Because of Her Story

In America’s most defining moments—times that shaped constitutional rights, yielded scientific breakthroughs, created the symbols of our nation—a diversity of women’s stories has not been widely told. To create a more equitable and just American society, the Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative (AWHI) will create, educate, disseminate, and amplify the historical record of the accomplishments of American women. The Smithsonian wants the role of women in American history to be well-known, accurate, acknowledged, and empowering. 

With a digital-first mission and focus, the initiative uses technology to amplify a diversity of women’s voices—not in one gallery or museum, but throughout the Smithsonian’s many museums, research centers, cultural heritage affiliates, and wherever people are online—reaching millions of people in Washington, D.C., across the nation, and around the world.

We invite you to join us by exploring untold stories with our American Women’s History Initiative. #BecauseOfHerStory

A group of African American women posed on a staircase
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative?

The Smithsonian launched the American Women’s History Initiative—Because Of Her Story—in  2018. The initiative is one of the country’s most ambitious undertakings to research, collect, document, display, and share the compelling story of women. It is inclusive, highlighting the stories of those who identify as women and those who were designated female but self-identify differently.

On December 27, 2020, Congress enacted legislation to create the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum, dedicated to the contributions women have made throughout U.S. history. Planning is currently underway for the new museum. The Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative will continue to work independently while the museum is being established.

Why the Smithsonian?

For more than 170 years, the Smithsonian has been recognized around the world for its scholarship and collections, which are made up of national treasures and artifacts held in trust for the American people. Millions of visitors from all walks of life are drawn to our museums, free and open 364 days a year. They come to see themselves reflected in America’s diverse story and to understand their place in the world.

The curators and educators hired through the American Women’s History Initiative will fill the gaps in our national narrative, shedding light on untold women’s stories. 

How is the initiative being funded?

The American Women’s History Initiative is funded through a public-private partnership with Congress, the American people and private donors, corporations and foundations.

We are grateful to the following leadership donors who have contributed to the initiative as of April 20, 2020:

19th Amendment Society
Mary and David Boies
The Case Foundation
Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation
Ford Foundation
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
David M. Rubenstein
Elaine P. Wynn & Family Foundation

Lead Donors
Acton Family Giving
The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
Craig Newmark Philanthropies

Major Sponsors
Booz Allen Hamilton
The Coca-Cola Foundation

First Century Leaders
Melissa and Trevor Fetter
Sakurako, Remy, Rose and Jess Fisher
Julie and Greg Flynn
Rick and Susan Goings Foundation
HISTORY/A+E Networks
Mrs. Kathleen K. Manatt and Michele A. Manatt
Sue Payne
Christine and William Ragland
Alison Wrigley Rusack Deborah Sara Santana     
Smithsonian Women’s Committee

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