Somehow or other I came to follow the National Women’s History Museum on Facebook. I think it is one of the best social media decisions I have ever made.
The National Women’s History Museum, which currently only exists online— they are raising funds and support in order to build a physical space— posts regularly about numerous and diverse women throughout (mostly) American history. I love stumbling upon these fascinating people as I scroll through my news feed. Sometimes the women they feature come from the recent past (1970s and onward), or even from current news and events, and other times they post about women from the early years of this country. The women come from all walks of life, races, classes, and ages. They recently featured an 11 year-old (Samantha Reed Smith)!
Through the NWHM I have learned about women like:
- Amanda Theodosia James – who lived in the 1800s, patented several canning techniques, and owned and ran her own canning and preserving business— that only hired women!
- Dr. Kazue Togasaki – a Japanese American doctor and one of the few physicians allowed to practice medicine during the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII
- Nannie Helen Burroughs – an African-American activist who in 1909 founded the National Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, D.C. to provide schooling for black students in the segregated south
Seeing these women and their stories whenever I am checking in with my social media has helped reinforce in me the reality that women have always been actively participating in history and changing their communities and the world. Too often we tell ourselves the single story that women have not been allowed to do this, or were stopped from doing that— that modern women are descendants of victims, whose agency, accomplishments, and opportunity were stolen or denied. But while women have and do face many obstacles, they have been subverting, defying and overcoming those obstacles since the very beginning. Remembering this gives me more strength and hope that I can do and be more as a woman despite deterrents, and that women as a whole can do more and become more. We can fight for our rights and dreams, and win! Don’t tell me I can’t!
And even though the NWHM’s mission is to “place women’s history along side current historical exhibitions” separately, “rather an rewriting current exhibitions” and figuring out where to “fit in women’s history,” I think it has been fundamental to my expanded understanding of history and women to see the stories of women mixed in among updates from friends, current news, and posts from other organizations that I follow. The stories are peppered throughout, side by side and interacting with everything— just like women!
I highly encourage you to follow NWHM on your social media. They are on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram.