Archive for April, 2016

Walking Tours on Suffrage and Women in Civil War

April 27th, 2016

Alexandria – June 17


For more information, go to

National Women’s History Museum Applauds Decision To Put Tubman On $20; Launches New Exhibit As Part Of Google Cultural Institute

April 21st, 2016

Washington, DC – The National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) applauds the decision by U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to put abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the nation’s $20 bill. The move is a significant step in our nation’s recognition of women and their contribution to our nation. It is the first time in more than a century that a woman’s portrait will grace the nation’s currency.


“What a resounding and important message we have sent to our young girls and women in this country,” said NWHM President and CEO Joan Wages. “There have been many efforts to bring women’s history into our mainstream. This decision significantly raises the profile and the conversation about women’s impact on our country’s development.”


In marking the announcement, the NWHM, in partnership with the Google Cultural Institute, launched a new exhibit that details Tubman’s life and her work as the leader of the Underground Railroad. The exhibit provides a walk through locations and existing sites used on the historic route to freedom for slaves who Tubman helped escape.


To view the exhibit, 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, please contact Melissa Williams, NWHM communications manager, or 703-416-1920.

Join NWHM’s Program Director for a Free Panel Discussion at the Strathmore Mansion

April 13th, 2016

This Time Tomorrow: Women in Religious Reform Movements
Monday, April 18, 2016, 7pm


Panel Discussion with Asra Nomani, Rabbi Esther Lederman, Jeannette Mulherin & Elizabeth Maurer
Moderated by Maureen Fiedler, host of NPR’s Interfaith Voices


Presented in conjunction with I Am Anne Hutchinson/I Am Harvey Milk


Anne Hutchinson’s courageous resistance to male domination of religion in her Puritan world of the 1600s made her an icon of equality for all. Prior to Strathmore’s world premiere of I Am Anne Hutchinson/I Am Harvey Milk starring Kristin Chenoweth, join us for a conversation on the history and current state of reform movements in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Maureen Fiedler of NPR’s Interfaith Voices hosts this panel featuring former Wall Street Journal reporter and Georgetown University visiting scholar Asra Nomani, Rabbi Esther Lederman, and past president of the Women’s Ordination Conference Jeannette Mulherin.


Free; registration required.


These discussions are a part of a series of events leading up to our World Premiere production, I Am Anne Hutchinson/I Am Harvey Milk on April 23 & 24. Join the conversation online with the hashtag #IAm.

Garden Clubs Provided Fertile Ground for Women’s Activism

April 7th, 2016

In the early 19th century, bright, educated women became active in various reform movements. The activists among them joined abolitionist societies and petitioned for woman suffrage. With the advent of the Civil War, a wider circle of women joined together to support the causes of soldiers and their families. They formed sewing circles, held fundraising fairs, and volunteered directly with causes. After the war, women seeking intellectual and social outlets continued to rapidly establish women’s clubs.


Clubs formed around many different issues from literary and musical societies, social reform movements, and beautification. In the years between the 1870s and 1920s, women’s clubs became the major vehicle by which American women could exercise their developing talents to shape the world beyond their homes. Clubs afforded not only social opportunity but also leadership. As clubs grew, and counted locally influential women among their rolls, clubs could effect change both nationally and locally. They rapidly became part of the growing Progressive Movement.


Forming garden clubs was a natural expression of interest in nature and beauty. Horticultural societies and botany groups, some dating back to colonial times, restricted women’s membership. In response women formed their own clubs within their own communities. The first garden club in America was founded in January 1891 as The Ladies Garden Club of Athens, Georgia. On May 1, 1929, 13 federated states became charter members of the National Garden Clubs at an organizational meeting in Washington, D.C. The Garden Club of America was founded in 1913.While many started with the goal of exchanging information and cuttings, they soon adopted larger missions, which indelibly shaped the American landscape.


KenmoreThe United States celebrated its centennial in 1876, and on the heels of the Civil War and Reconstruction, amid an influx of immigrants, and in the face of a growing women’s movement, many rallied around the centennial as a reaffirmation of classic American values and culture. Cities and towns planned elaborate celebrations and pageants. Groups formed to preserve historic houses and buildings associated with the Founding Fathers. Scores of historical societies were formed.


The garden club movement became closely affiliated with the historic preservation movement by adopting the restoration of historical landmarks gardens and grounds as projects. The Garden Club of Virginia was among the first and the most ambitious in undertaking restoration projects. Founded in 1920 by eight garden clubs from around the Commonwealth, the GCV’s first project was the restoration of the grounds at Kenmore, the home of George Washington’s sister Betty and her husband Fielding Lewis. The Garden Club of Virginia’s restoration, started in 1929, includes a large tree-shaded lawn and rear garden arranged in an eighteenth-century formal plan. The GCV’s members hired professional landscape designers and historical consultants to execute the projects.


Mary ShermanThe Garden Club of Virginia raised money through traditional women’s networks. They staged a large flower show in 1927, raising $7,000 towards the restoration of Thomas Jefferson’s gardens at Monticello. The GCV held the first Historic Garden Week of Virginia, featuring tours of prominent homes and gardens, in 1929. Today, GCV’s 8-day Historic Garden Week attracts 30,000 visitors to 250 homes across the state and has raised $17 million since its inception. The organization continues to fund conservation and restoration, including an effort to restore Monticello’s kitchen gardens.


The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (1890) encouraged women’s groups to join together to amplify their voices to improve local communities and effect national policy. Mary Belle King Sherman served as chairman of GFWC’s Conservation Committee from 1914-1920 where she positioned GFWC as a strong advocate of establishing a national park system. In 1915, she represented GFWC at the dedication of Rocky Mountain National Park near her home, and in 1916, she advocated for the GFWC resolution supporting the National Park Service Bill, leading to her nickname as the “National Park Lady”. By the end of her service as Conservation chairman, she had helped guide the formation of six national parks.


Lady Bird JohnsonThe National Roadside Council under Elizabeth Lawton emerged in the 1920s took on the Outdoor Advertising Council to combat the “roadside blight” that sprang up along with national road systems connected to rising use of the automobile. Lawton adamantly asserted that “beauty and the billboard cannot exist on the same landscape.” She built up a series of state and regional councils composed primarily of women who lobbied against the proliferation of billboards, much to the chagrin of the male-dominated Outdoor Advertising Association of America. She and her husband photographically documented the roadside landscape to demonstrate roadside blight and advocated for legislation to regulate advertising. A few decades later, Lady Bird Johnson took up their cause by lobbying for passage of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965.


Working together, women in garden clubs and beautification societies made an indelible mark on the American landscape. They looked beyond the envelope of historic buildings, recognizing that the historic landscapes, gardens, and view sheds were important resources to preserve for future generations. Their efforts led to more beautiful highways, increased recreational opportunities, and established conservation as a national priority. Their legacy endures in the public spaces all around us.

Beverly Cleary, Creator of Ramona and Beezus, Turning 100

April 7th, 2016

Beverly ClearyBeloved children’s book author Beverly Cleary will turn 100 years old on April 12, 2016. Starting with Henry Huggins in 1950 and her last book Ramona’s World in 1999, Cleary wrote more than 40 children’s books that have sold 91 million copies and remain at the top of teacher and librarians’ recommended reading lists.


Children in Cleary’s books are independent, enjoy being outside, and solve problems with the support of friends. They are realistic children who misbehave, get into trouble, and fight with their siblings. “I never reform anybody,” Cleary told The New York Post in 2006. “Because when I was growing up, I didn’t like to read about boys and girls who learned to be better boys and girls.” Today’s children are no different.


Beverly Cleary bucked the prevailing trends in children’s literature. What made her different?


Over the past 100 years, a trend in children’s literature has been to position adults as peripheral to children’s lives if not actively antagonistic. The Hardy Boys (1927) and Nancy Drew (1930) experience shockingly little adult supervision while repeatedly imperiling themselves. The Cat in the Hat (1957) wreaks havoc because the mother is away. Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games (2008) finds the adults in her life literally trying to engineer her death.


bcbooks4Cleary’s characters, on the other hand, while independent, often interact with adults as she examines the relationships between adults and kids. Cleary received Newbery Honors for Ramona and Her Father (1978), which traversed the family’s challenges when Ramon’s father unexpectedly loses his job. In Ramona and Her Mother—the 1981 National Book Award winner for Children’s Fiction—a pre-adolescent Ramona worries about her parents’ unsettling quarrels and whether her mother has enough attention to go around. Cleary was awarded the Newbery Medal for outstanding children’s book in 1984 for her juvenile novel Dear Mr. Henshaw, in which a boy works through his parents’ divorce and adaptation to a new school through his correspondence with his favorite author. Though Cleary’s characters are independent, they are not left on their own. Caring adults populate their worlds.


In her youth, Cleary reminded the Washington Post, “mothers did not work outside the home; they worked on the inside. And because all the mothers were home — 99 percent of them, anyway — all mothers kept their eyes on all the children.” Yet Cleary herself was a working mother who balanced her writing career with raising a young family with the help of a neighbor who watched her children while she wrote. In that, she was typical of many women in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s who increasingly returned to part time work to supplement family income. Cleary explored the dynamics of families with wage-earning mothers in several books starting in the 1970s. Her writing mirrored her and her readers’ real lives, making her novels relatable.


RamonaOver a half century of writing, Cleary’s work reflected changes in American society. Her characters faced challenges that remain highly relevant today such as a parent losing a job, loss of a favorite pet, divorce, and school yard bullying. Her stories reflect the issues women faced in the decades in which they were published, creating a literary, historic timeline of the 20th century.


When asked why her work has remained popular, she told The Atlantic, “I think it is because I have stayed true to my own memories of childhood, which are not different in many ways from those of children today. Although their circumstances have changed, I don’t think children’s inner feelings have changed.”


By Elizabeth L. Maurer

Director of Program

Yoohoo, We’re Right Here!!!

April 6th, 2016

By Susan Danish

Executive Director, Junior League


No, not there…
Here…look over here…

Where are the women leaders?

We’re here. We’re all around you. We’re just not household names. Nowhere was that more evident than at last week’s ‘Women Making History’ event supporting the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) and its goal of building a Museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

UntitledThe three women honored were remarkable and it was eye-opening to be around them. They were women some “know”, but most do not know their names or their stories. First to be honored was Ann Veneman, the first (and only) female United States Secretary of Agriculture, and former Executive Director of UNICEF, among so many more accomplishments. Her resume is a litany of “first female…” I have never felt more like a slacker.

Aesha Ash was a professional ballerina with several world renowned companies including New York City Ballet. She was among the first African-American ballerinas there. (And she was there before Misty Copeland came to prominence with the American Ballet Theater.) Today she is retired from professional dancing but has started an initiative called the Swan Dreams Project to help ensure that all girls, especially girls of color, know that stereotypes or media images do not have to define them.

Finally, the Museum honored Christine Walevska, world renowned cellist and master musician. In an intimate setting at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C., Walevska played three pieces for the attendees – and we were supposed to be honoring her! What an honor it was. And here she was just feet away from us, playing her cello, and sharing her thoughts. Even without the acoustics of a concert hall, she moved us with her artistry and connected with us in a warm and personal way. I spend time at Tanglewood every summer (the summer home of the Boston Symphony), and there are female cellists in the orchestra, but I have yet to see a cello soloist, with the exception of YoYo Ma (who is wonderful… don’t get me wrong). I never thought about the fact that never have I seen a female playing a cello solo there.

Seeing and learning about the Women Making History honorees only reinforced for me the need to tell the stories of the many, many accomplished women here in the US and around the world. I truly believe that the stories of strong, accomplished people can do a lot to counterbalance so much of the negative rhetoric that surrounds us daily. As National Women’s History Month comes to an end I feel an even greater sense of urgency to make sure that our nation’s heroines are not unsung.

This article was originally published in the Junior League blog, The Civic Lede. To view, click here: