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Woman’s History Month Proves All Her Time isn’t Spent in the Kitchen


“When I started working on women’s history about 30 years ago, the field did not exist.  People didn’t think that women had a history worth knowing.”  

– Gerda Lerner, historian, 1986

Unfortunately, Gerda Lerner’s quote was pretty accurate back then thankfully there was a group of women who decided they had had enough of the lack of representation and formed The National Women’s History Project.  Before this project existed? Only about 3% of the content in historical texts was devoted to women! This left girls with few role models and both genders with the assumption that women did nothing at all of importance.

The National Women’s History Project’s simple goal is to teach as many people as possible about women’s roles in history through the art of storytelling.  Like sitting on your grandmother’s knee as she tells stories of her youth or your mother’s lap as she tells the story of her immigration to give you a better life these stories help preserve women’s legacies as well as their futures.

Women are often the keepers of family histories as well as the storytellers. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Imagine for a moment that you are the daughter of Lydia Taft as she describes the day she became the first woman to vote. Or you are the sister of Victoria Woodhull as she discusses her desire to run for president in 1871. Maybe you are one of the twelve sons and daughters influenced by your mother Lillian Moller Gilbreth, the first true industrial/organizational psychologist who pioneered applying scientific management to everyday tasks. Your family becomes the inspiration for the book Cheaper by the Dozen and you and your siblings go on to lead your own influential lives as authors, business people, teachers, engineers, and contributors to community service.

The rich tapestry of these stories becomes the very fabric of a family’s history and forever marks the profound impact of women’s efforts on our world.  To reflect on one simple act such as refusing to give up a seat on the bus like Rosa Parks did in December 1955 we must first explore the female influence that shaped her youth. Rosa’s grandmother, a former slave, was a strong advocate for racial equality and Rosa often cited in interviews that both her mother and grandmother were inspirational to her.  In turn, these stories, their stories, gave her the strength and self-confidence to make a history of her own.

This year, the theme of National Women’s History Month is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories” and they are spending all year (not just March 8th!) recognizing women from the past and the present who use any form of media (print, radio, TV, screen, radio, stage, blogs, etc.) to pass on women’s stories and heritage.  There are many women to honor and we highlight three that exemplify this year’s theme.

Toni Morrison – Not only was Morrison a teacher and notable author she had also been honored with a Pulitzer Prize in fiction, the Nobel Prize for Literature, was made an officer of the French Legion of  Honour, and was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Well known for her examination of the Black female experience within the Black community, Morrison’s poems and novels were born from the legacy of her own family’s storytelling, songs, and folktales.

Maxine Hong Kingston – As a first-generation Chinese American, author Kinston uses her cultural heritage to explore racial and sexual oppression and Chinese-American Culture.  Her books have won many awards beginning with her first, published in 1976, which combines myth, family history, folktales, and her memories of growing up in two different cultures.  The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts won the National Book Critic’s Circle award in nonfiction.  Today Kingston continues to write and in 2013 was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama who quoted that Kingston’s works “examine how the past influences our present and strengthens our understanding of Asian American identity, helping to shape our national conversation about culture, gender, and race.”

Marjory Stonham Douglas – This centenarian left quite a legacy of her own when she passed at the age of 108.  She accrued many honors from her earlier days of writing for The Miami Herald but she is best known for her passionate campaign to protect Florida’s Everglades.  Her bestseller published in 1947,  The Everglades: River of Grass, was critical in raising America’s consciousness of the subtropical wetlands from what many considered to be a swamp that needed to be drained and developed.  Her books and short shorties, both fiction and non-fiction particularly focused on women, the history and life in southern Florida, and environmental issues.  Stonham-Douglas was a tireless champion and at the age of 103, she was given the highest civilian award, the Medal of Freedom, by President Clinton for her crusade to preserve and restore the Everglades and as a leader of the women’s suffrage movement.  

As we celebrate the honorees who tirelessly tell their own and others’ stories during Women’s History Month we hope that you make time to reflect on your history too.  We’ll see you in the next blog!  

Deb Fries works with the Julianna Rae team to offer the best shopping experience for quality silk and cotton sleepwear while also writing for the blog at