Celebrating American
Women's History

Stephanie Stebich, co-chair of the American Women’s History Initiative
November192018

Sally Ride. Harriet Tubman. Henrietta Lacks. Each of these remarkable women—an astronaut, an abolitionist, a pioneer in medical science—had lasting impact on American history, and each is embedded in the Smithsonian’s collections, where they have inspired generations of women and girls.

They are among the many women whose stories the Smithsonian will tell as part of its American Women’s History Initiative, Because of Her Story, launched Nov. 13. The institution-wide effort will document, research, collect and display the experiences of women in America, with a focus on women whose accomplishments have been overlooked in the past.

“We all need to do a better job recognizing and celebrating the impact women have made throughout our nation’s history and their increasing importance in every facet of our national life, a fact underscored by the record numbers of women set to fill the halls of Congress,” said David Skorton, Secretary of the Smithsonian.

Several exhibitions will open next year as part of the initiative, with more to come in 2020 in recognition of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States. The Smithsonian has hired six new curators devoted to women’s history and related areas.

The initiative includes collections care projects such as preserving the National Air and Space Museum’s Northrop T-38A flown by Jacqueline Cochran, and cataloging of 1,800 objects in the women’s political history collection at the National Museum of American History.

In October 2019, Smithsonian Books will release Smithsonian American Women: Women’s History from the National Collection [working title], featuring more than 280 artifacts from Smithsonian museums, archives, research centers and libraries.

“With this initiative, we will rewrite the narrative of American history by amplifying women’s voices, reaching diverse audiences and empowering future generations,” said Stephanie Stebich, co-chair of the American Women’s History Initiative.

Secretary David Skorton and Brooke Baldwin

At the Nov. 13 launch event, Secretary of the Smithsonian David Skorton and CNN anchor and journalist Brooke Baldwin discussed the importance of elevating women’s voices in politics, news media and museums. “It’s on us to make sure this is not just a moment, it’s a movement,” said Baldwin. Photo by Ronda Ann Gregorio.

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Image Credit: Ronda Ann Gregorio

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