"People" Artist: James McNelis
Our History is Our Strength
by Sue Reichard
History looks different when the contributions of women are included.
March has been designated by Congress as National Women's History Month.
When the World Anti-Slavery Convention met in London during June 1840, the American delegation included women. After an extended debate, the convention ruled that only male delegates could be seated in the front. Among the women assigned to sit silently behind a curtain were Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Indignant that women had no rights, even within the ranks of reform movements, the two decided to hold a women's rights convention when they returned to America.
Using the Declaration of Independence as a model, Elizabeth Stanton wrote a Declaration of Sentiments to be presented at the Seneca Falls Convention. Beginning with the premise that all men and women are created equal," Stanton listed eighteen grievances suffered by women, including the denial of franchise and of the fights to their wages, their person, and their children. The document also called attention to women's limited educational and economic opportunities and protested against the double standard of morality.
On July 14, 1848, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Stanton issued a call in the Seneca Country Courier inviting the public to attend a convention at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York, on July 19 and 20, to discuss the social, civil and religious condition of women."
March 1998 will mark the 150th anniversary of the Women's Rights Movement in the United States. Seneca Falls, New York, was the sight of the first Women's Rights Convention ever held in 1848.
In March, for the twelfth consecutive year, the month will be celebrated as National Women's History Month.
The theme for this year's celebration is Living the Legacy of Women's Rights." Many people are totally unaware of the tremendous revolution that has occurred in this country.
Bonnie Eisenberg, the education director of the National Women's History Project (NWHP) states, The obstacles women have overcome in our 150-year quest for full rights as citizens have been quite astonishing. For example, when the Women's Rights Movement began in 1848, married women were considered legally dead. They could not own property, run their own businesses, sign contracts or claim for themselves what money they did earn. They were denied access to education and most professions discouraged them from voicing opinions in public. They were not allowed to keep their own names after marriage. Women were a property-less, subcitizen class. Yet, they determinedly lobbied for and won the vote in a 72-year peaceful challenge to the status quo.
The National Women's History Project is a non-profit organization, founded in 1980, that is committed to providing education, promotional materials, and information services to recognize and celebrate women's diverse lives and historic contributions to society.
The National Women's History Project is the source for updates about events, conferences, publications, films, and other resources related to United States history.
In 1987, the Women's History Project petitioned Congress to expand the national celebration to the entire month of March. Since then, the NWHP Month Resolution has been approved with the bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Each year programs and activities in schools, workplaces, and communities have become more extensive as information and program ideas have been developed and shared.
Under the guidance of the NWHP educators, workplaces, program planners, parents, and community organizations all over the country have turned National Women's History Month into a major celebration.
The National Women's History Project is also involved in many programs to promote multicultural women's history. They coordinate efforts with the Women's History Network to conduct teacher training conferences and supply material to people through the Women's History Catalog.
Is your community or local school district planning to celebrate March as National Women's History Month? If not, be informed and take the initiative to get this month of history noticed.
Women's history is the primary tool for women's emancipation." (Gerda Lerner, Ph.D.)
Please visit the website at: Living the Legacy 1848-1998
Sue is married and the mother of 4 children, 1 son and 3 daughters. Her family lives in beautiful Bradford Country in NE Pa. They have a 10-acre homestead and an old farmhouse which they have painstakingly remodeled. She is a children's book reviewer and also an elementary school teacher. She loves reading and writing, and she is a feature contributor to the local paper. She also reviews children's books for Children's Literature Newsletter and Young Adult Review.
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