Our History is Our Strength

By Sarah

Our shared history unites families, communities, and nations.  Although women’s history is intertwined with the history shared with men, several factors – social, religious, economic, and biological – have worked to create a unique sphere of women’s history.

Courtesy of the American Memory Project

With ideas like coverture being the norm for years, women’s experiences in history were often silenced.  Their lack of autonomy within society often prevented their unique stories from being told to a wide audience.  If you disagree with these statements, I challenge you to take this quiz.  How many did you get correct?  How many of these women have you never heard of?  (I was a Women’s Studies major in college and even I didn’t do too well!)

I want to clarify that I’m not saying that our conventionally taught history is wrong and that men’s experiences are bad.  Rather, can’t we flesh out our understanding of the past by broadening our definition of history?  As perspective on our collective history has been reshaped, amazing stories have been told.  A wonderful place to start is the Women’s History Month page hosted by the Library of Congress.  You can find links to incredible online portrait exhibits, an online book about women serving for the National Park Service over the years, an exhibit on female parachutists who infiltrated enemy territory during WWII, and much more.  The Smithsonian Institute also has a wide array of resources online.

On a more local scale, you can check out the Women’s Work exhibit at the Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University.  The exhibit, which features displays on loan from the Appalachian Women’s Museum in Dillsboro, will run through Wednesday, June 8.

In Fontana Regional Library, you can find works about many notable (and not so well-known) women as well.  Of interest:

This is just a small sampling of what our local libraries have to offer on the subject of women’s history.  It would take the biggest post ever to enumerate all the different perspectives and stories we have in our collections.  To see a broader range of books, try searching “women and history” in our catalog and see what comes up.

3 thoughts on “Our History is Our Strength

  1. You know, now that I think about it, so much of history has been shepherded by women.

    When I was little, my Mom boycotted grapes in support of migrant farmworkers — a bit of revolution contained in my lunch bag.

    Maybe that’s how all of history moves forward. Not in actions on the battlefield, but on the ideas inculcated in the home.

    Thanks for “coverture.” I love learning new words and ideas!

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  2. I probably should have known what coverture is, but I didn’t. When I learned what it is, I was glad I had never run into it before. But, like Luke, I love new words and ideas and discovery, in general. Thanks for enlightening us, Sarah.

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  3. There are many people on the Women’s Quiz that are unfamiliar. The person that caught my attention is Mercy Otis Warren- satirical writer of plays concerning the American Revolution. Thanks for drawing me in!

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