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Women’s History MonthMarch 2010 Cyber Exhibit Writing Women Back into History Presented by Federally Employed Women (FEW) Part 2
Women’s History Month • Sometimes it wasn’t a need to change society that drove young women to move. Sometimes it was necessity. • Elinore Pruitt Stewart, Elizabeth (Bachelor Bess) Corey, and Edith Eudora and Ida Mary Ammons are a few examples of women who uprooted their lives and faced incredible odds against their very survival because the change was deemed the lesser of evils. • These women became homesteaders in the early years of the 20th century.
Women’s History Month Elinore Pruitt Stewart • Elinore moved from Denver, Colorado, with her young daughter Jerrine after her husband was killed in a tragic railroad accident. • With not much more than ambition and determination, she moved to Burnt Fork, Wyoming.
Women’s History Month Elinore Pruitt Stewart • In 1909, Elinore wanted to prove that she could own and operate her own ranch. • She bought land that was adjacent to an existing homesteader’s – a dour Scotsman, who, though dour, hid a kind heart.
Women’s History Month Elinore Pruitt Stewart • In time, Elinore accepted his marriage proposal on condition that he not help her finish proving up her claim. She had to do it herself. • In the end, she said, “I have tried every kind of work this ranch affords and I can do any of it.”
Women’s History Month Elizabeth (Bachelor Bess) Corey • “Bachelor Bess” Corey left her small-town Iowa farm when the family got too big and the house too small.
Women’s History Month Elizabeth (Bachelor Bess) Corey • Like Elinore, she moved to Pierre, South Dakota, in 1909. For the next ten years, she “proved up” her land – worked as a teacher to pay for having a home built on the land that was habitable. • And like Elinore, she proved herself up to the task.
Women’s History Month Edith Eudora • The Ammons sisters were among many single women who went to Burnt Thigh, SD, in 1907, to try their luck at homesteading. • Within a few weeks, Edith was running a newspaper, Ida Mary was teaching school and they were helping other single women settle in.
Women’s History Month Inspiring Books • For inspiration, a dose of determination, or just a boost to your morale, settle down sometime with Land of Burnt Thigh, by Edith Eudora Kohl; or Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart, or Bachelor Bess, edited by Philip Gerber.
Women’s History Month • Other books that can inspire a renewed sense of self, confidence, and, perhaps, just a bit of awe are • A Quilt of Words by Sharon Niederman and Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlisssel.
Women’s History Month • The women in these pages write of delivering babies; burying children, husbands, and parents; overcoming obstacles it boggles the mind to imagine today, and moving on - no matter what. • After reading about encounters with dust storms, torrential rains, flooded rivers, snakes, snow storms, crop failures, and other seemingly insurmount-able odds, all from inside or beside a cumbersome covered wagon, a woman of the 21st century might begin to think that commuting by car or subway or bus isn’t so bad, after all.
Women’s History Month Mary Chestnut • Today’s woman might even say to herself, “If she can deal with all that, then I can deal with my problems!” • Or think about a woman of another generation in your own family who withstood tremendous odds to dare to be herself. Maybe ”Great-great-Aunt Hattie” wasn’t such a “bare branch” on the family tree, after all! • Many may recall Ken Burn’s Civil War documentary in which he quoted from Mary Chestnut’s diary from time to time. Hers is but one of a vast resource of women’s diaries from both sides of the conflict.
Women’s History Month Mary Chestnut • Through her eyes – and countless other women like her on both sides of the conflict – readers today can experience what it must have been like to go from having everything she wanted within reach to watching Richmond fall to ruin as it came under attack in the latter days of the war.
Women’s History Month Mary Chestnut • She didn’t have the medium of television and the internet to bring immediacy to events. Photography was still in its infancy as a medium for recording events. Therefore, she had to rely on her pen and paper if she was to preserve her impressions for future generations. Thankfully, she did – and other women down the ages did so, as well, capturing the look, feel, and experiences of other wars.
Women’s History Month • And not just American women had a story to share. Women inside Germany during World War II captured their thoughts as best they could on limited supplies and years later recorded them more permanently for future generations: books like Frauen, Berlin Diary, and the Diary of Marie-Louis Osmont.
Women’s History Month Marie-Louis Osmont • Mary-Louise’s diary was referenced in a Discovery Channel documentary commemorating the 50th anniversary of D-Day.
Women’s History Month • There were also the women who took a more active role, working in the French underground and British spy networks during World War II, risking life and limb because they believed passionately in what they were doing to help others live free.
Women’s History Month Vera Atkins • One such woman was Vera Atkins, known as a Spymistress in England’s Secret Operations unit.
Women’s History Month Vera Atkins • Her job was to train men and women as spies who would then be sent out into the field of action. • After the war, she financed her own trip throughout Europe, interviewing people who had captured – and, for the most part, killed her operatives who never returned.
Women’s History Month Vera Atkins • She earned her nickname, Spymistress, from Bill Donovan, the master spy known as Intrepid - that’s how good she was at what she did. • She would not rest until she knew what had happened to each and every one who had been missing.
Women’s History Month Wilma Vaught • Other women sought and found an even more active way to serve their country – through military service. • Wilma Vaught, Brigadier General, USAF (Ret.), is one of the most highly decorated military women in United States history.
Women’s History Month Wilma Vaught • She broke through many of the bureaucratic and gender barriers that faced women in the armed forces during her nearly twenty-nine year military career. The many "firsts" she achieved helped pave the way for thousands of other military women to be judged based on their abilities, and not their gender. In 1967, Lyndon Johnson signed into law a measure finally permitting women to be promoted to the level of generals and admirals. That same law also lifted the quotas that had been placed on women in achieving other ranks.
Women’s History Month Wilma Vaught • Today, due to the efforts of General Vaught and others like her, women have much more equality and respect, although, as Vaught insists, much still needs to be achieved. • After her distinguished military career, she went on to spearhead the initiative to fund a standing memorial to other women who had and are serving.
Women’s History Month Wilma Vaught • The Women in Military Service to America Museum (WIMSA) stands at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Women’s History Month Wilma Vaught • Retired General Vaught has done much to ensure military women are written back into history. • For more on women’s accomplish-ments in military service, check out Grace Hopper, Navy Admiral and Computer Pioneer, Women in the Military, an Unfinished Revolution, Winning My Wings, a Woman Airforce Service Pilot in World War II, and The First, the Few, the Forgotten, Navy and Marine Corps Women in World War I.
Women’s History Month • These vignettes are just a mere handful of examples of women’s stories that are out there for the sampling. • Visit your local library, a bookstore’s women’s section, and go online to do a search of your own to learn more. • In addition, many colleges and universities have women’s studies sections online that have vast amounts of information about women who will inspire you with their stories.
Women’s History Month • The preface of one book said that capturing women’s history was important simply because the women were ordinary women who lived through extraordinary circumstances and we shouldn’t lose their perspective on the past. • Nor should we lose the lessons of courage, determination, ambition, a daring to be different, a daring to hold onto a dream and achieve it that these women and others like them can impart to us as we continue to make Women’s History every day.
We hope you enjoyed our presentation. This presentation is part of a 4 part series.Be sure to view all sections. Cyber Exhibit Federally Employed Women