March 8, 2021 Courtney Napier

The Story Behind Women’s History Month

Like most good things in the world, Women’s History months started not with a grand strategic plan, but with a single person noticing a way she could enrich the people in her circle. What followed has become a celebration of stories that need telling, and people who need celebrating. A small, local effort has become a national celebration that enriches every neighborhood that participates.

When you start digging into women’s history, a lot of the advancements are probably more recent than you thought, even the creation of women’s history month.

Let’s connect the dots.

California teacher notices who’s left out

The origins of women’s history month are traced back to a school teacher in Sonoma County California in the 1970s. When she noticed there were not a lot of women in her students’ history books, she set out to change that.

In 1978, she helped to create a Women’s History Week for the district and the idea spread. Districts across the country started copying the curriculum and using the week to teach kids about unsung female heroes.

President Carter proclaimed Women’s History Week

Eventually word of what those school teachers were doing reached the White House.

In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter called that original teacher from Sonoma County, Molly Murphy MacGregor, to tell her he was proclaiming the week of March 8 National Women’s History Week. In the years that followed, President Reagan followed suit, issuing an annual proclamation designating Women’s History Week.

1987 Congress voted for month

It took a few more years for Women to get a whole month devoted to their contributions.

The Women’s National History Project lobbied Congress for a longer holiday. and in 1987, they passed a proclamation establishing Women’s History Month.

This article was first published by KHOU 11.

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