|ASA staff helped kick off Arkansas|
Women's History Month recently
at the Old State House Museum.
“Arkansas Women’s History Month is important because it recognizes and highlights women’s accomplishments in all aspects of life and society,” said Dr. David Ware, state historian and director of the Arkansas State Archives. “This is simple justice for those who have gone before us, and even better, it points the way ahead for the women who will lead us in decades to come.”
Historically, women’s rights were limited in the U.S., which makes historical research into their families and legacies more challenging. As recently as the 1970s, women’s history was largely omitted from school curriculums. Women’s History Week was established in 1978 in response to the lack of history about women in schools, and President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation for National Women’s History Week in 1980. The weeklong celebration turned into all of March in 1987, when Congress declared National Women’s History Month.
In the early days of the
telephone industry, telephone
operators were predominantly
women. This photo shows women
at the Little Rock Telephone Co.
on a typical day in 1915.
Photo courtesy of the
Arkansas State Archives.
The Arkansas Women’s Suffrage Commemoration Committee also participated in the event commemorating the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, which went into effect 100 years ago on Aug. 26, 1920.
Throughout history, Arkansas women have made enormous contributions in religion, arts, education, politics, civil rights and sciences in Arkansas and nationally. These women leaders include Dale Evans, an actress and songwriter who moved to Osceola, Arkansas, at 7 years old before rising to fame as the cowgirl “Queen of the West” and Little Rock born watercolorist Catherine Tharp Altvater, whose work hangs in museums that include The Museum of Modern Art and who became the first woman to hold office in the American Watercolor Society.
Short biographies of significant women from Arkansas are available on the Arkansas Women’s History Institute’s website at ArkansasWomen.org.
Since 2015, the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame also has recognized the accomplishments and achievements of Arkansas women. The deadline to nominate a woman for 2020 is March 9. Inductees have included performer, poet and author Maya Angelou and Dr. Mary Lowe Good, a renowned chemist, innovator, professor and government leader.
“Without women’s stories, historical narratives are at once flat and lopsided — like long-playing records full of nothing but battles and politics,” Ware said. “Embracing and exploring women’s history shows us a more complex story — it helps us, as a society, sort out what we are and how we became this way.”
The Arkansas State Archives holds historically significant photos, documents and teacher plans on Arkansas women’s history online at Archives.Arkansas.gov. For more information, visit the Arkansas State Archives at 1 Capitol Mall, Suite 215, call 501-682-6900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.