The History behind Women's History Month
Women's History Month began in 1978 as a week-long celebration created by the Sonoma County Commission in Sonoma, California. Schools in Sonoma County held numerous presentations, talks, and essay contests, along with a county parade in Santa Rosa. The week was chosen to coincide with International Women's Day, which began in Europe in the early 20th century. First held on February 28, 1909, International Women's Day has been held on March 8 since 1914. The holiday spread across the world until it was recognized by the United Nations in 1975.
Similarly, when the Sonoma County Commission created Women's History Week, the practice spread like wildfire across the United States. Grade schools, colleges, and cities alike realized that women's history was sorely lacking from most Americans' knowledge of history, and especially missing from school curriculums. The event caught the notice of U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who proclaimed the week of March 8 Women's History Week in 1980. Three years later, the U.S. Congress declared Women's History Week a national celebration.
In 1987, Congress expanded Women's History Week to Women's History Month at the request of the National Women's History Project, with bipartisan support. Every year since, the U.S. President has given a presidential address in honor of Women's History Month.
If you'd like to read up on some local women's history, check out this
by the Chicago Public Library, or our own website at