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Women’s History

Oral history series now included in NCpedia

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"Listening to History" in NCpedia. Click here to visit the collection.

“Listening to History” in NCpedia. Click here to visit the collection.

What impression did the Glen Coal Mine Disaster leave on a seven year old who witnessed it?  What role did a student leader at Shaw University play in the Civil Rights movement? What was life like on the home front in World War II for women taking on traditional male jobs? What is the role of place in a person’s life and memory?

These and many other themes are brought to life in captivating, personal stories found in David Cecelski’s “Listening to History” series, now included in NCpedia.

For ten years, historian David Cecelski’s monthly “Listening to History” series appeared in a Sunday edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer. The oral history series included personal histories of important events as well as of daily life in North Carolina in different places and times. Photographs of the interviewees, many taken by the News & Observer’s Chris Seward, add an even deeper connection to the pieces. The series began as part of the “Listening for a Change” project supported through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Southern Oral History Program.

Through a collaboration between David Cecelski, the News & Observer, and the N.C. Government & Heritage Library, all of “Listening to History” pieces may now be found in NCpedia at http://ncpedia.org/listening-to-history/.

Take a look, and let us know what gems you find!

North American Women’s Letters and Diaries

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picture of a nurse during WWII

In honor of Women’s History Month, I want to highlight the database North American Women’s Letters and Diaries, which contain letters and diaries for approximately 1,325 women in over 150,000 pages. It’s the largest collection of its kind. The letters and diaries are from women of all ages and ethnicities that were collected from primarily published sources, but also about 6,000 unpublished sources as well. All documents in the database date from colonial times to the mid twentieth century.

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Women’s History Month 2016: “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government”

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"The Suffragists' Calendar, a Year-Book for Every Thinking Woman," P.F. Vollard & Co., 1916. From the the Gertrude Weil Papers, State Archives of North Carolina. Online at NC Digital Collections.

“The Suffragists’ Calendar, a Year-Book for Every Thinking Woman,” P.F. Vollard & Co., 1916. From the the Gertrude Weil Papers, State Archives of North Carolina. Online at NC Digital Collections.

March is Women’s History Month!  And the selection of March for the commemoration is no co-incidence.  On March 8, 1908 amidst a police presence, female garment workers took to the streets of New York City to commemorate the march of their needle-worker forebears on March 8, 1857.  Both marches demanded better working conditions, shorter days, and equal rights.  The 1908 march also demanded the vote.

The following year, 1909, the Socialist Party was in full-swing advocating the cause of women, and the first National Women’s Day in the U.S. was designated by the Socialist Party of America to remember the march of the prior year.  By 1911, as an outgrowth of the second International Conference of Working Women held in Copenhagen the year before, International Women’s Day was celebrated on the last Sunday in February for the first time in a number of European countries.  In 1913, March 8 became firmly established as the annual celebration of International Women’s Day.  Sixty years later, the United Nations would designate 1975 as the International Women’s Year.

Although these events were celebrated in the U.S. with increasing advocacy for equality and the illumination of women’s history, it was not until 1981 that Congress authorized the president to proclaim the week of March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.”  The year before, President Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation marking the week of March 8, 1980 as National Women’s History Week.  From then until 1987, Congress passed annual resolutions marking the week each year until a petition in 1987 by the National Women’s History Project succeeded in securing Congressional approval for March as National Women’s History Month.  All presidents since have issued proclamations for Women’s History Month in March.

This year’s theme for the national celebration — “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government” — is opportunity to share the extraordinary work of North Carolina’s women in the history of the women’s movement and in working to improve the lives of others. Throughout the month, we’ll share biographies, images, historical collections, and books that help tell these stories.

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