In the United States, Women’s History Month traces its beginnings back to the first International Women’s Day in 1911. A pivotal conference held in 1979 was co-sponsored by Sarah Lawrence College, the Women’s Action Alliance, and the Smithsonian Institution.
This conference, a fifteen-day event about women’s history was held at Sarah Lawrence College from July 13 until July 29. Its participants decided to begin similar celebrations within their own organizations, communities, and school districts and agreed to support an effort to secure a National Women’s History Week.
In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week.
The proclamation stated:
“From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.
As Dr. Gerda Lerner has noted, ‘Women’s History is Women’s Right.’ It is an essential and indispensable heritage from which we can draw pride, comfort, courage, and long-range vision. I ask my fellow Americans to recognize this heritage with appropriate activities during National Women’s History Week, March 2–8, 1980.
I urge libraries, schools, and community organizations to focus their observances on the leaders who struggled for equality –Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Harriet Tubman, and Alice Paul.
Understanding the true history of our country will help us to comprehend the need for full equality under the law for all our people.”
In 1987 Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month.
Since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamation designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”
This month at the library we are proud to celebrate the women who came before and paved the way for a brighter future. Stop by to see our display and check out books about important women through history.