Stories Defined and Told by Women | Facing History & Ourselves
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Stories Defined and Told by Women

Since recorded history, women have always found memorable ways to share their narratives and ensure that their stories do not go untold.

The theme for Women’s History Month in 2023 is Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories. The National Women’s History Alliance says this year’s theme “honors women in every community who have devoted their lives and talents to producing art, pursuing truth, and reflecting the human condition decade after decade.”

Storytelling can be a career, like with journalism or acting; but women who keep and tell stories exist far beyond professional life. From parents who sing to their children to the diarists who pen personal volumes, anyone can be a storyteller. For women, who over the centuries have so often had to express themselves outside of the establishment, the paths to collecting, forging, and sharing stories has led to groundbreaking creative works. 

Storytelling is empowering. This is particularly important for women who, by crafting narratives, own their stories and lead their audiences through their specific experiences and perspectives.

The need for women storytellers remains critical.

Just last year high school senior Micaela Wells wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post titled “In my advanced high school history textbook, it’s as if women didn’t exist.” The absence of marginalized voices in history books is a well-documented problem, and yet even at Micaela’s nationally ranked school, this glaring error is far from being resolved.

And in 2019, Smithsonian Magazine published a piece called “Women Scientists Were Written Out of History.” Like the majority of historically male-dominated professions, female academics were routinely sidelined, but Margaret Rossiter is committed to bringing their accomplishments to light.

The personal agency that storytelling affords, and the countless ways that stories can be told, has always been vital to our understanding of the world in all its fullness. Our grasp of history is reliant on nurturing diverse storytellers and giving everyone space to use their voice. 

Ladies and gentlemen take the spotlight in March during Women’s History Month, but the contributions of women belong throughout the full arc of the history we learn and teach. As we celebrate the artful narratives and powerful stories of women this month, Facing History has collected a list of resources to help you highlight notable female heroes and how they left their mark.  


Mini-Lesson: The Equal Rights Amendment: A 97-Year Struggle
This overview of the ERA looks at the history behind the struggle to ratify the amendment that would formally guarantee women equal rights to men under the US Constitution.

Article: “School of American Ballet Trailblazer – Maria Tallchief”
A member of the Osage Nation, Tallchief was America’s first prima ballerina. Learn more about her journey toward dance and watch footage of her performing.

Article: The New York Times: “52 Years Later, IBM Apologizes for Firing Transgender Woman”
Early in her career Lynn Conway faced intense discrimination for being a transgender woman. She did not let this define her, instead becoming an accomplished engineer and an advocate. 

Professional Learning: Unsung Women of the Civil Rights Movement
Examine the impact of Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Constance Baker Motley, and other women whose contributions to the Civil Rights Movement have not always been recognized.

Video: Every Day the Impossible: Jewish Women in the Partisans
Hear former Jewish partisans reflect on women's participation in organized resistance groups during the Holocaust.

Podcast: PRI’s The World: “This Woman’s Work: ‘Black Gold’ by Nina Simone”
The background and influence of singer and pianist Nina Simone is discussed alongside her album 1969 Black Gold, recorded in front of a packed New York City’s Philharmonic Hall.

Profiles: 10 Women Who Made History
Get to know key figures from women’s history and contemporary life with this pictorial collection.

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