Nobel Prize Day on December 10 by Considering Women’s Roles in Peace

December 2nd, 2015

Throughout human history, women have rarely instigated conflicts, but rather they often been active in their resolution. Their status as women and the gender roles assigned by culture and society influence how women work towards peace and stability. In radically different areas and time periods, women have used similar methods to achieve peace.

The first American woman to be recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize was Jane Addams, founder of Hull-House and a leading peace activist during and after World War I. Addams was determined to rid the world of war. Starting in 1906 she lectured, wrote, and advocated for ideals of peace. In January, 1915, she accepted the chairmanship of the Women’s Peace Party, an American organization, and four months later the presidency of the International Congress of Women. Addams’ outspoken pacifism and refusal to endorse World War I or the U.S. entry into it, earned her public condemnation. The woman who had been celebrated for her social work legacy serving the poor in urban Chicago, would be publicly excoriated for her opposition to U.S. participation in armed conflict. Addams remained stalwart in the face of criticism and in 1931 she was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Committee’s citation stated:

From this social work, often carried on among people of different nationalities, it was for her only a natural step to the cause of peace. She has now been its faithful spokesman for nearly a quarter of a century. Little by little, through no attempt to draw attention by her work but simply through the patient self-sacrifice and quiet ardor which she devoted to it, she won an eminent place in the love and esteem of her people. She became the leading woman in the nation, one might almost say its leading citizen. Consequently, the fact that she took a stand for the ideal of peace was of special significance; since millions of men and women looked up to her, she could give a new strength to that ideal among the American people.

Jody Williams is the last American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Williams was honored in 1997 for her work to ban landmines through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which shared the Peace Prize with her that year. At that time, she became the 10th woman – and third American woman – in its almost 100-year history to receive the Prize. Since her protests of the Vietnam War, she has been a life-long advocate of freedom, self-determination and human and civil rights.

Like others who have seen the ravages of war, she is an outspoken peace activist who struggles to reclaim the real meaning of peace – a concept which goes far beyond the absence of armed conflict and is defined by human security, not national security. Williams believes that working for peace is not for the faint of heart. It requires dogged persistence and a commitment to sustainable peace, built on environmental justice and meeting the basic needs of the majority of people on our planet.

On March 19, 2015, Williams spoke on women in Peace and Conflict at the George Washington University as part of National Women’s History Museum’s forum series “Initiating Change/Adapting to Change.” She was joined by Dr. Wendy E. Chmielewski, the George R. Cooley Curator at the Swarthmore College Peace Collection and the pre-eminent expert in 19th-century U.S. women’s peace movements.

 

Watch the program on YouTube during National Human Rights Month at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWbx1rN6-HI&list=PLXaqdQe8eghiwp22JBJVBlBSY1laK-5G4

 

 

Remembering Pearl Harbor Day – Honoring the Bravery of Army Nurse Annie G. Fox

December 1st, 2015

annie_foxDecember 7 is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, when Americans commemorate the 1941 attack that brought the United States into World War II. The Japanese attack shocked a nation that had heretofore resisted entering foreign wars by bringing the conflict to its shores. Dozens of stories of heroism emerged after the attacks, including that of the inspiring courage of First Lieutenant Annie G. Fox (Army Nurse Corps), who received a Bronze Star for her actions. The Bronze Star, when awarded for bravery, it is the fourth-highest combat award of the U.S. Armed Forces and the ninth highest military award in the order of precedence.

Lt. Fox was the Station Hospital’s Head Nurse at Hickam Field. The 30-bed hospital opened in November 1941, with six nurses. Lt. Monica E. Conter described the unit as “the happiest group of nurses anywhere, [under] the grandest chief nurse [Fox] who enjoys everything as much as we do.” Fox had joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1918, at the end of the First World War. While no stranger to military service, the surprise attack landed her in combat for the first time. The 47-year-old quickly took control of the situation as bombs rained down on the base.

Firsthand accounts of the attack by hospital staff described a terrifying and chaotic situation. Enemy airplanes flying so close and low that the nurses could see the pilots talking to each other were followed by explosions and masses of black smoke after each dive. Casualties poured into the hospital within minutes of the first bombing run. Hospital staff leaped into action as the constant noise of aerial torpedoes, bombs, machine gunning, and the American anti-aircraft filled the air.

As the attack progressed, causalities multiplied while bombs fell around the hospital itself. One bomb left a 30-foot crater twenty feet from the hospital wing, and another fell across the street. The smoke and fumes were so severe that the hospital staff, fearing a gas attack, donned gas masks and helmets as they tended the wounded. The casualties suffered from serious shrapnel wounds particularly in the abdomen, chest, face, head, arms, and legs. The casualties were so numerous that nurses had time only to administer pain medication before triaging them on to Trippler hospital. The dead also passed through, their bodies a mangled mass of bone and bloody and charred tissue.

As Head Nurse, Lt. Fox rallied the nurses and organized the hospital’s response to the assault. The wives of officers and N.C.O.s reported to the hospital to help, and Lt. Fox organized the civilian volunteers to make hospital dressings by the hundreds and assist with patient care. Lt. Fox herself participated in surgery, administering anesthesia, during the heaviest part of the bombardment. Afterwards, she, with the other nurses, tended to the wounded.

On October 26, 1942, in recognition of her efforts, Fox became the first woman in American history to be awarded the Purple Heart medal. Her citation read in part:

“During the attack, Lieutenant Fox in an exemplary manner, performed her duties as head nurse of the Station Hospital. . . . [She] worked ceaselessly with coolness and efficiency and her fine example of calmness, courage, and leadership was of great benefit to the morale of all with whom she came in contact.”

Four other Army nurses were also recognized for their performance during the attack. Captain Helena Clearwater, First Lieutenant Elizabeth A. Pesut, Second Lieutenant Elma L. Asson, and Second Lieutenant Rosalie L. Swenson each received the Legion of Merit “for extraordinary fidelity and essential service”.

Though at the time the Purple Heart award was most commonly awarded to service members wounded by enemy forces, it was occasionally awarded for any “singularly meritorious act of extraordinary fidelity or essential service.” The Purple Heart Award criteria changed in 1942 to be limited to wounds received as a result of enemy action. On October 6, 1944, Lt. Fox was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in replacement for her Purple Heart, which was rescinded. The Report of Decorations Board cited the same acts of heroism as for the Purple Heart.

The Army Nurse Corps had fewer than 1,000 nurses on December 7, 1941, the day of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Eighty-two Army nurses were stationed in Hawaii serving at three Army medical facilities that infamous day. By the end of World War II, more than 59,000 American nurses had served in the Army Nurse Corps. Nurses worked closer to the front lines than in any prior conflict, providing invaluable service at great personal risk. Nurses received 1,619 medals, citations, and commendations during the war, including sixteen medals awarded posthumously to women who died as a result of enemy fire. Lt. Fox and her thousands of fellow nurses exemplified the courage and dedication of all who served.

Explore Women’s Stories During Native American Heritage Month

November 18th, 2015

6264064421_3570b656fc_oFrom the very beginning of their history, from before the arrival of European explorers to after the westward expansion of American settlers, women have played an important role in Native culture, helping to lead and cultivate their Tribe’s unique society and influencing the future of America as well. November is officially designated as National Native American Heritage Month.

Sacagawea, arguably the most famous Native woman, became a symbol of America itself. There may be more monuments dedicated to Sacagawea (also spelled Sakakawea and Sacajawea) than to any other American woman. History embraces the story of the teenager with the baby on her back who led men across a dangerous, unknown continent. Susan B. Anthony cited Sacajawea in 1905 as an example of why women should be allowed to vote. More recently, a golden dollar coin was issued in her honor in 2000.

Beyond Sacagawea, Native women have contributed to all aspects of American society. Warriors like One Who Walks With Stars and Minnie Hollow Wood – who both fought at the Battle of Little Big Horn – and leaders like Glory of the Morning, Chief of the Hocak Nation and Queen Anne, Chief of the Pamunkey Tribe, fought for the continued existence of their Tribes and their way of life. Artists and storytellers like basket weaver Carrie Bethel and potter Vera Chino shared the beauty of their people’s lives and stories. In addition, women like Fidelia Fielding, the last native speaker of the Mohegan-Pequot language, passed down their knowledge.

More recently, Native women have continued the in the roles of their foremothers while also branching out into new roles such as being advocates for Indian Country and working to promote their interest at the federal level.

Whether it was as leaders, warriors, teachers or artists, Native women have contributed to the world around them. Today, countless women carry on the traditions of their foremothers, working to honor and preserve their Native heritage and continuing to help shape America.

Thanksgiving Holiday – One Woman’s Crusade

November 18th, 2015

sarahjhaleAfter enjoying the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving, consider how it was the result of one woman’s determination to unify America around a shared heritage.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a writer and the editor of a popular women’s magazine, Godey’s Ladies Book, was born on a New Hampshire farm in 1788. Her most lasting contribution to American culture was her tireless lobbying for a national day of thanks.  Hale published numerous editorials urging several American presidents to nationalize the celebration of Thanksgiving.  A New England resident, Hale had always celebrated Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving had been deeply entwined in the New England culture and tradition since the 17th century, and she thought it was important for everyone to celebrate it.  Hale’s persistence paid off when in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday.

Hale was a homemaker who turned to writing to support herself and her five children after the death of her husband in 1822. Hale achieved modest success with her first novel called Northwood; A Tale of New England. Northwood lovingly described a traditional New England Thanksgiving feast that included everything from the table arrangements to details of the food. “The roasted turkey took precedence on this occasion being placed at the head of the table; and well did it become its lordly station, sending forth the rich odour of is savoury stuffing, and finely covered with the frost of the basting.” Following Northwood’s success, Hale was solicited to become the editor of a new magazine aimed at women.

In 1836, Louis Godey convinced Hale to become the editor of his magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book. Godey’s reached a wide audience and covered topics ranging from health, beauty, cooking, gardening, and architecture. Godey’s Lady’s Book was one of the most influential magazines of the 19th century. Hale used her position as editor-in-chief to campaign for the establishment of a national day of Thanksgiving.  She wrote editorials and articles about the holiday and she lobbied state and federal officials to designate an annual, national day of thanks on the last Thursday of November, a measure which she believed would ease growing tensions between the North and South on the eve the Civil War. Her efforts paid off: by 1854, more than 30 states and U.S. territories had established Thanksgiving celebrations. In 1871, she launched a further crusade to have the national Thanksgiving Day proclaimed not by the President but by an act of Congress. Decades after her death, Congress passed a bill establishing that Thanksgiving would occur annually on the fourth Thursday of November. And on November 26, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the bill into law.

Learn about the origin of the holiday and our Mother of Thanksgiving, Sarah Josepha Hale, who lobbied to make Thanksgiving a national holiday that we all enjoy.

Saluting General Wilma Vaught – NWHM Board Member Receives Honorary Doctorate after Veterans Day

November 18th, 2015

The National Graduate School of Quality Management (NGS) Board of Trustees recently announced that Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught would be awarded the College’s highest honor – the Honorary Doctorate Degree of Letters in recognition of her life-long accomplishments in service to our country and as an advocate for education. This is only the fifth time in the College’s 22-year history that the Board has awarded its Honorary Doctorate. The award was presented at a ceremony November 12, 2015.

Gen. Vaught joined the U.S. military in 1957, before women were fully integrated into the command structure. Women’s enrollment was capped at 2% of the forces, and they were not allowed to command men, a situation that changed in 1967. She was the first woman to deploy with an Air Force bomber wing. She was promoted to brigadier general in 1980, and when she retired five years later, she was only one of seven female generals or admirals in all the armed forces.

Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught, USAF (Ret.) is President of the Board of Directors of the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc. She is a valued member of the NWHM’s Board of Trustees.

Interested in General Vaught’s story? Watch “A New Order: Women in the Military” https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXaqdQe8eghjoWIznZYlL6ovfaZVA72Vi

Find the Women Scavenger Hunt at the National Air and Space Museum

November 4th, 2015

Saturday, November 7, 2015
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum
600 Independence Ave SW, DC, DC

NWHM will host a scavenger hunt at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Participants will be given clues and a guide to find the places in the museum that feature women and their contributions. The scavenger hunt will be followed by an optional discussion in the museum’s food court. Meet at 10 a.m. in front of the Golden Age of Flight exhibit room on the first floor. The activity coordinator will remain at the Golden Age of Flight until 10:30 a.m., in case of late arrivals.

This is a family friendly event and both men and women are encouraged to attend. Bring your smart phone for a more interactive experience; however, paper forms will be available as well. To register go to http://nwhm.ticketleap.com/find-the-women-scavenger-hunt-at-national-air-and-space-museum/

National Women’s History Museum Launches Suffrage Resource Center

November 3rd, 2015

Chronicles U.S. Women Campaign to Win the Vote

Alexandria, VA – The National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) launched a one-stop interactive center on November 2 featuring multiple resources that chronicle the history and crusade by women in the United States for the right to vote.

Crusade for the Vote: Woman Suffrage Resource Center offers a comprehensive location online for history enthusiasts, educators and curious researchers to learn about the 72-year campaign to gain women equal voting rights. Visitors can access primary, secondary and interactive sources at www.nwhm.org. In addition, listen to experts discuss this significant moment in U.S. history on the Museum’s YouTube page. To watch, click here.

As attention for the new movie Suffragette shines a spotlight on the efforts of British women to win the right to vote, we are reminded that the campaign in the U.S. was a long and tenuous battle. While the first woman to vote was recorded as early as 1756, women did not earn universal suffrage until 1920. The campaign has been described as the longest, bloodless battle. While some students may be familiar with the stalwarts of the campaign like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ida B. Wells and Susan B. Anthony, there are dozens of other women like Emma DeVoe, Josephine Ruffin and others whose stories remain unknown.

“We know this is an important point in U.S. history but often women’s history is told in a very limited scope,” said NWHM Director of Programs Elizabeth Maurer. “Our goal in launching and offering Crusade for the Vote is to expand access to important historical resources and to help researchers understand the story in a comprehensive way.”

NWHM has chronicled this rich history through an all-inclusive source that features primary and secondary resources. From images to articles, biographies, and lesson plans, Crusade for the Vote: Woman Suffrage Resource Center is a one-stop shop to increase awareness about this pivotal moment in U.S. history. It traces the suffrage movement from the early colonial period through passage of the 19th Amendment. To access any of the resources, visitors can go to www.nwhm.org.

Based online, the Center is easy for students, parents, and teachers to navigate but also has broad interest for amateur researchers. Crusade for the Vote is a five-year initiative for the Museum. New resources will be added monthly leading to the 100th anniversary of passage of the 19th Amendment.

To learn more about the U.S. women suffrage campaign and the NWHM click here.

 

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 www.nwhm.org, 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 NWHM.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Media inquiries:

For press inquiries, please contact Melissa Williams, NWHM communications manager, mwilliams@nwhm.org or 703-416-1920.

 

 

Google Art Talk: Crusade for the Vote

October 14th, 2015

Join the Museum for a conversation on U.S. woman suffrage. A panel of experts will discuss the history of the woman suffrage movement, the National Woman’s Party, women and voting today and the impact of the movement.

Our panelists include: Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the Board of Directors for the League of Women Voters, Allison Lange, Ph.D., assistant professor of History at Wentworth Institute of Technology, and Jessica Tava, board member of Sewell Belmont House and Museum. Elizabeth Maurer, Director of Programs for the National Women’s History Museum, will serve as moderator.

Discussions will kick off 12 noon.

After registering, you will receive an email with the URL of the Talk. Sign up at http://nwhm.ticketleap.com/crusade-for-the-vote/

NWHM Chair Susan Whiting On Building a Home for Women’s History

October 14th, 2015

“First, I love the idea of prominently representing the history of American women’s contributions. Second, I’m excited to shape the next stage of an organization using the business experience from my career. I’m also a direct descendant of Susan B. Anthony, so I grew up hearing her story. I feel an obligation to ensure other stories are told as well.”

Read the full article at https://news.denison.edu/2015/10/a-home-for-history/

Celebrating 25 Years of the Women’s History Mobile Museum

October 13th, 2015

Today a “mobile museum” refers to a smart phone app, but in 1990 Jeanne and Robert Schramm introduced a truly mobile women’s history museum in their home town of West Liberty, West Virginia. Their refurbished school bus featured artifacts, documents, and memorabilia from twenty historic women who were among the 19th and 20th century’s most important social reformers and pioneers. The Women’s History Museum bus brought tangible history to schools and audiences across West Virginia and inspired visitors through learning important women’s history and celebrating women’s accomplishments. On December 6, 2008, the Schramms transferred their collection to National Women’s History Museum, which formed the nucleus of NWHM’s collection.

September 2015 marked the 25th anniversary of the Women’s History Museum bus. Those stories about women who made a difference now reach millions of people every year through NWHM’s exhibit space, Facebook page, and on-line exhibits. NWHM’s core, on-line exhibit Pathways to Equality showcases high-resolution images of many of the Schramm’s unique documents, using 21st century technology to engage today’s connected communities. While the Women’s History Museum bus was a mobile museum in its own way, the exhibits and the Schramm’s legacy are now “mobile” for a modern audience.

View all online exhibits >>