March is Woman’s History Month, a whole month dedicated to celebrating the amazing women in history; their accomplishments, their inventions, and their revolutionary attitudes. Although there are thousands of women who are noteworthy, I’ve selected one woman to represent each era discussed in the forthcoming article. These selected women (I believe) represent and capture the sentiments of the era they are coupled with.
Revolutionary War – Molly Pincher
Molly Pitcher is a nickname that was given to a very brave woman who is said to have fought in the Battle of Monmouth. Historians believe her to be Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, there is no official documentation of who this woman was but one of the most important things about her is that she became a symbol of the many women who carried water to men on the battlefield.
Civil War – Clara Barton
Clara Barton was the founder of the Red Cross; she was a pioneer nurse and voiced the importance of nursing and medical aid. She was also a teacher, patent clerk, and a humanitarian. She devoted her life to helping others – in a time when most women were expected to occupy their role as home-makers Clara Barton defied societal norms and followed her natural altruism.
Industrialization/Progressive Era – Ida Tarbell
Ida Tarbell is one of the most memorable Muckrakers of the Progressive Era – she is most well known for her book “The History of Standard Oil,” which exposed the evils and corrupt nature of John D. Rockefeller (who was depicted as “money-grabbing” and miserly. A muckraker could be considered an early form of an investigative journalist. These men and women worked to expose political corruption and “social ill.” Similarly, Tarbell helped expose the corrupt ways of the Era (specifically the corrupt nature of Standard Oil) and will forever be remembered.
WWI – Georgia O’Keefe
Georgia O’Keefe is very well known for her paintings of enlarged blossoms, she is said to be the mother of American Modernism. American Modernism is the ideological belief that humans have the power to change and influence their surrounding environment. The Modernist movement began in the early 20th century as industrialization was booming due to WWI; it was a response to the impersonal atmosphere that came with industrialization. Modernists aimed to bring back individualism – and post-WWI, inspire citizens to “pick up the pieces” and use their influence to change the world they were living in.
Great Depression – Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt is known as the longest serving first-lady of United States History. She is known as a very controversial first lady because of her outspoken nature; she is specifically known for her voiced opinions on racial issues. Most importantly she oversaw the drafting of the “Declaration of Human Rights.” This stated that there were rights that all humans were entitled to, regardless of race, religion, sex, geographical location, etc. The declaration of these rights was appropriate post WWII; but the involvement of Eleanor Roosevelt with the publication of these rights speaks to the changing nature of the US at that point. The Declaration of Human Rights highlighted the need for change in the United States – something that Eleanor Roosevelt deeply supported.
WWII – Rosie the Riveter
“Rosie the Riveter” became a national symbol of hard work, a nationalistic mindset, and a “we can do it” attitude. Rosie became very popular during the WWII-era where women on the home front began to fill the positions of men that were off at war. Rosie motivated women to help their country by working in factories, grow their own victory gardens, or become nurses. Rosie made the “Home-front” as important as it became – but she did so much more than this. She involved the 2nd half of the population in the war, she made women feel empowered, and she made women feel like equal participants – for, she clarified that helping to win the war did not have to include fighting overseas.
Civil Rights Movement – Rosa Parks
Moving on to the Civil Rights movement era – Rosa Parks is most famous for her bus boycott. This memorable boycott included her refusal to stand up and move to the back of the bus for a white male. Although this is what she is most well-known for Rosa Parks was a Civil Rights activist for the rest of her life. This may have been one action on one day, but this single action stands for the Civil Rights movement ideologically as a whole – the refusal to accept the label of second class citizenry.
All of these women are phenomenal role models, but they are all different and special in their own ways. The major thing that they have in common is that they were all very influential; each of them not only lived incredible and noteworthy lives; they all changed and affected many people’s lives. There of course, many more women that I could have chosen – this made choosing even more difficult. You also might have noticed that I stopped after the Civil Rights Era; this is because as women’s rights have increased even more monumental/influential women have developed. It has just become too difficult for me to just pick one woman to represent an era as the dawn of the 21st century has come. Woman’s History Month is meant for just what this article has done; it is meant to remember the wonderful, motivational, and memorable women that have populated our rich history.