Summer 2017 Women’s History Events

June 22nd, 2017

Coming to the DC area? Here are some Summer 2017 Women’s History Events

There are many wonderful museums in Washington, DC that have planned terrific women’s history programs this summer. Some of our favorites are listed below.

Walking Tours with National Women’s History Museum

National Women’s History Museum is excited to offer two unique walking tours. Women of Civil War Alexandria discusses women’s roles during the Civil War in Alexandria, Virginia. In Their Footsteps: Woman Suffrage follows the route of the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession through DC and discusses the struggle for equality and the right to vote that lasted over 72 years. Private tours are also available.

Click here to buy tickets.

The Hello Girls: America’s First Female Soldiers in War Abroad – and at Home at the Smithsonian

Join historian Elizabeth Cobbs as she discusses her newest book The Hello Girls. Her book tells the story of the first women to serve in the United States Army as part of the Signal Corps during World War I. Dr. Cobbs will be interviewed by Cokie Roberts to discuss the significance of the Hello Girls’ contribution to the Allied victory in World War I and the progression of women’s rights. The Hello Girls will be available for signing. Member pricing available. Charter Members contact to receive the promo code.

Click here to buy tickets.

Women of Mount Vernon Tour at George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Learn about some of the incredible women who lived and worked at Mount Vernon during George Washington’s time as well as the women who came later and were instrumental in saving and preserving Washington’s beloved home.

Click here to buy tickets.

Records of Rights at the National Archives

America’s founding documents – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights – are icons of human liberty. But the ideals enshrined in those documents did not initially apply to all Americans. Women, one of the largest groups of United States citizens, could not vote until 1920. Nevertheless, records from as early as 1804 show women organizing and striving for full equality. The exhibition showcases original and facsimile National Archives documents.

Click here to learn more.

196 Countries Solo, As A Woman

June 10th, 2017

At some point in our lives, we become inspired and almost transcended by the actions of others whom we look up to with awe. Some of us so much so, that we want to march to the beat of their drum, to frolic in their footsteps, and to taste the air that they breathe. Everything I had done in my life prior to Expedition 196, was with the intention that I had the ability to do anything men could do. I never wanted to succumb to the notion that; “just because I’m a woman, I’m automatically limited.” Flash forward to July 24th, 2015, my biggest fear was literally stepping foot on to the plane, and flying 38,000 feet in the air and over the Pacific to destination number one, Palau. At the bottom of my list of fears, was kidnapping, and that fear didn’t resurface until I was in country number 196: Yemen. Ironically, the prominent fear of kidnapping wasn’t that of my own, but of what others around me were telling me.

Credit: Cassie De Pecol

Credit: Cassie De Pecol

Research and tactical knowledge was what I needed to make this Expedition a success, and through research, came motivation and yearning that inevitably drove me to pursue this odyssey. Amelia Earhart, someone I’ve always looked up to, had been a woman of courage, fortitude, and unforgiving passion to forge her own path. Prior to my departure, when I was researching women who have traveled the world, there was one woman in particular who’s story really struck a chord. There’s a fascinating story about a woman named Jeanne Baret, who was the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. It baffled me that someone could do such a thing and stay safe, let alone as a woman in the mid 1700’s, with no modern technology. But the fascinating thing about it was that she did it dressed as a man. I wondered if this classified being able to have the bragging rights to say that she circumnavigated the world as a woman, but at the same time, you have to give her an immense amount of credit for being so crafty as to do so dressed as a man. How quirky yet meaningful in the way women viewed travel back then.

Credit: Cassie De Pecol

Credit: Cassie De Pecol

Back in 1890, Nellie Bly raced around the world in 72 days. Her story resonated with me because she broke Jules Verne’s fictional record of 80 days. She persisted as a journalist and female explorer, while at the same time being tested by her male counterparts as she attempted to get her story out there. What she did was intriguing to me in that sense as she paved the way into history.

Credit: Cassie De Pecol

Credit: Cassie De Pecol

There are some unavoidable conflicts that are impossible to avoid as a woman due to our genetic makeup, which scares me. With that said, the fear that we instill in our minds as women of something bad happening to us if we do something alone, is immense to the point of unnecessarily extreme fear. As women, it’s crucial to always be aware of our surroundings and know the dangers, but let us not allow fear to hold us back from pursuing anything from our dreams to the other side of the spectrum; what only men have done up until this point. Moving forward, I believe that it’s not necessarily group strength, coming together as women, but finding the strength within each and every one of us enough to love ourselves and have confidence enough to know ourselves and allow the fires within us to shine through our movements and actions, in a positive and influential way. Too often, we seek strength from others, when in truth; the strength we seek can be found within ourselves. Women, both young and old, are at the greatest advantage to push boundaries, test current limitations, and strive forward to shift our world in a positive direction for women empowerment. With each “risk” we take as individuals, be it traveling to 196 countries or strengthening our institutions with female driven power, we enhance and educate our world, leaving behind a legacy for future generations of young women. This is what is vital towards crafting a powerful future for womankind and adventurers alike.


By Cassie De Pecol  |  Expedition 196


Credit: Irvin Rivera | Graphics Metropolis

Credit: Irvin Rivera | Graphics Metropolis

Cassie De Pecol is a 27-year-old woman from the USA who in July of 2015, took off on a 196 country solo expedition in an effort to break a Guinness World Record to be the fastest person and first woman on record to travel to every country in the world. In February of 2017, she did just that. While spending the 18-month journey as a global Peace Ambassador and sustainable tourism advocate, she spoke to over 16,000 university students around the world across 40 countries, discussing the importance of women’s achievement and responsible tourism which encompassed the planting of trees to offset her carbon footprint, and collecting water samples to test for micro plastics. She broke two Guinness World Records; ‘Fastest Person’ and ‘Fastest Female’ to travel to every sovereign nation and will be publishing a memoir, launching a non-profit, and releasing an educational documentary in the near future. A triathlete and student of Krav Maga, Cassie’s goals have always been fitness/health focused, and during her travels she made it a priority to train as well as partake in distance races.Cassie hopes to inspire women of all ages and specifically future generations to pursue their passions through travel and living a healthy lifestyle.


Follow Cassie on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat: @cassiedepecol. Find her on Facebook, YouTube, and her website

Cassie De Pecol isn’t the only one encouraging women to spend time outside. Click here to read about a group that has been doing so for over 100 years


Female Adventurers

June 10th, 2017

For centuries, women have been told to stay home, take care of the cooking and cleaning, and don’t push the boundaries. Read about seven incredible women who challenged stereotypes and paved the way to give thousands of women the chance to spend time in the great outdoors.

Want to learn more about Cassie De Pecol’s trip around the world? Click here.

What Did Girls Want? Independence, Challenge, and a Cool Uniform

June 10th, 2017

Just over one hundred years ago, in 1916, a newly published book encouraged girls to build electromagnets, study the aerodynamics of flight, and send messages using Morse code. It instructed girls in the mechanics of pitching a tent, building a campfire, and using a compass. In a society that adhered to Victorian beliefs that there were “boy” activities and “girl” activities, emboldening girls to become knowledgeable and proficient in non-traditionally feminine skills was somewhat radical.

What was the title of this revolutionary publication? How Girls Can Help Their Country: A Handbook for Girl Scouts. The author was Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA.


Low was introduced to scouting in Great Britain, becoming close friends with Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, and his sister Agnes Baden-Powell, who founded a sister organization. The overwhelmingly positive reaction of girl to becoming British Girl Guides encouraged Low’s belief that all girls would benefit from scouting. She formed the first American Girl Scout troop in Savannah in 1912.

The turn of the 20th century saw many changes and challenges old ideas. Women increasingly confronted social conventions that discouraged them from going to college, finding constructive work, or participating in civic life. In a changing world, many parents feared that scouting would encourage girls to become tomboys. Low and the women who helped her to establish troops understood the challenges but also the potential rewards. “If you asked her daughter [why she wants to participate],” Low said talking about the rewards of scouting, “She would probably reply, ‘Because Girl Scouts have real Fun. “But,” she continued, “if I were to analyze the result of Scouting I would tell that mother that the most valuable asset her girl would gain is a sense of Individual Responsibility . . . brought about by Team Work.” Girls who embraced scouting did so precisely because it was a creative program that recognized changing roles.


The 1916 Girl Scout Handbook was the second American edition. It expanded upon the requirements for earning awards and changed the name from merely “proficiency” badges to “merit” badges. While girls earned badges that reflected traditional women’s roles, such as Child Nurse, Invalid Cooking, and Housekeeper, several others required deep exploration of technical and scientific concepts, i.e. “boy” stuff. Girls responded to the opportunity in droves.

Merit Badges


Two Savannah, Georgia troops in 1912 with 18 girls had grown to 70,000 members nationwide in 1920. At Girl Scouts’ silver anniversary in 1937, more than 430,000 girls were enrolled. Girl Scouts numbered over 2.8 million scouts and adult leaders in 2014. Today’s girls honor Low’s mission to foster their individual growth, character, and self-sufficiency.


By Elizabeth L. Maurer
Director of Program
Originally published March 2016

Find out why author Sandra Weber thinks it is so important women spend time outdoors. Click here.


Further Reading




Women Outdoors: Q&A with Sandra Weber

June 10th, 2017


Sandra Weber of Elizabethtown, New York, has authored ten books and several magazine articles about history, women, and the Adirondack Mountains region. In addition to her writings, Sandra is also well-known for her dramatic portrayals of Adirondack women such as Mary Brown, Inez Milholland, Jeanne Robert Foster, Kate Field, and Martha Reben.

Program Assistant, Kenna Howat, interviewed Weber about her experience with and writings of adventuring outdoors.

Why do you think it is important for women to spend time outdoors?

I think it helps with the health of your mind and the health of your body, and the two work together. Activities such as hiking, canoeing, biking, or whatever outdoors activities you enjoy, they help you develop self-reliance and self-confidence in what you can do and what you can accomplish in all areas of life.

Source: Sandra Weber

Source: Sandra Weber

In your book Two in the Wilderness you went on a long hiking trip with your daughter. Why did you decide to do that?

Well, I had been hiking a lot of the Adirondack high peaks and mostly doing that with my husband and two young daughters. But I realized that when we would go backpacking, my husband would generally use the stove, carry more of the gear, erect the tent, etc. I think that sometimes when a man is around we just tend to let them fall into that role. I realized that I really wanted to prove to myself, and to demonstrate to my daughters, that women are capable of handling the outdoors life. So I decided to force myself to take over that role and prove that I could be self-reliant, and so could my 11-year-old daughter. Also, I really wanted an opportunity for just the two of us to be alone, hopefully to bond but at least to see what would develop as we experienced this 11-day backpacking adventure together.

How did your daughter feel about the whole trip?

She was kind of excited about it at first, partly because she knew we would be writing the book about it. But when the day came to actually start the trip, she was uncertain. In her first journal entry, she wrote:

“My name is Marcy and I am 11 years old. This is my journal for a hiking trip I am taking with my mother. We will walk 60 or 70 miles and be gone for almost two weeks. I know I will miss my friends and my cat. Mom really wants me to go on this trip. She thinks it will be fun. I think this trip is going to be annoying and boring.”

So that’s how she felt when we set out but along the way she began to have a really wonderful time. And I think she proved to herself how strong and how independent she was. She even did some solo canoeing and kayaking. By the end she wrote a little poem in her journal about not wanting to go back to town. She liked being out in the woods and having the freedom to just roam and explore wherever she wanted.

What obstacles did women historically face in adventuring outdoors?

Oh, so many! It begins with the clothing. I mean, imagine trying to hike or bicycle in a corset and a long dress and other encumbrances; it’s just impossible. Or even riding horses, because you were told you had to ride side saddle. So one of the first things women had to combat was fashion; they had to change what was acceptable for women to wear.

They also faced the prejudice of society—the idea that a woman should be meek, a woman should be mild, a woman shouldn’t do anything to get excited or anything that requires her to use her muscles. Women had to break away from that idea and prove that physical exercise wasn’t going to harm them. There is a famous quote about if a woman rides a bicycle it’s somehow going to affect her health and she’s not going to be able to have babies. There was a lot of that kind of thought around in those days. In the Adirondacks, women who tried to go out hiking, camping, or boating were called maniacs by proper society ladies.

Source: Sandra Weber

Weber hiking in period dress. Source: Sandra Weber

You hike in period clothing occasionally, don’t you?

I do. I started writing a book about Mount Marcy, the tallest mountain in New York State at 5,344 feet, which isn’t enormous compared to other mountain ranges, but for out here it’s pretty tall. I was writing all about the history and as part of that I did a lot of research about the first women who climbed it, which no one had really investigated before. I found myself wondering ‘Well, what was it really like for them to climb in their long dresses and all of this kind of thing?’ So I sewed a long dress and I climbed Mount Marcy in it. It wasn’t too cumbersome; I kind of enjoyed it, actually. I had read how they had pinned up their dresses a little bit when they were going up hills so they wouldn’t trip on the front of the dress. I did that and I found it to be very helpful. I did, however, wear modern boots because I have knee problems. I can’t imagine doing it in the kind of shoes that they wore.

Mount Marcy as seen from Mount Haystack. Photographer: Daniel Tripp Source: Wikimedia

Mount Marcy as seen from Mount Haystack. Photographer: Daniel Tripp Source: Wikimedia

I have climbed six or seven times in different long-skirted outfits. So when I took the trip with my daughter she said, “Mom, when we go over Mount Marcy can I wear a long dress too?” I said, “okay” and I found a long skirt to fit Marcy. So we both climbed over Mount Marcy in our long dresses in the rain. We passed a ranger that day who looked at us in bewilderment and asked, “What are you doing?

What are some lessons modern American women can learn from those who adventured before them?

I’ve also studied the women suffrage movement, and, of course, we can learn from their strategies of organizing, of publically protesting, being out in the streets. Not always yelling or shouting but sometimes just being silent sentinels, just standing on the sidewalk holding up a sign. But they never gave up; they stood day after day after day no matter whether it was raining or snowing. I think their persistence is quite inspirational. Even though there were so many against them, they knew that they were fighting for something that was worth fighting for and that eventually they would inspire others to realize that. Many times, these women had nothing to rely on but their own spirit. That spirit—I think it comes from self-reliance and from confidence in their cause.

What do you want women to know from reading your books?

I want women to know that there were women out there being active outdoors and doing things that were unconventional at the time—whether picketing or pedaling. That doesn’t tend to get written about very much. Ten or fifteen years ago there just weren’t very many stories about the women in history, what they were doing, what they were accomplishing. Part of what I’m doing is trying to recover that history and let it be known what these women were doing and what they struggled against. I hope to inspire women today to not be afraid to do things that are unconventional, not be afraid to look weird or crazy because you want to do something that you feel is important. I hope they don’t take no for an answer, that women go ahead and try things, experiment.

I love to see young girls get outdoors and embrace their curiosity about nature. I also admire women in their seventies, eighties, and even nineties who are still hiking and canoeing. I think it is fantastic to see women of all ages experiencing the out-of-doors.

Interested in reading more about seven more women who pushed boundaries? Click here.


Books by Sandra Weber. Available for purchase at

  • Two in the Wilderness: Adventures of a Mother and Daughter in the Adirondack Mountains (Photos by Carl Heilman)
  • Breaking Trail: Remarkable Women of the Adirondacks (co-author, Peggy Lynn) Profiles of twenty-five extraordinary mountain women from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
  • Mount Marcy, The High Peak of New York Comprehensive history of the highest mountain in New York State.


NEWEST book by Sandra Weber:

The Suffrage Statue: Adelaide Johnson’s Portrait Monument to Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in the U.S. Capitol (Available from McFarland & Co., 2016)


Visit her website Follow her on Facebook or email her at


From Bloomers to Bikinis: An Evolution of Women’s Swimwear

June 1st, 2017

Summer is officially upon us and has brought with it an age-old and universal tradition: swimming. As the sun heats up city pavements and raises temperatures to dizzyingly high degrees, we crave water’s cool refreshment. Whether a dip in the community pool, a swim in the ocean, or skipping through the gushing water of a burst fire hydrant, there is one essential garment that we all need—a swimsuit.

4th Century Mosaic with women wearing “Bikinis” Credit: Public Domain
4th Century Mosaic with women wearing “Bikinis” Credit: Public Domain

Swimsuits, in their modern-day incarnations replete with spandex and lycra, may seem like a relatively recent fashion invention. They are anything but! In fact, the first documented use of a swimming costume was in a 4th century Roman mosaic at the Villa Romana del Casale, which depicted women who wore what look like modern day bikinis.

It appears, according to historical record, that swimwear went through a dry season in the centuries that followed, especially after the fall of the Roman Empire. The fashion wouldn’t be resurrected until 1687, when English traveler Celia Fiennes wrote about the popular bathing costume of that era.

Woman using a bathing machine in Germany c. 1893 Credit: Public Domain

Woman using a bathing machine in Germany c. 1893 Credit: Public Domain

Women in the 17th century used bathing gowns, often made of canvas with huge sleeves that filled up with water so as to not reveal her shape. Bathing gowns were used for public bathing, which was believed to possess healing and therapeutic power. Modesty was of the upmost importance when bathing and bathing machines were employed to ensure privacy. The machines were carriages that rolled out into the water. A typical “swim” was really a short dip in the water with women and men relegated to separate sides of the beach.

Bathing became a recreation by the middle half of the 19th century and it sparked the start of a new age of swimwear as Americans flocked to the beaches for some fun in the sun. Swimwear from this period consisted of bloomers and black stockings. Although swimming had become a recreation, it was still thought that women should refrain from too much of it. By the late 19th century, swimming had evolved into an intercollegiate and Olympic sport, making it more acceptable for women to participate in this particular forum. The “Princess” cut with its blouse and trousers became popular in the 1880s and by the beginning of the 20th century, swimsuits began to expose a little more skin—though, not too much. Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman was arrested in the United States for indecent exposure in 1909 for wearing a one-piece suit that exposed too much skin.

In the 1920s, swimsuits were made with lighter fabric and included shorts which exposed women’s legs. Over the next two decades, swimsuits transformed into more form-fitting pieces that exposed the arms and legs but covered most of the midriff. By the end of World War II, tow-piece swim suits were starting to appear on beaches culminating in the two-piece bikini making its debut in 1946, daringly modeled by French dancer Micheline Bernardini. America was slow to accept the bikini’s bold navel-bearing style and it wasn’t until the early 1960’s that bikinis exploded onto the pool and beach party scene. Bikinis of this era covered the majority of the bust-line and the bottoms stretched the entire length of the form from just below the navel to the top of the thigh.

Esther Williams modeling a swimsuit in 1945 Credit: Yank: the Army Weekly

Esther Williams modeling a swimsuit in 1945 Credit: Yank: the Army Weekly

Since the 1960s, swimsuit styles have continued to evolve, with new fashion trends appearing on the beach each summer. We’ve come a very long way since the days of bloomers and black stockings! So this summer, as you step into your favorite swimsuits, think about what our foremothers had to endure at the beach, so that we can wear what we want today.


Originally Published Fall 2013 by Sydnee Winston, National Women’s History Museum Staff

Updated May 2017 by Kenna Howat, Program Assistant

To read more about the history of fashion click here.


Memorial Day and Fashion

June 1st, 2017

Why do you have to wait until Memorial Day to wear your favorite white jeans? Watch this fashion history minute video to find out the history behind this tradition.


Moving the Women into the Light

May 23rd, 2017

On Mother’s Day weekend two decades ago, a group of women dedicated themselves to moving Adelaide Johnson’s Portrait Monument to Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony out of the U.S. Capitol’s basement, known as the Crypt, to its rightful place in the Capitol Rotunda.

Monument Move 1997 1The statue more commonly known as The Woman Suffrage Statue, memorializes pioneering suffragists, and first arrived at the Capitol on February 10, 1921. On February 15, it was unveiled in a ceremony as a gift from the “women of the Nation…to the People of the United States,” by the National Woman’s Party.[i] The very next day, “the Portrait Monument traveled outdoors, down the Capitol steps, and through the doors into the Crypt[ii]” where it remained for nearly 76 years.

The statue’s original journey to the Capitol was complex and controversial, and its move back to the Rotunda was no less so. The Woman Suffrage Statue Campaign was responsible for moving the statue back to its intended and rightful place in the Capitol Rotunda, and sparked the movement that is the National Women’s History Museum today.

NWHM Board Member Ann E.W. Stone and President and CEO Joan Wages were there, and spoke with us about the challenges and triumphs of moving the statue.

How did the Woman Suffrage Statue Campaign start?

Ann Stone: It was 1995, and the National Women’s History Museum’s eventual founder, Karen Staser happened upon the Portrait Monument by accident during one of her visits to the U.S. Capitol building. There was no signage as to who was in the statue, although she thought she recognized Susan B. Anthony, but she was not sure who the other two were.

Later that day, she visited the Sewell-Belmont House, now the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, and noticed information about activity around the 75th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. On the wall, was a poster with a picture of the very same statue she had just seen in the Capitol Crypt. Karen learned a brief history of the statue and how the National Women’s Party wanted to move it back to the Rotunda. But, they had run into all sorts of roadblocks including new Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Monument Move 1997 2Karen’s husband worked for Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska, and she offered to help by setting up a meeting to see if they could enlist his support. The meeting went better than expected. The women who helped raise Senator Stevens were suffragists. He learned the suffrage songs as a child and would sing them at the slightest provocation. He was excited to help.

To shore up support, Senator Stevens enlisted Senator John Warner from Virginia to help, and the legislative movement began. The Senate voted unanimously to approve the move.

The House of Representatives was more difficult. The first vote went down in defeat due to the objections of three women members because it was a time of budget cuts and they could not justify government funds to move the statue. They did not object to the move, just using public money to do so.

As 1995 drew to a close, the 75th Anniversary would soon be over. Karen and Joan Meacham co-chaired a new effort to move the statue and named it the “Woman Suffrage Statue Campaign.” They knew they could count on Senators Stevens and Warner again, so focused their efforts on the House.

How did the legislation finally pass?

Stone: My neighbor worked at the Sewall-Belmont and gave Karen my name as someone who might be able to help with Congress. She came to my office in Alexandria in early 1996. She explained what happened and how they wanted to try again. This would be the fifth attempt since the 1920s to raise the statue since it had been banished to the Capitol’s basement.

Karen said they had been working with Maryland Representative Connie Morella as one of their conduits to the Speaker. I knew Connie well and called her to see what was holding up the move. The Speaker’s office was under the impression that this was a push by liberals for political reasons. I called the Speaker’s office and gave him the history of the statue, pointed out the women in the statue were all Republicans and said, “So, you have locked three Republican women in the basement.”

The message was received and the negotiations began in earnest again. There were a lot of objections to this particular statue from all sides. Some of the women members of Congress hated it, thought it was ugly, and thought male members of Congress would make fun of them by ridiculing the statue. Some thought other figures should have been in it. Still others wanted a whole new statue.

Discussion went round and round, and finally we stated emphatically that this statue was the one the suffragists gave us. This statue is the one through which all women in America were dishonored when it was shoved in the basement. So this statue had to be the one to come back up into the Rotunda to restore their honor—if only for a few years until a new statue could be commissioned to take its place.

We reached a tentative agreement, and legislation was drafted to move the statue after one year. We agreed to raise private money to pay for the move so no government funds would be required.

The House finally joined with the Senate and passed Concurrent Resolution 216 to authorize the statue’s move.

The relocation began on May 10, 1997, the day before Mother’s Day. How did you feel that weekend?

Wages: All of us who worked on the campaign showed up early on Saturday morning—very excited. But the day dragged on because the construction crew could not figure out how to lift the seven tons of marble up onto the Rotunda level. By early evening, they quit for the day. The next morning, we arrived back at the Capitol bright and early before the tourists were allowed in. They had figured out the way to lift it and by mid-morning the statue moved into the Rotunda. Saturday had been rainy and overcast. When the statue came in, the sun broke through and everyone cheered.

Monument Move 1997 6While the crew worked, we had pizza delivered. We sat on the Rotunda floor, ate pizza, and drank champagne. One of the Capitol curators was horrified and assured us that had never been allowed before. Since it was almost midnight, she gave us a pass. We also knew that once placed, the statue would never be moved because of its weight and size.

Stone: As the statue was lowered onto its new base, all of us assembled saluted these three courageous, persevering women with champagne.

This year we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the National Women’s History Museum’s milestone accomplishment as we continue our mission to mainstream women’s history into our culture, our books, our parks, entertainment, and our museums.

Millions of visitors have passed through the Capitol since the statue returned to its rightful place alongside the men who also contributed much to our nation. And millions more will hear and learn about these suffragists battle to secure women the right to vote because of our efforts.



[i] Sandra Weber, The Woman Suffrage Statue: A History of Adelaide Johnson’s Portrait Monument at the U.S. Capitol (North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc.), p. 99

[ii] Sandra Weber, The Woman Suffrage Statue: A History of Adelaide Johnson’s Portrait Monument at the U.S. Capitol (North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc.), p. 105

National Women’s History Museum Awards Event Engages, Inspires and Empowers Future Generations

May 17th, 2017


Contact: Chris Lisi 202-549-0696


National Womens History Museum Awards Event Engages, Inspires and Empowers Future Generations


Washington, D.C.—On May 16, the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) hosted its Annual Women Making History Awards in Washington, D.C. at the Carnegie Institute for Science. The event commemorated the achievements of women, generated awareness of the importance of preserving women’s history, and highlighted the need for a national women’s history museum on the National Mall.

This year’s event honored former First Lady Laura Bush and featured a video tribute from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. NBC News’ Meet the Press Host Chuck Todd interviewed Mrs. Bush about the strength and power of women.

“I’m certain many of us can still remember that eye-opening moment—often much later than we should have—and we saw ourselves reflected back from the pages of our history books for the first time. That’s an experience every child should have,”said Secretary Clinton in her video introduction. “I look forward to the day when both my granddaughter and grandson can visit the National Women’s History Museum and come away feeling a little braver, walking a little taller, knowing they stand on the shoulders of generations of history makers and trailblazers.”

“It’s really important to have a museum that focuses on women because half of the population is left out from American History,”said former First Lady Laura Bush. “We need to figure out how we can encourage women to run for office—and to run for President.”

NWHM Board Chair Susan Whiting opened the night’s awards. “We were honored to celebrate with Mrs. Bush, our other honorees and continue to advocate for a national women’s history museum,”said Whiting. “We are the greatest nation in the world, with a story no other country can tell, but that story has missing pages. America’s history remains unfinished. It’s time to complete it.”

Award-winning journalist Cokie Roberts served as emcee, who introduced Sec. Clinton’s video and the night’s honorees. Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Ed Royce (R-CA), cosponsors of H.R. 19, the bill that would create the women’s history museum, also spoke at the event.

Rep. Maloney is a longtime advocate for a women’s museum, and said “When women succeed, America succeeds.”

“We all know there is a story that needs to be told to girls and boys,”said Rep. Royce. “A national museum that focuses on women’s history is the best way to tell that story.”

Event Honorees

The event honored a diverse group of accomplished women, and presented its Henry Blackwell Award, named after one of the founders of the Republican Party and American Woman Suffrage Association.

Honorees included:

  • Former First Lady Laura Bush
  • Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden (USMC, Retired), 12th NASA Administrator and Henry Blackwell Award recipient
  • Faye Laing, M.D., Pioneering Radiologist and Professor
  • Diane Rehm, Former NPR Host, The Diane Rehm Show
  • The Honorable Rosie Rios, 43rd Treasurer of the United States
  • Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught (USAF, Retired), Founding President, Women in Military Service for America Memorial

Through their professional endeavors, each of the women honored are outstanding examples of women’s accomplishments, and General Bolden’s unwavering support of women in STEM is an example for supporting women’s achievements.

The event was made possible by presenting sponsor Lifeway Foods (Nasdaq: LWAY).

“Supporting the women’s history museum isn’t just a box we check off for corporate social responsibility,”said NWHM Board Member and Lifeway Foods CEO Julie Smolyansky. “It’s in our very DNA.”Julie’s mother and father founded Lifeway Foods in 1986, and Julie became the youngest female CEO of a publicly held firm when she took over Lifeway Foods in 2002 at age 27. “My mother’s story is largely unknown, as is the story of so many women,”said Julie. “These stories are missing from business magazines, board rooms, history books, news stories, parliamentary halls and museums. The creation of a women’s history museum is an opportunity to start correcting those omissions.”

“Every day for the past 20 years our team has had a singular focus: to ensure that women’s contributions to our history and culture are incorporated into our nation’s narrative,”said NWHM President and CEO Joan Wages at the close of the event. “With the help of the people who joined us tonight, we can continue to focus on raising awareness about the need for a women’s history museum and advocating for the legislation needed to make it a reality. One that will be an enduring inspiration for future generations.”

Photos from the event on behalf of Getty Images:


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About the National Women’s History Museum

Founded in 1996, the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM, Inc.) is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the general public about the diverse historic contributions of women and raising awareness about the critical need for a national women’s history museum in our nation’s capital. Currently located online at, the Museum’s goal is to build a world-class, permanent museum on or near the National Mall that will herald and display the collective history of American women. A Congressional Commission has been established that is charged with producing a feasible plan, which would include the governance, fundraising, location and organizational structure of the museum. For additional information visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Women and the Beverage that Changed the World

May 12th, 2017

Birth of the Fermented Beverage

The earliest record of beer being produced comes from Mesopotamia around 5300 BCE, by accident, when a woman whom was later known as Ninkasi, the “goddess of beer” stumbled upon the malting process after harvesting grain by hand and placing it in jars to be stored. That evening, it rained and the jars flooded. The grain was left out to dry the next day, covered, placed back into jars, and left for a few days. Wind-borne yeast made its way in, creating a thick foaming bubbly mass “thus the stunning moment in time when a pair of lips was first wetted by beer.”

Ninkasi, Goddess of Beer. Camille Shoemaker

Ninkasi, Goddess of Beer. Camille Shoemaker

Beer contributed to the decline of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle by providing an incentive to settle in one place for longer periods of time. The drink also aided in the creation of a more varietal diet by providing a more substantial food product in itself. From this point on beer remained in the hands of women. It was their duty to look over the profession, even when it became a method of business, as barley was the first documented form of currency and most wages were paid in beer. In other parts of the world similar types of fermented beverages were being produced: Kassi in Egypt where beer was flavored with dates and honey; Pulque made from agave in the Sierra Nevadas; Chicha in the Aztec Empire produced from a mixture of corn and human saliva; and variety of other fermented beverages made from kaffir, millet, rice, and even bananas. While beer today is produced with very specific methods to avoid contamination and yield a drinkable product, for centuries it was elevated to a spiritual level because of the magic of fermentation. Women were traditionally responsible for this development until only recently.

“The whole nation enjoys Jos Schlitz Brewing Cos’ Milwaukee lager beer.” Library of Congress.

“The whole nation enjoys Jos Schlitz Brewing Cos’ Milwaukee lager beer.” Library of Congress.

Beer continued to grow as cultures began to understand the importance of yeast and effective brewing practices. Even with these advances, brewing continued to remain in the hands of women as a domestically made product. Just as cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children did, beer reflected the continuity of women’s pleasure in providing for family members. It also allowed women to make a small profit from the home as beer could be sold to neighbors and friends for a small price. Because most water was unsafe to drink, beer was an appropriate and healthy alternative. With the black plague in the 14th Century came a labor shortage and a wage increase. This in turn allowed for more money to be spent on beer and was the start of the alehouse. Because of this, beer moved out of the hands of women and the home. It became another industrialized, regulated, and profitable product, thus moving into the hands of men, soon growing across Europe and eventually to America.

Modern America

With the rise of Budweiser and other major breweries that survived prohibition, advertising was the best way for breweries to get their name out there. However, these ads were most often distinctly gendered, reflecting the debates of the proper place and role of women. For men, the ads persuaded them to drink more, to be manly and to be American, but for women, ads represented a symphony of complications and contradictions. Ironically, women were targeted as the one social group breweries had to win over since they were the primary purchasers for the home. Keeping a fridge stocked full of beer was their obligation as a dutiful wife.

1960s Schlitz Beer Advertisement Camille Shoemaker.

1960s Schlitz Beer Advertisement Camille Shoemaker.

After the development of craft beer in the early 1980s, more women started to once again infiltrate the industry. While women make up a small percentage of brewers compared to men, the concept that it’s a job unfit for women is unrealistic and outdated. However, the history of beer shows that brewing started as conformity of housewives duties, even dating back to Mesopotamia when it was discovered, beer made at home fit in with these standards. The second brewing expanded beyond the home, in the eyes of men, women could no longer oversee it and this created a gap in time where women left the market (besides in smaller, home settings). Only recently have we seen a breakthrough in the industry since prohibition and the development of craft beer.

The Future of Brewing

Today, women play a very important role in the beer industry and while we still make up a small percentage (only 4% of head brewers are female) our roles are not minor. Brewing is an art that is often overlooked for its history and craft, but more specifically for the women who started it all. There is a masculine interpretation of brewing history that takes cast over the women that brewed hundreds of years prior to a male hand even touching it besides being passed a glass for consumption. Without the discovery of fermented grain by the goddess Ninkasi thousands of years ago, beer would not be what it is today.

I myself am a young female brewer at 25, having just starting out in the industry a couple years ago as a server in a brewery while working on my Masters in Food Studies at NYU and gaining experience in the industry wherever I could. I spent last summer farming and working in a small 5 barrel brewery in upstate New York and I recently moved home to Denver, Colorado where I work full-time in a 12 barrel brewery. Being a brewer is not an easy job, it’s physically demanding, takes a lot of focus and attention to detail as one step in the wrong direction can cause a lot of beer and money to be poured down the drain, and it’s not an easy industry to break into. It’s also the most rewarding job I’ve had and is filled some really amazing people with talent and skills that are hard to find. While I’ve dealt with some criticism in being a minority as a female brewer, it’s rarely been from within the industry, but rather outside, as it’s a tough job to gage when not actually working in the field, as most jobs are. Most days I feel empowered, and with so many more female brewers getting the attention they deserve and people taking notice of the amazing history brewing has, the industry has a beautiful future ahead.


By Camille Shoemaker


Camille Shoemaker

Camille Shoemaker

Camille Shoemaker grew up in Denver, Colorado. After receiving her bachelors in Baking and Pastry and Food Service Management at Johnson and Wales, she quickly moved to New York City to pursue her Masters in Food Studies at NYU where she focused her studies on the history and gender dynamics of the beer industry. After a summer farming and brewing in upstate New York, she moved home to Colorado and now works as a brewer at Vine Street Pub and Brewery in Denver. When not brewing she’s either gardening or drinking beer and has high hopes to one day own her own farm brewery in the mountains of Colorado with her cat, Norman.

Follow her on Instagram @camilleshoemaker.