertha Stallworth, age 21, shown inspecting end of 40mm artillery cartridge case at Frankford Arsenal." ca. 1941 - ca. 1945 National Archives Identifier 535805

Rediscovering Black History

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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.