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Shelf Talk 39: Women's History Month

History is a great way of reminding generations to come of the sacrifices, hardships, and hard work others faced in past times. In March, we celebrate Women’s History Month as a reminder of the outstanding contributions women made for the sake of the future. Many great women paved the way for women’s rights, scientific discoveries, literature, art, athleticism, and a variety of other accomplishments.

The celebration of Women’s History Month started as Women's Day, first celebrated on March 9, 1911. The idea was inspired by the women who marched in New York City in March 1908 for voting rights, better pay with fewer hours, and to end child labor. Eventually, the idea of Women’s Day turned into a weeklong celebration. Then in 1987, the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress to designate March as Women’s History Month.

The fight against women’s suffrage in America did not start in March of 1908. This fight began decades before. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. The foundation was established to secure women’s votes as well as equal status in society. Though this was a step towards meeting that goal, there was still a long road towards achieving women’s rights. The 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote, was not ratified until 1920.

Apart from celebrating the political accomplishments made, Women’s History Month is also meant to acknowledge all the great achievements by women. One of the most famous scientists to date is Marie Curie. Curie is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and she spent her life studying radioactivity. She discovered the elements radium and polonium. Her work led the way for the use of radiation for medical purposes.

Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who worked for NASA, is another example of an exceptional woman. She was a member of the Space Task Group and the first woman to receive credit as an author on a research report. She made calculations for the first astronaut to be sent into space. She worked for NASA with many achievements before retiring in 1986.

I encourage you to visit your local library to check out the books on display in honor of Women’s History Month. Featured books tell the stories of individuals whose legacies continue to impact the world today, including more in-depth versions of the women previously mentioned. Each of these women stepped out of the “norm” to accomplish what they believed in. While you’re at the library, be sure to look for information regarding programs we offer by branch.

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