Archive for September, 1998

9/28/1998: First Annual “Women Making History” Awards

September 28th, 1998

Karen Staser, President and Founder of the National Museum of Women’s History, today announced the first annual “Women Making History” Awards. These awards honor living women who have made unusual or unheralded contributions to history in today’s world.

This year’s honorees are (in alphabetical order):

Pat Billings for her contribution to science, specifically the invention of a building material that is both indestructible and fire proof.

Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo for her contribution to aviation as the first women hired as a pilot by a commercial airline.

Elaine Chao for her contribution to diversity and ethics as the highest ranking Asian Pacific American ever appointed in the Executive Branch. As the president of United Way, she restored public trust and instituted dramatic new reforms that were recognized by the National Charities Information Bureau.

Elizabeth Dole for her contribution to women’s advancement in government as the first female Secretary of Transportation.

Geraldine Ferraro for her contribution to politics and as the first woman to run on the presidential ticket for a major political party.

Elinor Guggenheimer for her contribution to advocacy for women as the founder of the National Women’s Forum, the International Women’s Forum, New York’s Agenda, the Day Care Council of New York, the Council of Senior Centers and Services, and the Child Care Action Campaign.

Bernadine Healy, M.D. for her contribution to medicine as the first (and only) female director of the National Institutes of Health.

Dorothy Height for her contribution to the advancement of African American women worldwide and her leadership of the YWCA and the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW).

Billie Jean King for her contribution to the world of sports as the first woman commissioner in professional sports, the first woman to coach a co-ed team, and the first female athlete to earn more than $100,000 in a single season.

Virginia H. Knauer for her contribution to the advancement of women in government as the first female director of the Office of Consumer Affairs.

Carol Sadie Shapiro for her contribution to medicine as the first female to head the Virginia Medical Society.

Muriel Siebert for her contribution to the advancement of women in finance as the first female member of the New York Stock Exchange.

Phyllis Hill Slater for her contribution to diversity and business as the first African American to serve as president of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO).

Helen Thomas for her contribution to journalism as the first woman president of the White House Correspondents Association (1975-1976) and the first female member, then president, of the Gridiron Club.

Marilyn vos Savant for her contribution to changing stereotypes about women as the person with the highest IQ ever recorded for both childhood and adult scores.

9/28/1998: NWHM Educates America with the Launch of its Historical CyberMuseum

September 28th, 1998

The National Museum of Women’s History (NWHM), an organization formed to celebrate the contributions of past generations of women, has taken on the challenge of educating America by launching a visual and interactive CyberMuseum at Through its virtual museum on the Internet, the National Museum of Women’s History will highlight women’s achievements and contributions through the ages, a subject that has been constantly misunderstood and underrated. The CyberMuseum at, is dedicated to bringing women’s history into the minds of present and future generations of men, women, and children, delivering the Museum’s message and contents into the home, classroom, and work place.

The National Museum of Women’s History CyberMuseum will co-exist with the actual physical museum, to be located in Washington, D.C., once a site is approved by Congress. The CyberMuseum was designed by New York-based O Interactive. The company was chosen to build the educational web site as a result of its creativity, in-depth expertise in interactive media, and deeply rooted interest in women’s history. The National Museum of Women’s History’s first virtual exhibit “Motherhood, Social Service, and Political Reform: Political Culture and Imagery of American Woman Suffrage” is sponsored by the Bell Atlantic Foundation, which supports a variety of technology projects domestically and internationally.

The exhibit was curated by Edith Mayo, Curator Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution, who renovated and expanded the First Ladies exhibit, and serves as curatorial consultant to the National Museum of Women’s History. Timed perfectly to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first American women’s rights convention held at Seneca Falls, New York, the exhibit chronicles women’s suffrage and the involvement of women in politics throughout history. Viewers can take a comprehensive educational journey to relive the history of woman suffrage or take a walking tour through the image gallery to see a variety of event-related materials including the actual buttons worn by the suffragists. Future exhibits will be made possible by other sponsorships.
In addition to the virtual exhibit, viewers can learn about news and events in women’s issues, and visit the NWHM Media Center to view press releases and communicate via e-mail to staff members.

Visitors to the site will also learn how their female ancestors have shaped our nation and our lives. The goal of the National Museum of Women’s History CyberMuseum is to become an invaluable educational tool for teachers and parents around the globe, providing links to informative books and videos.

“If we and future generations are to learn all the lessons of the past upon which to build the future, we must complete the historical record to include the experience and contributions of women,” said Karen Staser, president and founder of the National Museum of Women’s History. “A better world awaits the generations that absorb what women and men have to share about life from a joint perspective.”

Marie Johns, president and CEO for Bell Atlantic-Washington, D.C., said, “Bell Atlantic is proud to support the National Museum of Women’s History and provide public access to this important initiative. Our grant is one more expression of Bell Atlantic’s continuing commitment to support innovative technology-based projects that better our communities and better our lives.”

“The CyberMuseum will allow people from all over the world to experience the accomplishments of women throughout history,” said Orit, president and founder of O Design Group, the parent company of O Interactive. “We have created a powerful information tool with strong, clean, visual appeal that will positively convey the mission of The National Museum of Women’s History.”

9/28/1998: The Launch of the NWHM CyberMuseum

September 28th, 1998

The National Museum of Women’s History is pleased to present the first CyberMuseum dedicated to Women’s History, located at

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees of The National Museum of Women’s History, let me thank Bell Atlantic and O Interactive for their partnership with us in making this CyberMuseum a reality. Today we unveil the initial exhibit and structure of our museum as a first step in telling the rest of the story,” announced Karen Staser, President of NWHM.

“Have you ever wondered why the accomplishments of women, who make up the majority (53%) of the population, make up only 2% of the content of history books? Always thought it was because women were at home, cleaning, cooking, and sewing while the really important and exciting stuff of history was being done elsewhere? Prepare for a paradigm shift. Prepare for some real surprises and wonderment at the remarkable accomplishments of women through the ages both in and outside the home” said Ms. Staser.

While Elizabeth Cady Stanton was at home raising her seven children, she was also fomenting revolution. In fact her Declaration of Sentiments, written at home 150 years ago, set in motion the largest bloodless revolution to that time. That revolution was the beginning of the fight for women’s rights, such as the basic right to vote. Our first full exhibit in our CyberMuseum is dedicated to the images and artifacts of that fight for woman suffrage, in honor of the 150th anniversary of it’s beginning. Some history books have mentioned Stanton, but have boiled the fight for suffrage down to “In l920 women were given the right to vote.” Women weren’t given anything. They fought long and hard for the right for 72 years. There is a chance you’ve actually heard of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but what about Catherine Littlefield Greene? At her home they raised cotton, lots of it. She was determined to create a mechanical cotton gin to make the processing easier. Eli Whitney, a Yale graduate (they don’t grow much cotton there), worked under Greene’s patronage in a locked room in her basement for six months. When Whitney’s first model continually clogged with cotton seeds, Greene reportedly helped him to fit a brush into the works-problem solved. Funny, her name still doesn’t ring a bell does it?

You would receive the same surprise if you learned that the person with the highest I.Q. ever recorded is a female, Marilyn Vos Savant (she’s on our National Advisory Board) or, that the first female millionaire in the U.S. was an African-American, Madame C.J. Walker, or if you learned more about Trotula of Salerno (11th century Italy) who was the first known person to write down preventative health information. She was in many ways “The Mother of Medicine.” Healers used her texts for the next 700 years in medicine. She was known in history books but someone copying her text (probably a monk) changed her name (and thus her sex) to Trotulo, instead of Trotula. How about Hildegarde de Bingen or Hypatia of Alexandria? In many ways they were much like Leonardo di Vinci(true renaissance persons) but these women lived centuries before him; Hildegarde in the 12th century AD and Hypatia in the late 300′s. While their accomplishments are known, their names are not.

There are hundreds if not thousands of examples of women like these who individually helped change the course of civilization. That’s why we have launched our efforts initially through this CyberMuseum since in cyberspace we won’t have the limitations of space. NWHM does have an active agenda that includes building an actual physical museum to house the histories of many of the most prominent women and their artifacts (with a concentration on American women). But while we wait for the bricks and mortar to dry, we can be sending out over the airwaves for all to read and download, information on all of women’s history, whether it be through our site as primary source, or linking with other sites nationwide and worldwide.

But the history of women is not just about individual women. There is much to be celebrated about their impact as a group. Were you aware of the impact of the matrilineal clan system of the Iroquois that Jefferson credited for giving him the concept of the relationship between states and a central Federal government? Did you know that the invention of textiles by prehistoric woman was in many, but different, ways as important as the invention of the wheel?

Yes, the rest of the story needs to be told. And women have been trying to tell the rest of the story for centuries. Heard of Christine de Pizan? Born in l364, de Pizan is the first person known to have documented and to have tried to bring women’s history into mainstream culture. In her work, The Book of the City of Ladies, she compiled information about past heroines and their contributions to the world. Now, with the help and partnership of great companies like Bell Atlantic, and because of the Internet, it looks like NWHM can finish what Christine started over six centuries ago.