Archive for March, 2016

Recognizing Valor with the Congressional Medal of Honor

March 24th, 2016

Mary Elizabeth Walker, an 1855 graduate of Syracuse Medical College, was among nation’s few female medical doctors at the beginning of the Civil War. She recognized that the Army needed medical personnel and vigorously pursued a US Army commission. Though denied a commission, she volunteered in hospitals in Washington, DC and Virginia. Walker finally secured a contract position with the Ohio 52nd Infantry in 1863. Confederates captured Walker and made her a prisoner of war. Following her release in a prisoner exchange, Walker secured a contract position as an Acting Assistant Surgeon directly with the US Army where she was assigned to supervise female prisoners of war and an orphanage. Walker retired from military service at the war’s conclusion. She was awarded the Medal of Honor in recognition of her extraordinary service to her country. Dr. Walker remains the only woman in history to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Mary Walker citation

NWHM’s Joan Wages Explains “How to Fix” the Gender Gap in Podcast

March 24th, 2016

NWHM President & CEO Joan Wages was recently interviewed on the “How Do We Fix It?” podcast. The popular podcast, run by veteran journalists Richard Davies and Jim Meigs, invites innovative thinkers to discuss new research and fresh thinking around current topics. The podcast not only analyzes problems but also offers practical solutions.


Wages spoke about the absence of women in high level positions in Fortune 500 companies and public office and its correlation to a lack of role models in history books. She pointed out that fewer than 20% of the Members of Congress are women.  Women’s representation in corporate boardrooms is even lower. Fewer than 5% of CEO’s at Fortune 500 companies are women.


“Role models have a huge impact on the way young girls and women in general think about themselves,” stated Wages. When fewer than 15% of figures in US history textbook are women, it is not surprising that women and girls hesitate to pursue traditionally male career fields.


Wages discussed NWHM’s efforts to incorporate women’s history into the popular historical narrative as well as its goal to build a national museum dedicated to women’s history, the first of its kind in any world capital.


Listen to “The Gender Gap in Our Public Square: Joan Wages: How Do We Fix It?” at

NWHM Recognizes Students’ Women’s History Projects at Virginia History Day

March 24th, 2016

Gertrude BellIsadora DuncanStudents from across Northern Virginia gathered on Saturday, March 5, 2016 for the Region 5 Virginia History Competition. Students engaged in a year-long research project on the topic of “Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange in History.” They entered projects in a variety of categories including websites, exhibits, dramatic presentations, documentaries, and papers. The winners will progress to the Virginia State competition to be held in April.


In addition to awards by category and age group, four special awards were given by various organizations. National Women’s History Museum awarded two Certificates of Excellence for projects in women’s history to a middle and high school student. The women’s history category had the most number of entries for any of the special awards categories with 25 projects eligible for consideration.


The winners for Excellence in Women’s History were:


Laura Pavlak of West Springfield High School for her Senior Historical Paper “Gertrude Bell and the Birth of Iraq.”


Lydia Frazier of Mary G. Porter Traditional School for her Junior Individual Documentary “Isadora Duncan.”

NWHM Honors Trailblazing Women in Public Service, the Arts, and Music

March 16th, 2016

Aesha Ash, Ann Veneman and Christine Walevska accepted awards


Washington, DC – March 15, 2016 – The National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) recognized three trailblazing women, whose accomplishments helped to pioneer pathways for other women to serve in similar fields, at its 2016 Women Making History Awards held at the Mayflower Hotel. This year’s honorees included Ann Veneman, the first female secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Christine Walevska, the only living female master musician and Aesha Ash, one of the first black ballerinas for the New York City Ballet and founder of The Swan Dreams Project.


Through their professional and philanthropic efforts, these trailblazing women overcame unique challenges in their individual fields and paved paths for other women to follow.


Secretary Veneman, who was the first woman to serve in six of her leadership posts before being named Secretary of Agriculture, accepted an award for her contributions to public service here in the United States and on the international scene as executive director of UNICEF.


Christine Walevska, an internally acclaimed cellist, was honored for her 30-year plus career in classical music, a field still primarily dominated by men. Walevska gave a mini-concert playing Bach and Ennio Bolognini, a composer who asked that only Walevsa perform his music. Walevska dedicated one of her selections to the National Women’s History Museum and its President, Joan Wages.


Aesha Ash, one of the first black ballerinas to join the New York City Ballet and the only one during her seven-and a half year career with the corps, had an outstanding career here in the United States and internationally before turning her attention to inspiring the next generation of dancers, in particular those of color. So was born The Swan Dreams Project, an effort by Ash to promote positive and alternative images of black women.


“This event is a true tribute to many unsung heroes in our midst,” said Wages, NWHM President and CEO. “The countless achievements and contributions women have made in shaping this nation have been left out of the historical narrative and it’s beyond time to correct the record. We are committed to integrating women’s history into the American mainstream; and ensure that future generations will recognize the tremendous value women bring to society.”

NWHM’s mission is to educate, inspire, empower, and shape the future by integrating women’s distinctive history into the culture and history of the United States. A key element of advancing that mission is tobuild a world-class museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.


For more information on NWHM or to become a member, please visit





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.


Media inquiries:

For press inquiries or credentials, please contact Melissa Williams at or 703-461-1920.



#HelpUsBuildIt – Social Media Campaign Going Strong

March 7th, 2016

Who are the women you think belong in a National Women’s History Museum?

On March 1st, the National Women’s History Museum launched the #HelpUsBuildIt social media campaign. The campaign encourages members, friends, and social media followers to join together to build the Museum. NWHM believes that if everyone pulls together, the American people can build a national women’s history museum—the first of its kind in any nation’s capital—in Washington, DC on the National Mall.

The #HelpUsBuildIt campaign’s social media followers have personalized their messages of support and rallied their friends.

Alanis Ava Gale Mercedes Robi

Click to learn more or join the conversation and #HelpUsBuildIt @WomensHistory.

I am Anne Hutchinson / I am Harvey Milk at Strathmore

March 5th, 2016
Saturday, April 23, 2016, 8pm
Sunday, April 24, 2016, 4pm
The Music Center


I Am Anne Hutchinson/I Am Harvey Milk is a new concept opera Starring Kristin Chenoweth & Andrew Lippa, with The National Philharmonic, Alexandria Harmonizers, & Colin Wheeler, words & music by Andrew Lippa. Part choral work, part theater piece, I Am Anne Hutchinson / I Am Harvey Milk is an emotional, musical celebration of two American icons.

I Am Harvey Milk is the story of the civil rights icon’s life from boyhood through his tenure as the first openly gay man to hold public office in California, to his assassination. Grammy and Tony Award-nominated composer Andrew Lippa tells the tale through soaring melodies and beautiful lyrics.

Now for the first time ever, I Am Harvey Milk will be presented along with the world premiere of Lippa’s newest work, I Am Anne Hutchinson. Hutchinson is viewed by many as the mother of women’s rights and religious tolerance in America. In 1637, the Massachusetts Bay Colony tried her for insubordination to the established patriarchal church for the “sin” of forming women’s study groups. While she was branded a radical, like Milk centuries later, her tragic end only strengthened her legend, furthering her cause of women’s independence and pursuit of spiritual grace.

Strathmore is pleased to partner with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the National Women’s History Museum, who will benefit from the proceeds of these performances.

NWHM President Delivers Inspirational TEDx Talk

March 2nd, 2016
Why is women’s history important?
NWHM’s President & CEO Joan Wages explained to a TEDx audience that history provides role models for our nation’s women and girls. Women have been excluded from the popular historical narrative, their contributions ignored. Exclusion deprives women and girls from knowing their past and seeing a future.

“To remain great, our nation must utilize the talents of all of our citizens. To do that, girls must overcome the pervasive gender gaps in our society to become our next CEOs, entrepreneurs, scientists, and senators. They need female role models,” explained Wages.

Mentors guide us on our pathway to achievement, but role models provide the vision to which we aspire. Having both role models and mentors lays a foundation for women to achieve their goals. Wages charged the audience to seek role models in fields where women remain dramatically underrepresented, to promote stories of women, and to aspire to those things that never before seemed possible.

Wages spoke on October 23, 2015 for Ursuline College’s TEDx seminar at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.

View the talk >>