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Women’s History Month: A New Look for a Rich Resource

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(The following guest post was written by Stephen Wesson, an educational resources specialist in the Education Outreach Division.)

Screen shot of the Women's History Portal
Screen shot of the Women’s History Month Portal

The signatures of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone appear on “A Petition for Universal Suffrage.” A photograph captures Eleanor Roosevelt as she takes her seat as chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The first woman to serve as Librarian of Congress delivers her first address from the Library’s Great Hall by video.

Each of these historical artifacts illuminates aspects of women’s experiences in a different era of U.S. history, and each is held in the collections of a different cultural institution. These items, and dozens more like them, can be easily explored in one place: the Women’s History Month Portal, redesigned and relaunched just in time for the March celebration of Women’s History Month.

The portal is the result of a collaborative effort undertaken several years ago by a group of museums and other institutions to commemorate and encourage the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. The Library of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum brought together links to exhibits and collections that shed light on landmark moments of women’s history, along with educational resources that provide context and teaching suggestions.

The Women’s History Month Portal now has a new look and new functionality to make it even easier to use. In recognition of the rising number of mobile users, it has a mobile-friendly adaptive visual design. A new and improved video player brings multimedia collection items to the forefront, and new content ensures that users have access to the most compelling objects each institution has to offer.

In the Library’s Educational Outreach Division, we’re especially aware of the power of primary sources to engage learners, build critical thinking skills and support the creation of new knowledge, so we’re delighted to share this engaging site with our K–12 audience. It provides rich opportunities to make connections between materials that not only represent a wide range of historical eras and media types, but also reflect the different strengths and varied approaches of the participating institutions.

We can see ourselves directing learners to the Library’s Primary Source Set on Women’s Suffrage to gather photographs and maps documenting the suffrage struggle, then to the National Park Service for accounts of important suffrage-related places, and on to DocsTeach from the National Archives to support students as they place suffrage artifacts into context.

The Women’s History Month Portal is one of a series of sites created by this collaborative group, all of which have been overhauled and relaunched over the past year. The full suite of heritage portals also includes sites for African American History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, National Hispanic Heritage Month, and Native American Heritage Month.

As the year progresses, we hope you’ll turn to these portals to investigate the dramatic events and compelling personalities that have shaped the communities they commemorate. And we hope the intriguing objects that they make available will encourage you to further explore the organizations that brought these sites into being.

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