Every year, the National Women‚Äôs History Project¬†honors a diverse range of women in order to¬†”draw strength and inspiration from those who came before us.” These women have contributed to American society in a variety of ways, and the NWHP strives to include these women in our collective history. This year’s theme is¬†‚ÄúWorking to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.‚Äù
Judy Hart (1941-present) was the founding superintendent of both the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park and the Women‚Äôs Rights Historical National Park in New York, raising awareness of women‚Äôs history in America. Previously unrecognized and under-funded, the vital contributions of women throughout American history have been, through the work of Judy Hart,¬†publicly recognised and honored through the National Park system.
Oveta Culp Hobby (1905-1995) was the first secretary of the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and the first director of the Women‚Äôs Army Corps. Having received a Law degree from the University of Texas, she worked as a parliamentarian for the Texas House of Representatives. During WWII, Oveta headed the War Department‚Äôs Women‚Äôs Interest section before becoming the director of the Women‚Äôs Army Corps, created to fill gaps left by a shortage of men during the war. For her efforts during the war, Oveta received the Distinguished Service Medal, becoming the first women in the army to be so honored. After the war, Overta returned to Houston to help run the Houston Post with her husband, but in 1953 President Eisenhower named her the head of the Federal Security Agency, a post she held until 1953.
Barbara Mikulski (1936-present) is the longest-serving woman in the history of the United States Congress and is currently the senior United States Senator for Maryland and a member of the Democratic Party. Following a career in social and community work, she was first elected to the Baltimore City Council in 1971, becoming the first woman elected to the United State Senate from Maryland in 1986. During her time as a representative of the United States Congress, Barbara has been a strong supporter of women‚Äôs issues, including her involvement in legislation for breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatment for uninsured patients. During election campaigns, she also campaigned for other female Democrat candidates across the country and called for all women to exercise their right to vote.
Inez Milholland (1886-1916) was a suffragist, labor lawyer and public speaker that greatly influenced the women‚Äôs movement in the US as an active member of the National Women‚Äôs Party and a key participant in the Woman‚Äôs Suffrage Parade in 1913. Her interest in the women‚Äôs movement was evident even during her college years, defying a campus ban on the suffragist Harriet Stanton Blatch by gathering her classmates in a nearby cemetery to hear the talk, in addition to establishing the Vassar Votes for Women Club. Following her graduation, she lectured, arranged rallies and testified at hearings on behalf of the Women‚Äôs Political Union. She worked tirelessly to spread awareness and understanding of the cause, and died aged only thirty following a speech and suffering from severe anemia. Her memorial service was the first ever held for a woman in Statuary Hall, Washington DC.
Karen Narasaki (1958-present) is an American civil rights leader and activist, appointed in 2014 by President Obama as the Commissioner on the United States Commission on Civil Rights. She is also the executive director of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice organization, which advances the human and civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans through advocacy, policy, education and litigation. Following her graduation from Yale University, Karen worked as a corporate attorney at the international law firm, Perkins Coie, but also acted as a leading civil rights activist and Asian American and women‚Äôs rights groups. She has since been an influential figure on many boards, addressing civil and human rights, particularly for minority communities and women.
For more inspirational women, have a look at our past Heroine Quilts (2016’s is coming in March!). Also, check out Podbean or iTunes for all our Girl Museum podcasts. ¬†And if you like what you hear, consider becoming a patron to help support future productions of GirlSpeak.
Girl Museum Inc.