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Women's History Month

A list of resources to help the UMass Lowell community celebrate Women’s History Month. Find out more about the history and significance of this month, the important women from history, and those who are making it today.

History of Women's History Month

women protesters with large banner

Women's history has been a virtually unknown topic in school curriculum and in the general public consciousness. This situation was addressed by initiating a "Women's History Week" celebration for 1978 by the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women. The week of March 8th, International Women's Day, was chosen as the focal point of the observance. This came with an enthusiastic response from local communities and many schools began to plan special programs and activities for Women's History Week. Many community women participated in this as well by doing special presentations in classrooms throughout the country. An annual "Real Women" Essay Contest was also created from this and draws hundreds of entries. At the end of the week, a celebratory parade and program would be held in the center of downtown Santa Rosa, California. In 1979, a member of the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women, Molly Murphy MacGregor, was invited to participate in The Women's History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, which was chaired by noted by historian Gerda Lerner, and many nation leaders of organizations for women and girls were in attendance as well. When these participates had learned about the success of Sonoma County's Women's History Week, they have decided to initiate similar celebrations with their own organizations, communities, and school districts and agreed to support the effort in securing an official "National Women's History Week." Word spread rapidly across the nation and by 1986, 14 states  would have already declared March as Women's History Month. This momentum and state-by-state action was used to pressure and rational to lobby Congress to declare the entire month of March as National Women's History Month. By 1987, Congress declared March as National Women's History Month in perpetuity. A special Presidential Proclamation is issued every year which honors the extraordinary achievements of women.