Begun in 1978 and celebrated on March 8th to correspond with International Women’s Day, the first Women’s History Day celebration originated in Santa Rosa, California. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared the Week of March 8th, 1980 as National Women’s History Week, and, in 1987, Congress passed legislation to designate March as Women’s History Month. Historians, women’s organizations, and activists worked to secure this national recognition, and today, Women’s History Month provides students opportunities to celebrate and reflect upon the vital contributions made by women throughout history. These resources will allow students to dive deeper into the experiences of women who have contributed to positive change in their communities and around the world.
1) It’s an exciting time at the Smithsonian. Anthea Hartig was recently named the first woman director of the Museum of American History, and the Smithsonian’s Because of HERstory is a newly launched initiative which seeks to “research, collect, document, and display the compelling story of women.” Teachers and students can access millions of digital resources via The Smithsonian Learning Lab, a free interactive platform that allows users to search sources and create collections to share with other users. A simple search for AMERICAN WOMEN, for example, yields over 50 robust collections where students can explore the lives and experiences of women throughout our country’s history.
2) Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls, The wildly popular, best-selling book series by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo has made its podcast debut! Listeners can learn the hidden histories of notable women like Madam CJ Walker, Frida Kahlo, Billie Jean King, and Yusra Mardini, among many others. The “fairy tale podcasts about the women who inspire us” are 20 minutes long: perfect to utilize as part of lesson or to share with young listeners who want to learn more about history’s extraordinary women.
3) “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the fierce advocate for gender equality and the second woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court, is now a documentary film star. The hit film, “RBG,” is available for free on the PBS Newshour website, and educators can utilize the excellent questions provided to foster a discussion about her incomparable life and legacy.
4) The National Women’s History Museum website provides excellent resources for students who are investigating biographical information about women throughout history. In addition, the Museum has a large collection of lesson plans and resources for teachers that include compelling primary sources for students to examine and analyze. Educators and lovers of history will be excited about the many downloadable posters celebrating the achievements and activism of women.
5) Pearson recently launched a powerful online immersive experience for students: Project Imagine. The Project Imagine interactive modules allow students to deeply connect with the perspectives, decision making processes and personal experiences of people from the past, closely examine primary sources, and develop vital historical empathy skills. Within each of the American History modules, the rich experiences of women are featured. Students can explore the life situations, dwellings, work life, and activism of women from the dawn of the century through recent movements of liberation like the Movement For Black Lives.
About the Author: Meg Honey is a Humanities Curriculum Specialist with Pearson. She taught middle school and high school social studies for sixteen years and currently serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary’s College of California. Meg is a regular moderator of the Newmakers Speaker Series and featured in conversation with David McCullough, Martin Luther King III, and Michael Beschloss. She has presented about the FAIR Education Act to groups across California and moderated a statewide Twitter chat about its implementation as part of the California Teachers Summit. Meg earned a Master’s Degree in United States history at San Jose State University, is a certified educational trainer with the Southern Poverty Law Center, and was Mount Diablo Unified School District’s Teacher of the Year in 2017.