This year we opened the Center for Women’s History at the New-York Historical Society, the first institution of its kind within the walls of a major U.S. museum. Since then, we’ve been sharing the stories of formidable women whose courage, activism, and determination in the face of resistance inspire us all. It’s been a busy year!
A Robust Slate of Women’s History Exhibitions
Through exhibitions in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery, we’ve celebrated the work of transformative American women like First Lady Dolley Madison, whose impact on our early democracy has long been overlooked; photographer Editta Sherman, whose unique eye captured American luminaries in captivating portraits; and the revolutionary artists and activists of early 20th-century Greenwich Village now on view in Hotbed, including Jessie Tarbox Beals, Crystal Eastman, and Edna St. Vincent Millay, who fought to expand the roles of women in American society. Just outside the gallery, our wall cases feature artifacts from athlete Billie Jean King, whose legendary achievements in tennis are surpassed only by her work as an advocate for equal rights, and an interactive multimedia exhibit Women’s Voices, which gives voice to famous and forgotten women—and the movements and networks to which they belonged—alongside video commentary from leading historians of women.
Pathbreaking Scholarly and Educational Initiatives
Women’s history is American history, and we are committed to furthering the study and teaching of women’s history at every level. This year, in partnership with our Education Department, we launched the first unit of our new nine-unit curriculum guide for grades 6-12, Women and the American Story. We hosted our second annual Diane and Adam E. Max Conference on Women’s History, a day-long series of discussions and conversations that, in 2016, explored reproductive rights in historical context. We created an early career workshop for 20 doctoral students and recent PhDs studying women’s history, connecting this next generation of scholars to mentors from our Scholarly Advisory Committee. And, in partnership with Columbia University, we launched the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on women’s history, Women Have Always Worked. Created and led by the chair of our Scholarly Committee, Alice Kessler-Harris, this free and open course introduces students to the full sweep of women’s history in the United States.
A New Film and Stimulating Public Programs
In the last two months alone, we premiered our new film We Rise, narrated by Meryl Streep and featuring the song We Are Here by Alicia Keys. We Rise highlights the work of activist Addie Hunton, Henry Street Settlement founder Lillian Wald, Tiffany Studios’ head designer Clara Driscoll, birth control revolutionary Margaret Sanger, and other women whose accomplishments in the early 1900s still resonate today. We welcomed journalists Joy-Ann Reid and Irin Carmon for a riveting Women’s History Council Salon Conversation exploring the role and impact of women in journalism, media, and politics today, and hosted Scholarly Advisory Committee members Blanche Wiesen Cook and Lara Vapnek in our Skylight Gallery for a discussion of the “Women of the Village” with our Hotbed curators.
More Great Women’s History Coming in 2018
We’re just getting started; our goals are as bold and ambitious as the women whose stories we chronicle. Look for more great exhibitions, public programs, scholarly initiatives, and educational resources from the Center for Women’s History in the new year! And follow us here on Behind the Scenes, where our #womenatthecenter series publishes every Tuesday.
– The Staff of the Center for Women’s History, New-York Historical Society
This post is part of our new series, “Women at the Center,” written and edited by the staff of the Center for Women’s History. Look for new posts every Tuesday! #womenatthecenter
Top Photo Credits: Don Pollard for New-York Historical Society