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Women's History Month

A brief history of Women's History Month

Timeline of Women's History Month

In 1980, the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) was founded in Santa Rosa, California by Molly Murphy MacGregor, Mary Ruthsdotter, Maria Cuevas, Paula Hammett and Bette Morgan to broadcast women’s historical achievements.

The NWHP started by leading a coalition that successfully lobbied Congress to designate March as National Women’s History Month, now celebrated across the land.

Today, the NWHP is known nationally as the only clearinghouse providing information and training in multicultural women’s history for educators, community organizations, and parents-for anyone wanting to expand their understanding of women contributions to U. S. history.


image of women holding handsNational Women’s History Project: From a Grassroots Organization into a National Institution Over 30 years of “Writing Women Back into History”

  • In 1980, we were a group of women who noticed that women were absent from our texts. No more than 3% of the content was devoted to women.
  • Girls had few role models. Girls and boys and many adults assumed women did nothing important. This perception needed to be addressed.
  • We convinced Congress and the White House of the need for our nation to celebrate and recognize women’s role in history on an annual basis. As a result of our efforts, the week of March 8th (International Women’s Day) was officially designated as National Women’s History Week. In 1987, we led the successful campaign to have the entire month of March declared National Women’s History Month.
  • We mobilize and unify the national celebrations of Women’s History Month in March each year by choosing an annual theme.
  • We promote a multicultural women’s history perspective by honoring women of diverse cultural, ethnic, occupational, racial, class, and regional backgrounds.
  • Today our aim is as clear and simple as it was 25 years ago: to teach as many people as possible about women’s role in history.
  • Every year we send out 100,000 catalogs and distribute tens of thousands of women’s history posters, celebratory materials, books, videos, and curriculum resources.
  • Our website has over 1,000,000 visitors a year. Additionally, we answer over 2,500 e-mails and letters each year from students, teachers, reporters, and other interested individuals requesting information.
  • We work with schools, colleges, companies, churches, clubs, communities, government offices, unions, publishers, and the media.
  • Our staff has conducted women’s history training sessions and women’s historic site tours in 42 states. We have trained over 30,000 teachers and federal program managers and have delivered over 2,500 speeches.
  • We created the national clearinghouse to provide multicultural women’s history information, materials, referrals, and strategies. This service also provides easy access to women’s history performers, organizations, museums, and historic site.
  • We have designed, developed, and produced more than 200 multicultural women’s history resource materials, such as videos, speeches, posters, celebratory items, guides, program kits, and curriculum units.
  • We established the NWHP Network to strengthen the connections between and among local, state, and national women’s history and educational organizations.
  • In 1995 and 1998, we created and led national campaigns to celebrate and recognize the work of women in expanding and enriching our democracy. In 1995, we celebrated the 75th anniversary of women in the United States winning the right to vote and in 1998 we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Women’s Rights Movement. These successful campaigns resulted in tens of thousands of local, state, and national celebrations. In 2005, we will celebrate the 85th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and the 25th anniversary of the women’s history movement.
  • Our staff has responded to more than 200,000 requests for information from students, teachers, authors, historians, librarians, corporate and government agency executives.
  • In 1997 we launched our website to serve as the digital clearinghouse for multicultural women’s history information. Today, our award-winning website is the first women’s history choice on all website search engines.
  • We have been honored to work with the President’s Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History. Our Executive Director was appointed by the White House to serve on the Congressional Commission on Women’s Historic Landmarks.
  • Our work has been recognized by a wide-range of educational organizations including the National Educational Association, the National Association for Multicultural Education, the Association for Gender Equity Leadership in Education, and the American Educational Research Association.
  • We are retelling history. And changing the future. We believe that knowing women’s history gives all of us—female and male—the power and inspiration to succeed. We believe that Our History Is Our Strength


The National Women’s History Project has been recognized for its groundbreaking work in education and its many nationally recognized programs and services by organizations throughout the country, including:

  • The National Association for Multicultural Education Award
  • The Jessie Bernard Wise Women Award from the Center for Women Policy Studies
  • The National Education Association’s prestigious Mary Hatwood Furtrell Award
  • The Myra Sadker Equity Award for their work in achievement in gender equity

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