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From the Past, for the Future:

Celebrating Women's History Month

With Selections from Special Collections

an Exhibition

March 1, 2011 - March 31, 2011

curated by
Maureen Cech

Women’s History Month raises awareness of the essential and influential roles women play in the development of our shared history Women’s History Week was recognized by Congress in 1981, and in 1987, Congress designated the month of March to the celebration of Women’s History in perpetuity.

Each year, the National Women’s History Project identifies a theme that highlights the multitude of ways in which women have contributed to community-building and nation-building. The theme for 2011 is “Our History Is Our Strength,” which captures the inspiration that learning about women’s stories provides. Historically, women have been unable or unwilling to tell their stories—the stories of countless women who have worked, dreamed, struggled, and succeeded must be heard and acknowledged. Their examples are ours to follow. Historian and Women’s History pioneer Gerda Lerner notably said, “Women’s History is woman’s right.” Women’s History as an area of academic discourse is relatively new; rather than inserting women into an androcentric paradigm, Women’s History seeks to ask a different set of questions to uncover, (re)locate, and evaluate the positions of women in various contexts.

The title of this exhibit, “From the Past, for the Future,” refers to the historical denigration and dismissal of the achievements of women and women's reluctance to commit their stories to writing. Biographies and autobiographies represent the acknowledgement of and effort to share women’s stories, which serve as a source of strength for current and future generations. This exhibit features examples of women’s biographies from the print holdings of Special Collections.

Barbaralee Diamonstein.

Open Secrets: Ninety-four Women in Touch with Our Time. New York: Viking Press, 1972.

The result of a survey of American women of “outstanding accomplishment,” Open Secrets documents the attitudes of these women in the early 1970s toward a variety of provocative issues, including aging, marriage, and gender roles. Among the women surveyed are Barbara Walters, Joyce Carole Oates, Billie Jean King, and Gloria Steinem, whose voices contribute to the unique record of the successful American woman in the second half of the twentieth century.

Jan Churchill.

On Wings to War: Teresa James, Aviator. Manhattan, Kan.: Sunflower University Press, 1992.

Aviator Teresa James was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), who transported airplanes from the manufacturer to United States military bases during World War II. These women flew every Air Force model manufactured at the time. James also worked as a stunt pilot to earn money, her specialty a 26-turn spin.

Jane Addams.

Twenty Years at Hull-House New York: The Macmillan Co., 1910.

Social reformer and activist Jane Addams (1860-1935) was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1931). Addams and fellow reformer Ellen Gates Starr established Hull-House in 1889 in Chicago, Illinois, to provide educational and social services for the working and immigrant populations. Addams and the other residents’ work extended into many areas of social welfare, human rights, and economic justice.

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