[Preservation Tips and Tools] The First Step for Putting Women Back in History
Gerda Lerner, a pioneering scholar of women’s history, looked back on several decades of research in women’s history and divided it into four phases, each building on the other to reach a complex understanding of the history of women. Lerner saw historians of the 1960s doing what she called “compensatory history" -- that is, looking for women and inserting them into male-dominated history. She compared historians of that period to Diogenes with his lantern, seeking simply to find the women. Today, many historic sites are still wandering with their lanterns, trying to find the women’s stories represented there. Here are some suggestions to help you illuminate the lives of women at a historic place that matters to you, whether it is a historic site or your own home. Read more: http://blog.preservationnation.org/category/preservation-tips-tools/
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - [Preservation Tips and Tools] The First Step for Putting Women Back in History
Seven Tips for
BACK IN HISTORY
Every site has women’s history.
Every single historic site is a women’s history site -- including the ones you
don’t think are. If you think not, look again, and think about what prejudices
or blind spots you might bring to the process.
Include women in a wider context.
Always put the women and girls at a site into a wider context of
history. Begin to incorporate women and girls into your broader
narrative even before you find specific stories pertaining to the women
who were there.
Think about all of the women.
Share how expectations for women varied by culture and time.
Overall, women were essential to the economy but not always visible,
so tell the whole (and often untold) story.
Use resources connected to women.
Start by looking around! Assess what you already know about the
women of the household. Don’t assume you have already unearthed
everything. If you are near a college or university, find an enthusiastic
intern to help.
See women in a more inclusive role.
Think about women not only in relation to men, but also as
independent actors. Historic places were complex and
interconnected, just like human relationships. Show those organic
relationships in your interpretation as well.
Do interpret needlework, cooking,
and other “typical” women’s
endeavors, but look beyond them
too. Women were -- and are --
Let the women
Use direct quotes from the
women or from their
contemporaries. Add well-
documented stories to your
narrative. Don’t make anything up
or rely on legend; the real story is
always more interesting.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America’s
historic places. Preservation Tips & Tools helps others do the same
in their own communities.
For more information, visit blog.preservationnation.org.
Photos Courtesy: Villa Lewaro Madam C.J. Walker’s
estate, 1924: A’Lelia Bundles/Madam Walker Family
Archives. First Lady Truman with Girl Scouts, 1952:
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration,
Wikimedia Commons. African American Woman
Machinist at DC Naval Gun Factory, 1943: Washington
Area Spark, Flickr. Excavations at the old Champoeg
townsite in Oregon, 1974: John Atherton, Flickr. Mary
McLeod Bethune with Daytona school girls: Moni3 and
Florida State Archives Photographic Collection,
Wikimedia Commons. Female blacksmith interpreter at
Colonial Williamsburg: Jessica A. Ross, Google
Creative Commons Images. Madam C.J. Walker
driving: Theda, Wikimedia Commons.