Portal:Women's history

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Introduction

Women's history is the study of the role that women have played in history and the methods required to do so. It includes the study of the history of the growth of woman's rights throughout recorded history, personal achievement over a period of time, the examination of individual and groups of women of historical significance, and the effect that historical events have had on women. Inherent in the study of women's history is the belief that more traditional recordings of history have minimized or ignored the contributions of women to different fields and the effect that historical events had on women as a whole; in this respect, women's history is often a form of historical revisionism, seeking to challenge or expand the traditional historical consensus.

The main centers of scholarship have been the United States and Britain, where second-wave feminist historians, influenced by the new approaches promoted by social history, led the way. As activists in women's liberation, discussing and analyzing the oppression and inequalities they experienced as women, they believed it imperative to learn about the lives of their fore mothers—and found very little scholarship in print. History was written mainly by men and about men's activities in the public sphere especially in Africa—war, politics, diplomacy and administration. Women are usually excluded and, when mentioned, are usually portrayed in sex-stereotypical roles such as wives, mothers, daughters, and mistresses. The study of history is value-laden in regard to what is considered historically "worthy." Other aspects of this area of study is the differences in women's lives caused by race, economic status, social status, and various other aspects of society.

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This mahogany tea table was used on July 16, 1848, to compose much of the first draft of the Declaration of Sentiments at the Seneca Falls Convention.

The Seneca Falls Convention was the first women's rights convention. In June 1848, two other conventions included a discussion the rights of women: Held in Seneca Falls, New York, it spanned two days over July 19–20, 1848. Attracting widespread attention, it was soon followed by other women's rights conventions, including the Rochester Women's Rights Convention in Rochester, New York, two weeks later. In 1850 the first in a series of annual National Women's Rights Conventions met in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Female Quakers local to the area organized the meeting along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was not a Quaker. They planned the event during a visit to the area by Philadelphia-based Lucretia Mott. Mott, a Quaker, was famous for her oratorical ability, which was rare for non-Quaker women during an era in which women were often not allowed to speak in public.

The meeting comprised six sessions including a lecture on law, a humorous presentation, and multiple discussions about the role of women in society. Stanton and the Quaker women presented two prepared documents, the Declaration of Sentiments and an accompanying list of resolutions, to be debated and modified before being put forward for signatures. A heated debate sprang up regarding women's right to vote, with many – including Mott – urging the removal of this concept, but Frederick Douglass, who was the convention's sole African American attendee, argued eloquently for its inclusion, and the suffrage resolution was retained. Exactly 100 of approximately 300 attendees signed the document, mostly women.

The convention was seen by some of its contemporaries, including featured speaker Mott, as one important step among many others in the continuing effort by women to gain for themselves a greater proportion of social, civil and moral rights, while it was viewed by others as a revolutionary beginning to the struggle by women for complete equality with men. Stanton considered the Seneca Falls Convention to be the beginning of the women's rights movement, an opinion that was echoed in the History of Woman Suffrage, which Stanton co-wrote.

The convention's Declaration of Sentiments became "the single most important factor in spreading news of the women's rights movement around the country in 1848 and into the future", according to Judith Wellman, a historian of the convention. By the time of the National Women's Rights Convention of 1851, the issue of women's right to vote had become a central tenet of the United States women's rights movement.

Selected biography

Dolores Huerta speaking at a campaign rally with former President Bill Clinton at Central High School in Phoenix, Arizona.

Dolores Huerta (born April 10, 1930) is an American labor leader and civil rights activist who was the co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW). Huerta helped organize the Delano grape strike in 1965 and was the lead negotiator in the workers’ contract that was created after the strike.

The originator of the phrase, "Sí se puede", Huerta has received numerous awards for her community service and advocacy for workers', immigrants', and women's rights, including the Eugene V. Debs Foundation Outstanding American Award, the United States Presidential Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was inducted in the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993, the first Latina inductee.

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Representative Patsy Mink announces the formation of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus at a press conference with (left to right) Representatives Don Edwards and Norman Mineta, Guam Delegate Robert Underwood, and Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Neil Abercrombie

It is easy enough to vote right and be consistently with the majority. But it is more often more important to be ahead of the majority and this means being willing to cut the first furrow in the ground and stand alone for a while if necessary.
Patsy Mink

Did you know?

  • ... that in an era when women of African descent had little access to education or public role models, the Black Cross Nurses (pictured) trained them in healthcare, allowing them to be seen in leadership roles? (February 18, 2016)

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