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Minutes of the January 18, 2000 Commission Meeting

 

The seventh meeting of the Presidentís Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History was held at 9:00 A.M. on January 18, 2000 at the New York Public Library in New York City.

In accordance with Public Law 92-463 as amended, this meeting was open to the public and members of the public were present.

 

Commission Members Present

Ann Lewis, Co-Chair
Beth Newburger, Co-Chair and Federal Representative
Dr. Barbara Goldsmith
LaDonna Harris
Dr. Ellen Ochoa
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
Irene Wurtzel

In addition to members of the public in attendance, Martha Davis from the General Services Administration and Aprill Springfield from the White House staffed the meeting.

 

Call to Order

Ann Lewis called the meeting to order and introduced Paul LeClerk, the Director of the New York Public Library.

Opening Remarks

Mr. Paul LeClerc opened the meeting with the following statement:

I would like to extend a warm welcome on behalf of the Libraryís trustees and staff to the Commission and its guests. I believe itís very important that the Commission is meeting in this Library, as these are the places that tell the history of women. Susan Brownmiller, Johnnetta Cole, Commissioner Goldsmith and Marie Salerno have all been involved with the Library. Barbara Goldsmith for her pioneering work not only as a social historian, but as one of the key people in America who has championed the cause of the preservation of documents that permits all of us to learn our collective and individual histories. So, for those reasons and many others, I am glad you are here with us this morning.

Ann Lewis thanked Mr. LeClerk for all the work the Library has done over the years in making records and information available so the Commission can go diving into it and pull it back up and get it the attention it deserves. Thank you.

 

Beth Newburger delivered the following report on operations:


Since we last met the Commission has been hard at work. We have published the follow-up to the Commissionís report that was presented to the President last March. The follow-up, which is the How to Community Handbook, is available here for you today if you havenít seen it. It elaborates on the ten suggestions we made in the report to the President.

Weíre extremely pleased - I see Sally Kranz is here from the GFWC - that the General Federation of Womenís Clubs has adopted the Commissionís handbook at least in part to begin community projects to reflect the documentation and celebration of women in American history. So that is an outcome that we are very excited to report to you and are very enthusiastic about the project as the General Federation has undertaken it, and through our website, the registration of projects in communities across the country that are underway. So, we expect to see many projects that will document women in the local communities.

Another outcome of this Commission that we are pleased to talk about is represented by Dr. Allida Black, who is going to talk to us a little bit later. We are told by the National Archives that their interest and their funding of the preservation of Eleanor Rooseveltís papers in great part came about because of the work of this Commission. We raised the level of awareness that such documentation and preservation is certainly essential if we are going to meet the mission of making sure that womenís lives are included in the history of this country.

Coming up over the next several months as the Commission begins to conclude its work, is an event in March which will celebrate womenís history, which weíll hear about later this morning from Molly MacGregor and the National Womenís History Project. Of course, the Commission is pleased to be celebrating, since one of our recommendations was that we have a national celebration. We are pleased that Mollyís group has once again taken the lead and helped us see how that celebration can happen.

But we are hoping we will hear more of the ideas from all of you today so we can enrich those celebrations, and to make certain that we do call in every way we can to the attention of those in this country who are not yet aware that women have a place in the story of American lives. Of course, we also have with us Lynn Sherr, whose book has been a trailblazer for us as we create our next publication which is a womenís history trail publication for the city of Washington, DC.

Iíd like to add my welcome to Annís, and tell you that the Commission is working and well. Thank you very much.


Ann Lewis invited the Commissioners to introduce themselves, and then delivered the following report on the Commissionís work:

As youíve heard from Beth, weíve had a busy few months since the Commissionís last meeting on September 8, 1999 in Portland, Oregon. We went to Portland because the General Federation of Womenís Clubs was having their Board Meeting there. So we had both a commission meeting in a wonderful area of the Pacific Northwest, and one that is rich in womenís history, and also a chance to talk to members of the Federation Board.

Since that time, some of us were able to see Ellen Ochoa, our astronaut commissioner, present to the Sewall-Belmont House the National Womenís Party banner that she had taken with her on her mission. So we have a flag that flew outside the White House when women were picketing and asking for the vote, a flag whose possession, at one point, sent you to jail as I recall, now being held aloft by the three women of Ellenís shuttle mission. So we think once again, as we like to say, we are spanning the arc of history, or we are making it as we are recording it.

We had the pleasure of seeing on November 7th and 8th the Public Broadcasting System playing of Not for Ourselves Alone, the story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Lynn Sherr, who weíre going to hear from later, is among the experts who spoke in the course of that film. The response to that film continues to ripple and grow.

We have spent so much time at our Commission meeting, thinking, "how do we reach the popular culture," and perhaps the popular culture is getting to the idea that these are really wonderful, powerful stories.

On January 10, 2000 again on PBS a long film about Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the great women of our century, again raising a level of attention.

As youíve heard from Beth, we have some wonderful plans ahead for March. Because weíre in New York and because we are moving forward, I would add that June 5-9th will be the Special Session of the United Nations, officially titled Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development, and Peace, informally referred to as Beijing Plus Five. It is the fifth year anniversary of the UN Fourth World Conference on Women that was held in Beijing, China.

We believe that around these events there may be opportunities to tell the story of womenís history, perhaps in exhibits in our public buildings, perhaps in activities that we can invite people who come to New York to be a part of this conference and learn more about the history as they attend. So again, we look forward to these events as opportunities to tell our stories. But most of all we look forward to hearing from all of you about your ideas and your proposals for how we can continue the work we have done to help the history of women to come alive. How we can insure that from now on the history of our country as it is told will include the contributions, the achievements, the bravery of women who on their own and in partnership with men really built the country we are fortunate enough to live in today.

And now I would like to introduce a woman who is a familiar voice and face, and who we also know as a historian and a bit of a trailblazer, Lynn Sherr.

Lynn Sherr

Let me begin by saying that I am delighted this Commission actually exists, and to congratulate the Commission on the recommendations it made to the President. They are good, strong ideas, and I think they should all be put into effect, and I think they should be put into effect immediately.

I hope you will pardon my impatience, but as many of you know I have been at this issue for a very long time. When my co-author Jurate Kazickas and I published our first womenís calendar, that was a week by week guide to important dates in American womenís history, it was viewed at the time as radical, even revolutionary; however, it sold out. As did ten subsequent additions.

In 1976 we published our first book on landmarks in American history - then it was called the American Womenís Gazateer. And doing the research was an eye-opening exercise in ignorance. We would call a local historical society or a Chamber of Commerce, and we would ask about places commemorating women. And the answer would too often be something like: "Why would anyone want to know that?"

Some 1500 sites later we had a book: The First Feminist Travel Guide, and we realized we had struck a chord. Nearly twenty years later we identified some 500 additional landmarks, and we rewrote the book with a new title, Susan B. Anthony Slept Here.

Iím happy to report it is still in print, it is still selling nicely, it has also been turned into a prime time television special (available on VHS), and nothing makes me happier than to be told by someone I meet that she uses the book to take her daughter or her son on trips. That is what I think this is all about.

So, while in a way Iím very sorry that the Commission has to exist (it is after all the year 2000, arenít we beyond all this?) nonetheless, while Iím sorry that we still need to educate the public about our female heritage, I am glad to see our early work institutionalized, officially.

The premise of that book was simple: that the homes and the offices and the landmarks of the women who built our country are worth preserving, and worth visiting. Because the history of those women is so much better understood through those sites. It is one thing to read a womanís life story, it is quite another to see where she actually lived, or wrote, or invented, or rebelled. The spirit or power of place is a compelling force and often the critical factor in shaping an individual.

But there is more than place in American History - and I think there is one issue you have not suggested in your fine set of recommendations. It grew out of my later work, much of which, by the way, I researched here, my biography of Susan B. Anthony, Failure is Impossible. It is this. About a century ago a woman stood up at a suffrage meeting in Washington, DC, and she read a letter proposing that every February 15th, Susan B. Anthonyís birthday, should be celebrated throughout civilized lands as womenís day, with speeches, songs and other exercises to commemorate the betterment of women. In short, she said, "a grand womenís holiday." She also suggested that every woman in the land - white or black, rich or poor, no matter who or what she may be, then gratefully drop into her ward contribution box a dime or a nickel for the cause of woman. It being a privilege, she went on, to donate so small but so potent a sum for the onward progress of her sex.

It is a measure of Susan B. Anthonyís modesty that she herself immediately amended the proposal to suggest that the birthdays of all such pioneers be honored. It is an indication of her charisma that the letter writer was a Mormon from Utah, one of Brigham Youngís daughters who had become a close friend and an ardent admirer, even though her polygymous heritage was horrifying to Susan B. Anthony. And, it is a telling sign of the times, then and now, that the purpose of the proposal was to raise money for the eternally underfunded womenís movement, and that nothing was ever done about this suggestion.

Today, no American womanís birthday is celebrated as a national holiday. But as we approach the 180th anniversary of the birth of Susan B. Anthony, I humbly propose that her birthday ought to be.

You know who she was and what she did. And that we probably would not be sitting here today if it were not for the lifetime that she dedicated to getting us our rights. She was optimistic about our future, accurately predicting that women would not only vote, but that they would be in the U.S. Congress and on the Supreme Court. She also predicted that a woman would one day be President of the United States. That bold forecast came in 1905. She was right of course, of course we will have a woman president, Susan B. Anthony just didnít say when.

Anthony spoke out on everything, including football. She attended her first football game at the age of 78 in Chicago. And as always, she was accosted by reporters for her opinion. She was one of the most famous women in the world, and an interview with Susan B. Anthony could make a reporterís career. So after the game the reporters ran up to her, "Ms. Anthony, Ms. Anthony, what did you think?" Football widows everywhere will appreciate her impression. "Well there is no game to it, she said, at least I canít see any. They just take the ball and then fall down in heaps."

Susan B. Anthony was smart, funny, prescient, principled, caring and full of words of wisdom for us all. As a newspaper columnist wrote after her death in 1906, "her career illustrates again what a life devoted to a single idea can accomplish." How much of dynamics there is in actually knowing, not merely believing, that you are right. It is unimaginable to all of us that we could not vote just because we are women. It is unimaginable to me that anyone who understands what Anthony and her colleagues went through could ever stay home on an election day.

Gertrude Stein called her "the mother of us all." She was right. We simply would not have most of the rights we now take for granted if it were not for Susan B. Anthony. We would certainly not have a modern womenís movement.

During her lifetime her birthday was celebrated every year with increasingly larger and more public events. Senators, ambassadors, suffragists, all attended, and President Theodore Roosevelt sent his greetings to her last. I should point out that she said "itís very nice for him to send me birthday greetings, Iíd rather have the vote," thank you very much.

By the time she was in her eighties, suffrage organizers issued a calendar with photos and pithy sayings of Ms. Anthony. All, of course, to raise money for the cause. And on February 15th, right after Saint Valentineís Day, was the charming notation, "Saint Susanís Day."

We have not cannonized her yet, and there is no national holiday yet, but I hope that you will burn her birthdate into your brain, and that you will consider a formal effort to put her right up there with the great men who we already honor. So that next February 15th, and every other year to come, this entire nation might pause and simply say, "thank you." I think it is the least we can do, for the woman who bequethed to us those wisest words of all, "failure is impossible." Thank you.


Questions from the Commission:

Lynn Sherr: Itís quite astounding when you think about it: no American womenís birthday is celebrated as a national holiday.

Anna Roosevelt: Has a bill ever been written?

Lynn Sherr: I donít believe that a bill has ever been written. Weíve been talking about it for some time. Thereís a way to do this, and think of the good debate we would get. What would John McCain say, right? Could Arizona really not have this as a holiday? Thereís going to be argument about who it should be and whose birthday it should be, and Iím obviously so biased towards Susan B. Anthony. Iím very upset that sheís off the dollar coin even though it was a terrible coin. Iím very happy for Sacagawea that at least we have her there, that at least itís not some mythical woman on a pedestal at this point. We need a holiday.

Ann Lewis: Those of us who try each year to make a holiday of August 26th, the one week when it is the hardest to get a critical mass of people together for any purpose, appreciate that February 15th, besides being Susan B. Anthonyís birthday, would probably be a lot easier.

Lynn Sherr: We have the March 8th International Womenís Day which unfortunately has this whole communist/socialist root thing. So that hasnít really been picked up, although it does get celebrated. It came out of a different era. This holiday would be pure and very American.

The only thing that troubles me is that it would get identified with coat sales, you know, Susan B. Anthony coat sales. Washingtonís birthday coat sales. You could have a competition with schoolchildren Ė whose birthday should be celebrated. There could be essays on why this would be a great day to celebrate. I think it should be done.

Beth Newburger: Lynn, just from a matter of timing, and because we are so conscious about making every holiday that we celebrate come out on a Monday. Because there is a Presidentís holiday which was declared because of the proximity of the 12th and 22nd of February, would this one get lost in those, do you think?

Lynn Sherr: I would not have an objection to her being part of that, personally. On the other hand, maybe it doesnít need to be a school holiday or a day off. Maybe there is another level of it. I think you have to start high, though.

Beth Newburger: My own feeling is that you have to declare parity, and if you are going to take the day for the others, you have to take the day for this, but Iím wondering if there is another way to propose it. There are many businesses that say you can have either the MLK, Jr. or the Presidentís Day holiday, and maybe we could say or Susan B. Anthony.

Lynn Sherr: The idea that it starts a national discussion is to me half of the joy of this thing Ė get people out actually talking about it.

Ann Lewis: Letís see what we can do with the idea.

Ann Lewis then introduced Ms. Allida Black, Director of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, George Washington University Assistant Professor of History, Program Coordinator for the Women and Power Leadership Program, and author of three books about Eleanor Roosevelt.


Allida Black

Members of the Commission, when Ann Newhall spoke before you in Washington and I spoke before you in Atlanta, we urged you to support the creation of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers. You responded with a ringing endorsement in your report to the President and the First Lady. I am thrilled to announce that the National Historical Publications and Records Commission of the National Archives also has endorsed the ER papers and that The George Washington University is its most enthusiastic host. Although major funding is not yet received, lead gifts are in hand and document collection has begun. We are on our way.

Focusing on ERís role in defining human rights at home and abroad, the Eleanor Roosevelt and Human Rights Project will assemble ERís papers, interviews, and television appearances from archives and private collections around the world. We will organize, annotate and publish the most important pieces in five volumes, and will place a million pages of the material on the Internet for students, scholars, and human rights activists to consult. At the same time, we will partner with other organizations to develop human rights curricula for teachers of all levels. In addition, by placing student research assistants in summer internships with national and international human rights organizations, we will provide a unique opportunity to blend intellectual research on human rights with real world public service. In time, we hope the project will serve as a clearinghouse for anyone interested in the development of human rights and the struggle to develop democratic governments.

Eleanor Roosevelt was arguably the worldís most outspoken advocate for human rights and she left a voluminous written legacy. She wrote seventeen books, more than eight thousand columns, over four hundred articles, an average of 150 letters a day, and countless memoranda and speeches - all without a ghost writer. Her State Department human rights file fills 198 archival boxes. The records of her work as an American delegate to the United Nations, her frequent radio and television commentaries, and the documentation of the positions she advocated are scattered around the world.

These records are invaluable. They reveal the struggle to craft a viable Universal Declaration of Human Rights, protect civil rights and civil liberties, contain nuclear weaponry, assist the developing world, implement the Marshall Plan, recognize Israel, dismantle apartheid, promote widespread economic prosperity, and encourage womenís full political participation. They provide numerous powerful examples of human rights policies, debates, and implementation strategies essential to contemporary discussions on human rights and democratic policy.

Making these materials available is the first phase of producing a comprehensive documentary edition of ERís political writings. The latter two phases will focus on her New Deal and World War II efforts.

Our plans for sharing the material with educational and human rights communities have also attracted valuable partners. The New Deal Network, the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill, the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, and the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute are interested in developing models for use in secondary schools, in colleges and universities, and in civil organizations. We anticipate graduate fellows involved in the project to spend their summers working with such organizations as the Center for the Study of Violence at the University of Sao Paulo, UNIFEM, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The World YWCA has expressed a strong interest in housing fellows in Europe, Africa and Asia, and the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute is interested in using ER fellows as part of their democracy project in Moscow and Seoul. As 2002 is the 50th anniversary of ERís visit to India, we are also working with groups interested in convening a human rights conference in her honor in New Delhi.

Yet as we celebrate this beginning, we must remember that, like so much of womenís history, this project is propelled by academic expertise, passion, intense networking and the financial stability of a paper clip. We have done as much as we can with our own savings.

In October, Edie Mayo called for a Title IX for womenís history and I second her appeal today. The Commission has done an outstanding job in preserving and highlighting womenís historic sites. Now it needs to help preserve the ideas and concepts the sites symbolize. It needs to help preserve womenís voices and womenís visions in ways that move beyond the traditional image of women as emotional reactors to events and abandon the historical popular images of women of women as selfless servants of human kind. Compassion is only part of the story. In Eleanor Rooseveltís case, we must examine not only the shape of her heart but the scope of her mind.

This is painstaking and expensive work. But the return on investment is extraordinary ó at home and abroad. Last October, I spent a week in Brazil working with human rights activists using ERís writings as a way for further discussions about advancing the human rights agenda in that country. The eager response of those with whom I met made me even more convinced of the importance of her work for todayís world. Examples she used resounded with public defenders, prosecutors, teachers, students, feminists, and even the colonel of the military police of Puerto Alegre. They beseeched me to translate some of the articles into Portuguese so that they might use them in their classes and training institutes. Even the most outcast of Brazilians drew hope from ER ó as did a woman with whom I spoke in the favela, who could not name her president or recognize Mandela or King, but whose face lit up with the mention of Eleanor Roosevelt because she knew that ER wanted her to work for wages, have a safe house, and educate her children. There is no more clear example of womenís rights as human rights.

The day after the recent PBS documentary aired I received an email from a student I had not heard from in 10 years. ER helped us find a vocabulary to discuss race, hope and family trauma. Although he initially ran away from his potential, he emailed me to say that he had read more of ER and that now he was a community organizer in Harlem. These are two compelling reasons this project must go forward.

As we celebrate our past, let us commit ourselves to presenting it as accurately, as intelligently, and as accessibly as possible. We must preserve our written legacy with the same determination as we preserve our historic sites.

Raising money is hard work, even in prosperous times. Donors like to give money to buildings and public structures. It is much harder to fund less glitzy, less visible projects -- especially documentary editing projects.

While the Commission has no budget, it does have the power of persuasion. I strongly urge the Commission to use its forum to call for a Title IX in womenís history, to consider urging that a trust similar to the Millennium Trust for Historical Preservation be established to help preserve womenís writings and womenís voices; that a coordinated approach to private foundations and corporations be launched to help promote funding of womenís history; and, that a public relations campaign characterized by glitz and substance to encourage public awareness of these issues be initiated. Time demands that I end my remarks; however, I would be delighted to discuss this with you further at your convenience.


Questions from the Commission:

Beth Newburger: How big is the ER exhibit that you have?

Allida Black: It is nine panels that are four feet by five feet, and then there is a kiosk that we can put in. Iíll send you the specs on this.

Ann Lewis then introduced Sally Kranz, Director of Public Relations, General Federation of Womenís Clubs.


Sally Kranz

After Ann and Beth attended our September board meeting in Portland, Oregon, and we officially confirmed the partnership between GFWC and the Presidentís Commission, we published an article in our national magazineís October/November issue telling members about the Commission and suggesting project ideas.

We placed reminder notices in later issues - urging members to register their projects on the Commission Web Site and to keep us informed of activities.

In December we mailed the newly revised community handbook to all State Presidents and Junior Directors (about 85 in all) with a letter from President Scarbro urging them to talk about projects and plans at meetings and to use their state publications to spread the word.

Iíve also sent the guidebook to various columnists and reporters who I hope will use it as the basis for articles.

Although it takes a while for our states to report back to us, we have been hearing some good things:

  • The Arizona Federation is collecting material for a book about its work and accomplishments over the past 100 years and plans to publish a book.
  • A New Jersey club woman asked for my help in applying for a postage stamp to honor GFWC founder and journalist Jane Cunningham Croly. Although I know that is close to an impossible dream - Iím hardly in a position to say so - and I helped.
  • A club in North Carolina will sponsor the erection of an historical marker in honor of Lillian Clement, the first elected woman legislator in the South.
  • A club in Nevada is working with the Nevada Womenís History Project to research and publish the first-ever biographical encyclopedia of Nevadaís historic women.
  • In Wyoming, a club plans to honor a woman physician who helped its members obtain a dialysis machine for the community and another club plans to honor a woman who raised funds for a civic center.
  • In Vermont, the state federation will honor Madeline Cunin for her work as former Governor of the state and former Ambassador to Switzerland.
  • The California Federation is proposing to name a section of interstate 10 "The Dr. June McCarroll Freeway" in honor of the woman who came up with the idea of the white centerline stripe.
  • In South Dakota the state president was so excited to learn that the project she has been spearheading for years actually encompassed what the Commission is proposing, that her courage was boosted and she recently went to the media with her story. She got good coverage from her local paper about the Pioneer Daughters Collection which is outlined on Page 2 of the Handbook. Begun in 1934, the collection currently includes more than 6,000 histories. This state president recently wrote to tell me that because of the flurry of publicity about her project - more histories are coming in for the Pioneer Daughters Collection. So, in addition to everything else, she has learned a valuable PR lesson.
  • At headquarters we recently learned that Citizens Against Government Waste criticized on its website the appropriation of $550,000 that Congress made for restoring the Susan B. Anthony House. President Scarbro sent them a letter addressing their stance.

Womenís history and the history of women in volunteerism has always been of primary importance to the federation. Until now, however, I believe most of our clubs simply recognized the value of recording the past with care and concern - keeping records, learning about preservation methods and recording oral histories. They really didnít think of the effort put forth as something to boast about. But now, with this consciousness-raising from the Presidentís Commission, I would guess that they will not only be recording the past, but will start telling the world about the women they are learning about. Iím happy to say that I already see a broadening of horizons as they deal not only with honoring clubwomen but also with finding and honoring many outstanding women in their communities who have contributed so much to this nation.


Ann Lewis: Think about the South Dakota Club which years ago started collecting the oral histories of these women who had been pioneers, who had these incredible stories: if we want to talk about bravery and heroism, think what it was like to be a pioneer in the 1880s and 1890s in South Dakota. So itís just a wonderful, rich storehouse.

Irene Wurtzel: I wanted to say that I was lucky enough to be in Portland when your group met, and I thought the enthusiasm was palpable in that room. I wish you could have all been there because you could see how excited these women were from all over the United States, many of them from very small communities. Many of them did know who their leaders were, but they hadnít thought about a way to celebrate them, and by the time this meeting was finished, you could see people buzzing and talking about it and vowing to go back and do something about this.

Molly MacGregor: I just have a question about the South Dakota papers, have they been published?

Sally Kranz: Yes, they have been collected and they are published, and they are making something of it definitely.

Ann Lewis: But Molly may want to make more of it in her newsletter.

Sally Kranz: I can send Molly materials.

Ann Lewis then introduced Mr. Ronald Law, Associate Regional Administrator, General Services Administration in New York, African Burial Ground.


Mr. Ronald Law

Good morning and thank you.

Today I would like to distill onto a thumbnail sketch what would normally take about four hours to present about the African Burial Ground. I plan to propose some of the highlights and milestones that have transpired within the development and the progress of the project.

The African Burial Ground is a world class national historic asset. The discovery of the remains has sparked both national and international attention. Visitors have come from near and far to see the burial ground for themselves. It is the oldest excavated African American cemetery within a Northern American urban city. The African Burial Ground contains significant information regarding archeological, anthropological and historic research. Its very existence has generated much discussion and rethinking of the colonial history of New York City, in fact, of this nation. Foremost the discovery, or more accurately the rediscovery of the African Burial Ground if proof that slavery in this country was not just a Southern institution.

The presence of the first Africans in what is now known as New York City dates back to 1626 and the then Dutch colony settlement of New Amsterdam. Eleven Africans, and their names are known, were brought to the settlement by a Portuguese vessel to provide labor as farmers, as builders and for the fur trade. Throughout most of the 1700s, there was a substantial African presence in New Amsterdam. Available records indicate that in 1746 the Africans comprised almost 21% of the population.

The African Burial Ground is delineated in history as the Negro burying ground. The specific boundaries of this site for the grounds remain unknown. However, it is believed that burials took place between 1712 and 1794. The site at the northern part of the colony was one mile from the city limits and believed to encompass a five to six acre area of lower Manhattan, which includes the City Hall Park today. It is estimated that between 10-20,000 persons have been interned at that site.

In 1993 the U.S. Secretary of the Interior designated the African Burial Ground as a National Historic Landmark, and in the same year, the New York City Landmarks and Preservation Commission also designated the site as a common historic district.

The burial ground is one of the best preserved sites of interned African remains in the country. Approximately 427 skeletal remains were uncovered. Archeologists estimate that at least 200 more remain unearthed. Demographically, of 314 identified individuals, 89 are adult males, 73 are adult females, and 152 are sub-adults (less than 16 years of age). An analysis of all excavated burials have identified approximately 93% as individuals of African descent, while the remaining 7% were considered mixed or white. Among the 427 individuals recovered from the site, 401 individuals were buried in coffins, while 26 were not interned with coffins. Unfortunately, there are no known records that can provide the names of those individuals interred at the burial ground.

Between 1700 and 1774, approximately 6800 Africans were imported into New Amsterdam, about 2,800 coming directly from Africa, and 4,000 coming from the Caribbean and Southern colonies. It is estimated that 1/5 to ľ remained within the colony and were buried in the grounds.

As far as specific references to African women buried at the site, let me offer three examples. Burial plots 335 and 356 serve as the most poignant reminders of the plots to be unearthed. It is a woman, 35-40 years of age, and cradled in her right arm are the remains of an infant, suggesting that the death of both the mother and the child was during childbirth or shortly thereafter. Burial plot 281 is of an African mother whose incisor teeth were modified by filing and chipping into an hourglass. This practice, fairly widespread in West and Central Africa, was performed on individuals by rituals specialists, often to indicate membership in a secret society, or as a sign of passage into adulthood. In America, the practice does not seem to be carried on by succeeding generation of Africans, suggesting that the individuals found with this trait were born in Africa. Burial plot 340 is of an African woman, 25-30 years of age at the time of her death. She was wearing beads. Her teeth were also in the shape of an hourglass, cultural indications that this woman was also born on the continent of Africa.

Permit me to fast-forward to 1999, the year that the human remains were rediscovered, which would eventually lead to the General Services Administration becoming the custodian for the African Burial Ground. GSA began planning for a new office space in 1987. The proposed construction site was identified by GSAís archeological contractor as a place where the African Burial Ground once existed. However, GSA was advised that a low probability existed in discovering human remains on the site. Before GSA could begin construction, it had to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. This statute specifically stated that it had to be determined if this site merited inclusion in the National Registry for Historic Places. In essence, an agreement signed by GSA required it to conduct pre-construction archeological testing of the site. It was during this phase that the burial ground was discovered.

The African Burial Ground is a multi-disciplinary, scientific design involving complementary natural and social sciences. The goal of the research is to analyze all related materials and to accurately reconstruct, interpret and contextually understand the everyday lives of the first generations of Africans in New York City. The African Burial Grounds is comprised of three major components:

  1. Scientific Research

    • Cultural and geographical roots of individuals interned
    • Physical quality of life for Africans enslaved in New York City during the Colonial period
    • Which biological characteristics and cultural traditions remained unchanged and which were transformed during the creation of the African-American society and culture
    • What were the modes of resistance, and how were they used to resist oppression and to forge a new African-American culture.
  2. Office of Public Education and Interpretation
  3. The memorialization and the ongoing ceremony for reinternment

The scientific research hopes to answer questions like the African country of origin, the types of food eaten, the diseases experienced and why childhood mortality was so high.

The African-American community and the descendant community have insisted on having an active role in the process. In response to this, GSA created a Steering Committee to represent the interest of the community and to make recommendations to Congress and GSA regarding the present and future activities at the site. The Committee submitted a report in August of 1993.

In closing, I would like to reemphasize the importance and historic significance of the African Burial Ground, not only for the African-American community, but also for the nation as well as the worldwide community. Recently, signatures were created for an African American Burial Ground Stamp.

I will sum up the sentiment for the African Burial Ground with the last three verses of the spiritual Dry Bones: "Some of these bones are my motherís bones, come together to rise and shine, some of these bones are my fatherís bones, and some of these bones are mine. Some of these bones are my sisterís bones, come together to rise and shine, some of these bones are my brotherís bones, and some of these bones are mine. Some of these bones going to make me laugh when they gather together to rise and shine, some of these bones going to make me weap because some of these bones are mine."


Questions from the Commission:

Ann Lewis: We have talked often of the need to find the hidden women. I cannot think of a better example of the women whose lives we need to know more about than the women you are talking about.

Beth Newburger: Can you tell us where the educational center is, and where the burial ground actually is located?

Ron Law: The educational center is at 6 World Trade Center. The interpretive center will be build at 290 Broadway, and will overlook the site. This will be an opportunity for the people to understand the scientific research.

LaDonna Harris: Can you actually go the grounds?

Ron Law: No you canít. There are times when tours are conducted, and the Office of Public Education can provide information on this.

Ann Lewis then introduced Ms. Ellen Chesler, Senior fellow at The Open Society Institute, writer and historian.


Ms. Ellen Chesler

It is a great personal privilege and pleasure for me to be here today.

Some thirty-one years ago, but whoís counting, I graduated from Vassar College, just a bit north of here in Poughkeepsie. The following fall I enrolled in a graduate program at Columbia University. I was awarded a four year fellowship through the National Defense Education Act, and with that support I am proud to say that I became a charter member of one of the great intellectual revolutions of modern times, the revolution that created a rightful place for women in history - that claimed our agency as citizens - as workers - as wives and mothers and most important as individuals in our own right.

As all of you know, one could easily have claimed a degree in history back then without ever studying the place of women in our past. There is only one volume of womenís history I can remember studying as an undergraduate - Eleanor Flexnerís seminal - or should I say "ovular" work on suffrage - Century of Struggle.

Today, by contrast, there are some 30,000 womenís studies courses in this country - many of them cross-referenced in departments of history. And thousands upon thousands of books about women are published each year. The study of women has transformed the very way we think about women and about history - creating new constructs and understandings. Now we just donít study the suffrage movement, we interpret it and debate its many meanings and ramifications - with the force once given only to the endeavors of men. And, of course, the same is true for birth control and sexuality, and social welfare policy, and social justice and peace and feminism - the many valuable pursuits of women in history. Yet still the work of securing our past, so that we can build upon it for the present and future, is not fully accomplished, in the university, or in primary and secondary education.

So consider me old-fashioned, perhaps. You have already collected a very admirable and creative list of suggestions, all of which I heartily endorse - to preserve womenís archives and artifacts - to celebrate womenís heritage through exhibits and museums and historic markers and parks and yes, many more statues and films, etc. But, yes, quaint as it may sound I want to add to this important list several modest thoughts about encouraging more public support for good scholarship, so that many more books can be written about women. Books take time to research and write, and time takes money to support it. But it is good scholarship upon which all popular history and culture must ultimately rest.

What role might the government have in all of this?

Well, there is first the question of support for graduate students and young Ph.d.ís. As all of you may know, something of a crisis is occurring in American universities because of a shortage of job opportunities for young scholars in the humanities and social sciences. Historians, I believe, are only a few steps ahead of their colleagues in English departments in finding tenured job opportunities. There seem to be two qualified candidates for every position available at the college level. This is not a new phenomenon. I left the academy back in 1977 and pursued a career in government and the non-profit sector, because there werenít many secure, tenured opportunities for women scholars here in New York, where I wanted to live. Now I find myself called on to talk to graduate students all the time about opportunities beyond teaching. I have found countless opportunities for integrating scholarship about women into the contemporary public policy arena. But few structured opportunities for doing so really occur.

I was lucky in my ability to cross over and find work. I would like to see more post-docs for young scholars who want to make this transition. The Ford Foundation and other non-profit institutions are already looking into ways to support this kind of endeavor, but a government sponsored conference, with concrete recommendations and outcomes would be a great boost.

Second, I think we are a long way from where we need to be in encouraging young men and women who love history and are trained scholars to teach at the secondary and primary levels. Part of our celebration of women in history should, I think, privilege the great role women have traditionally played as educators. I would love to see this commission recommend a conference about or celebration of women as school teachers - one that would result in concrete recommendations about ways all levels of government - federal, state and local - might better encourage and support teaching as a profession - making it more competitive with other fields that are now open to women and men alike, and draw them away.

Finally, and perhaps most personally important to me, and to all of us sitting here in this venerable public institution in New York, I would like to recommend that the commission make the purchasing of more books about women by public libraries part of its recommendations. Bear with me for one more personal story. As some of you know, I published a biography of Margaret Sanger back in 1992. The book was the fruition of work I had originally done as a graduate student. It lay fallow for many years when I worked in city government, but I returned to it and had good fortune with it, I am happy to report. It was reviewed prominently and favorably in many places, both popular and scholarly. It won a prestigious award from PEN, the international writers society. It was identified as one of the 20 best books of the year by the American Library Association - so imagine my surprise when I discovered from the publisher, Simon & Schuster, that only 500 library purchases of the hardback could be accounted for. What was wrong, I asked, only to discover that library budgets have declined dramatically in recent years, while more and more books are being published - and competition for budgets also comes from films and CD-roms and all the new media.

What could be more worthy of some form of public subsidy - perhaps in partnership with private philanthropy, than our libraries.

Forthcoming from The Authorís Guild, as a result of a grant made by the Open Society Institute, will be a series of recommendations for the support of mid-list titles from commercial publishing firms - titles that now languish, often, because the traditional bases of support for these sort of books - including libraries - is eroding. I donít want to get too specific here - but we will be sponsoring a symposium next month that will consider a number of options - ranging form more underwriting of libraries to support for the old-fashioned book tours and lecture series that used to be underwritten by publishing houses for all authors, but no longer fit into todayís profit margins. I assure you that female authors of books about women, with rare exception, especially need this sort of support. And we need to hear their voices on talk radio and television and in libraries and other public places where people gather.

It can no longer be said as Thomas Carlyle once famously observed that "universal history is the history of what man has accomplished in this world - at bottom, the history of the Great Men who have worked here." But if womenís "force" in history, not just our place but our force, as Mary Beard, the first prominent historian of women put it a half a century ago - then commissions such as this very distinguished one must in the end find ways to engender more public and private support for great scholarship and great books.


Questions from the Commission:

Ann Lewis: You talk about mid-list books. What sort of books are those?

Ellen Chesler: Those are the sort of books that people like I write, not people like Susan Brownmiller. Books that arenít going to be bestsellers, but books that are going to sell 25,000-50,000 copies max.

Ann Lewis then introduced Ms. Brownmiller, Author of Against Our Will, and her recent book, In Our Time.


Ms. Susan Brownmiller

Thank you for inviting me to offer my suggestions on the most effective ways to commemorate the achievements of American women.

As I donít have to remind you, the history of women is a story of militant, unladylike struggle, led by blunt, intemperate visionaries, against an entrenched male establishment, secure in its privileges, that would deny us equal opportunity and an equal, public role in the affairs of the nation. And, as I donít have to remind you, this Commission exists because the positive force of militant women, glorious to behold when it happens, is buried with astonishing speed by later generations who do not like reminders of the ongoing need for such militant, unladylike, movements and struggles.

I was fortunate to be able to play a role in the remarkable Womenís Liberation Movement of the 1960s and seventies. I am distressed that a mere thirty years later, the history of that struggle has been discounted and neglected, or treated as a curious, somewhat embarrassing manifestation of unstable times. It is true that the brave, new, unladylike issues we forced into the public consciousness - abortion, rape, battery, sexual harassment, incest, and the sexual abuse of children - are not the usual stuff of history books and museum exhibitions. Equal pay for equal work and the entry of women into the political arena and fields of employment that were formerly off-limits are easy to commemorate, but those battles are only a small part of the ongoing womenís struggle. The sex and violence issues are indeed more difficult to valorize and commemorate, but they lie at the heart of womenís continuing oppression, in my opinion.

If this Commission is to do more than ossify and calcify the safe achievements - the first woman this, and the first woman that - it must find a way to honor the core of the struggle.


Questions from the Commission:

Irene Wurtzel: What ideas would you put forth for your last suggestion?

Susan Brownmiller: I have been thinking about it. I started thinking about it when a reporter asked me about the womenís museum in Texas, that a lot of very good Texas women are involved with, and I asked him, really for personal interest, "well, how are they treating issues like rape?" And the answer I got was, "well, your book would be in there in a section on women writers, you see." I donít think that is good enough. I think that rape as an issue has to be tackled head on in the form of exhibits. We know it is controversial today, and that you as a commission, as a government commission, would probably have trouble from right-wingers who donít want you to even mention that dread word. But, it would seem to me that a logical progression in history would be to go from Margaret Sanger, the work that Ellen Chesler did, to the more modern movement, culminating in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision.

Irene Wurtzel: Besides exhibits, is there another way?

Susan Brownmiller: What do you mean besides exhibits? Because there are oral histories, there are films, there should be more oral histories before the participants in the Womenís Liberation Movement from the 60s and 70s are dead. And noone is supporting the oral histories of this movement. When I wrote my latest book In Our Time, I had to create my own archives of oral histories, because nobody had interviewed any of these women activists. I now do have 200 tapes that are already being sought after by libraries. I feel that it is too soon for me to give them up, but the thing is that there was no archive I could go to at Columbia, which has oral histories for all sorts of things, I couldnít go there for research, I had to create my own research. Bellaís has been taped, but none of the militants have been taped. And I donít think itís a deliberate slight against us, I just donít think thereís much money, and there never is much money for womenís projects, unfortunately.

I will say to you, and this may be controversial, that the New York Public Library now has been developing a great archival collection in gay and lesbian history, because there are gay men who are rich who have money and who are preserving their history. This library does not collect feminist history, does not collect the history of the feminist movement, because where are the rich feminists who would be contributing? This has always been the problem of women, we donít have the money.

Elizabeth Sackler: I want to thank you for your assertiveness, because one of the things Iíve discovered is the shyness and odd response to the word feminist. And there seems to be not only this backlash, but a real fear of this, and all of the things that you are speaking to I have seen. The notion that there was a militancy was rebutted. Why?

Susan Brownmiller: We donít want constant reminders of the struggle for equality. I hesitated when I prepared my remarks, but I did put in "male oppression" and "feminist struggle." We wouldnít need a commission on the history of women if we werenít documenting a struggle. But in non-militant times, people donít want to hear about the struggle, and they want to have good relations with men, so there is always that tension. Itís a very interesting dynamic.

Ann Lewis: When Ellen Chesler talked earlier about how few libraries had bought her book, and you commented on it, I thought both of you were going to say it was because of the subject matter. And I wonder to what extent both of you would think that may have had something to do with it - the fact that it was about sexuality.

Susan Brownmiller: I had a similar experience to Ellenís, and I learned about it only from reports from friends of mine at several august institutions - they did not think to buy a copy of Against Our Will. And then various librarians would be calling the Strand for discounted copies of my book, because their budgets were so small that they couldnít justify paying the full price for Against Our Will. In every case there is a decision-making process, and all too often, particularly at the higher institutes of learning, where the librarians are still primarily men, there would probably be an automatic decision against the purchase and the acquisition of womenís history books.

Barbara Goldsmith: I am a trustee of the New York Public Library, and I donít know if you know that in June this Commission is planning to mount an exhibit here on womenís issues. Iíve always found that New York Public is in the forefront of womenís studies. And when you talk about your books not being bought and purchased, I think this is endemic to mid-list writers of both sexes. I think mid-list writers now are having perhaps the hardest time theyíve ever had. And I think we have to be extremely careful to differentiate between what is an issue of sex and what is a publishing problem that we really have to work on.

Susan Brownmiller: Youíre raising a commercial problem in the marketplace today. Against Our Will was not considered a mid-list book, and it did indeed become a bestseller. The question that was raised here was the question of library acquisitions, and thatís where the books last. Itís true that the sex books tend to be stolen from the libraries. There is a tremendous amount of theft in every library, and particularly of the books that are considered the so-called sex books.

Barbara Goldsmith: They steal uninteresting material, too.

Susan Brownmiller: But I do disagree with you about New York Public being in the forefront of the collections of women's history. I would say that today itís Schlesinger, the Sophia Smith Collection and now Duke. I know that the gay and lesbian archives are thriving because of the private contributions of rich donors, and I know that this library has done nothing to collect womenís history for lack of funds. Oh, you donít want to believe that.

Barbara Goldsmith: I know itís not true. I also wrote my book, Other Powers, from here, and I had a great opportunity to see the womenís history materials at this library, and they are copious. But weíll continue this dialogue later.

Ann Lewis called on the Commission to take a 10-minute break.

Ann Lewis called the Commission back to order, then introduced Ms. Domna Stanton, Professor, Womenís Studies, University of Michigan.


Ms. Domna Stanton

I am very pleased to be part of the commissionís deliberations today, and want to congratulate its members on the extraordinary work you have been doing since 1998 to highlight the roles and achievements of American women. In the few minutes I have today, I want to emphasize the importance of specific aspects of your work, outlined in the recommendations you made in your March 1999 report, and suggest several others that I believe should be considered as you move forward.

I am heartened by your emphasis on diversity, a concept that goes beyond racial difference, to include all forms of hyphenated identity that we find in the history of this country, as well as religious, ethnic, and sexual otherness, and finally, and so often overlooked or silenced in the media, economic disparities, specifically class differences. Without ignoring those differences - and the conflicts that devolve from them - I believe that we also need to examine alliances, coalitions and affiliations across the divides as a guide to the present and the future of women. I am in fact proposing a shift from atomistic identity to collectivity, from "me" to "we".

I want to endorse your emphasis on the local, rather than the national - the concrete, daily work of women in their communities, which your how-to-community handbook exemplifies. So doing, local institutions can be encouraged to explore, to make visible womenís political, economic and cultural contributions - the diaries they wrote at night, the images they drew, the music they made, the paid and unpaid labor they did - by combating and overcoming forms of restraint, lack of access to expressions and action, and above all, self-censorship - a set of concepts that I consider part and parcel or what I call gender-based censorship.

Your emphasis on history is critical, in an era in which so many forces conspire to produce amnesia in young and old alike, and to keep us fixated on the last fifteen minutes. This is detrimental to all identities, but especially to those who have been silenced, and who have to struggle over and over again to be heard. By becoming conscious of the achievements, the struggles and the failures of the past, individuals gain a sense of realistic possibility about their present and future. While this is important for all women, it is especially critical for young women, those thirteen year oldís whom Carol Gilligan has shown lose their sense of capacity, their capacious goals and ambitions.

As you write in your report - and my experience in the womenís studies classroom confirms this - we are doing an ever better job of giving college women an understanding of who American women have and have not been able to be and thus who they can aspire to become. But I would urge you to heighten your efforts to bring womenís history into the high school and the middle school. We need to give teenage girls opportunities for contact with college women as mentors, and for doing research in womenís history in their schools and communities. Indeed, we should find the resources to establish a national summer research program for girls in womenís history - for doing oral histories, for example, or for editing diaries from the archives of local libraries.

Such a project presupposes that we create links between middle schools and the research university, between the academic community that is doing the research in womenís history, or more generally in womenís studies, and the historical sites, the state museums, the local reading groups. There is a serious disconnection between the work that is going on in the research institutes on women and gender across this country and the information or dis-information about US women in the media. We need to bridge that chasm - to make the research available to the public at large, the young in particular.

While your emphasis on the past is essential, we should remember that history is always in the making. We need to be concerned about the ways in which womenís roles are represented in our media saturated world - think about the radically different representations of a welfare mother with many children and the woman on fertility drugs who gives birth to sextuplets - and the ways in which womenís achievements continues to be trivialized or ignored in the ongoing backlash against feminism. We must promote programs for women - but especially for young women - that encourage critical thinking about what they see and hear every day if we want to provide the context for them to become the women that we hope they can become. This also means, I believe, that your work should emphasize the possibilities of the future, inviting women in their local communities and in their schools to imagine the roles they can play in their world, the difference they can make in the lives of all women and thus all men.

You have set before yourselves an inspiring task - one that does not only aim to make visible the extraordinarily complex and diverse roles of women in this country, but that also shows that the right to self-determination of women is a basic human right, indeed, that since the end of the second world war, the rightly heralded international human rights movement has been most effectively dramatized by the womenís rights movement, and conversely that womenís rights are, in the most profound sense, human rights.

Of course we have a very, very long way to go. To make this commissionís impressive goals a reality throughout the patchwork that is the United States will require more than hard work: it will require resources: resources for a national museum of womenís history, resources for publishing diaries with the help of the NEH, resources for museum exhibits sponsored by the NEA, and even resources for a national summer research program for teenage girls. I urge you to request - yes, demand - the resources that you need, and moreover, to make sure that the work you have stimulated and supported does not end with the end of the commissionís term in December 2000. For all of your work to date and its impact in the future will be part of the legacy that shows what United States women can accomplish when they put their minds and hearts and energies together.

*For information on gender based censorship program that I am directing at the University of Michigan, please contact the Universityís Institute for Research on Women and Gender.


Questions from the Commission:

Ann Lewis: You referred earlier, you used the intriguing phrase "self-censorship," and you said we might question you about it, so Iím taking you up on it.

Domna Stanton: Let me say this is part of a four-year program Iíve gotten funding for on what I call gender-based censorship. What it examines is in fact the differentials in the way in which men and women experience a kind of lack of restraint to certain kinds of information. For women, for example, dis-information or lack of information about reproductive rights would be a good example. Or lack of access to certain technology. There is a certain differential which women and men have access to technology in our society. Now, this has to be obviously crisscrossed by class and racial differences, and how those intersections work. But I think ultimately that lack of access, and that restraint, manifests themselves in forms of self-censorship. And, I think those are the kinds of things that we also need to look at.

Now, curiously of course, in this lens of censorship, and using the idea of censorship, is a way of actually expanding a concept which goes beyond merely the notion of state sponsored censorship, to look at the ways in which forms of censorship permeate an entire society. And, I think itís a very useful way to revisit anew the ways in which women have suffered forms of oppression in our society through this particular lens.

Ann Lewis asked all speakers who have prepared texts to give copies to Aprill Springfield, and then introduced Ms. Trudy Mason, member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Advisors of the National Museum of Womenís History and on the Commission on Womenís Equality of the American Jewish Congress.


Ms. Trudy L. Mason

I did have a prepared text, but I donít want to be redundant with a number of the speakers who have preceded me, so Iím going to speak rather extemporaneously at this point. And I want to thank you for inviting me to come and speak before this commission. Weíve already had two speakers at previous meetings of the commission from the National Museum of Womenís History, but I think this is an opportunity to update you and the commissioners on what the National Museum of Womenís History is and where it stands right now.

To get started, I want to just read for the record what you said about the National Museum of Womenís History in your report. You talk about one of your recommendations which is designating Washington, DC womenís history sites, and then you talk about another approach that is offered by the National Museum of Womenís History, whose mission is to preserve, display and celebrate the rich, diverse heritage of women, and bring it into the cultural mainstream. Although it does not yet have a permanent facility, the museum has already begun to implement its mission by leading the move to bring the womenís suffrage statue into the Capitol Rotunda.

The museum has also launched a virtual museum in cyberspace with an exhibit on the suffrage movement. And, thatís what I really want to speak about, because that, as Iíve listened to the other testimony, is the one thing that we havenít talked about yet. Weíve talked about exhibits, weíve talked about scholarship, weíve talked about courses, but nobody has really talked about the new media and how - as we celebrate womenís history, and as we look into the Millennium, what we are going to do with the web, with the new media - to interest young people in the study of womenís history.

I know now- the recent controversy over the placement in the capital rotunda of a sculpture of women's rights pioneers reflects a lack of focus about the importance of women's history. The state mandates to teach women's history, at least in Illinois, are under-funded and therefore lack the impact they might otherwise have. The multiple resources that everyone here has mentioned- the local research projects, the Internet catalogues, the curriculum guides are fragmented and scattered. Projects of all kinds constantly struggle for funding from the public and private sectors.

Our web site, which by the way for the record is nmwh.org, has a virtual museum. We did not wait, because itís going to be a long wait, until we have the money for the bricks and mortar. Until you have money for bricks and mortar, or even to put together a lot of exhibits, or scholarships, or, as was noted by other people, having books published and having them bought by libraries, and so whatever money we did get we put into launching this virtual museum.

The number of hits has been astronomical. I think that that is something that this commission should look into further. The idea of utilizing the World Wide Web, cyberspace, if you will, and in that way getting the new media involved with the study of old history. Because, as we know, history is ever evolving, and the history of the future is electronic, is the new media.

I should say that I have come to this rather late. I too, as was Ellen Chesler, was a history major. I graduated from Wheaton College, which until it made a terrible mistake and went co-ed, was the oldest womenís college in New England. And many of us are continuing womenís history studies and assuring that Wheaton continues itís mandate of advancing the cause of womenís history. The idea of using the web or using a computer was totally foreign, well now I have learned to use it, and learned that that is the best way if you want to get to "Generation X."

I was very happy to hear Ann speak about what is going to be done for Beijing Plus Five. I was honored to be part of that unbelievable experience of being in Beijing. I was representing the American Jewish Congress in Beijing, and am now honored to be their UN representative. So I was very excited to hear you talk about what the UN is doing. And, Beijing was the first time I really saw the implications of using the new media, and we have gone light years in the five years since Beijing.

We have an opportunity, both with the upcoming five year celebration and with the other communications that are going on, to use this as a launching for a cybermuseum, a cyberexhibit and what I also call a living history.

Now I should talk about what the National Museum of Womenís History is doing in terms of womenís history, without having a brick and mortar museum. One of the things that we do is that we give out the Women Making History Awards. And this year we traveled to Arizona to give these awards to the five top elected officials of the state of Arizona, all of whom happen to be women. And, again, the old media did not take note of this. The new media did. When I say the old media it is very difficult to break in with any information about womenís history. Lynn Sherr, who was the master of ceremonies made note of this, and she made note of this this morning.

I would say that the other thing we are trying to do is that we helped raise the statue of the women suffragettes into the Capitol. Before that it was vanquished in the basement. We are now trying to get a Sojourner Truth statue into the Capitolís Statuary Hall.

We are also holding a series of Congressional lunch programs for members of Congress and their staffs, where we will have people talking about the unknown stories, because so much womenís history is unknown. Weíre going to be talking about women who created grassroots politics, what you didnít know about women leaders of the civil rights movement, about women aviators, about women on the threshold of women and technology.

Ellen Ochoa, who is on the board of advisors of the National Museum of Womenís History, took a little piece of history with her and created history. She took along a limited edition NMWH medallion on her third trip into space. And so we took womenís history into space, it came back, and the medallion is now residing in the offices of the NMWH and noted in our cybermuseum.

Ann Lewis then introduced Ms. Marie Salerno, President, New York City 100; Former Vice-President of the New York Public Library.


Ms. Marie Salerno

I had prepared remarks today, but I am not going to talk from my notes. The one thing I thought while listening to everyone here is that there are great commonalities between the celebrations for the centennial of the New York Public Library, a celebration that I was responsible for and for the celebration of the city of New York. There are certain elements that I feel that those celebrations certainly were measures of how one can create something and make a difference, and I think that we did.

In the city of New York, the one thing that we did do that I donít see in your handbook, is that I think we should be much bolder about the sorts of things that we could ask the business community, and I donít mean funding. The one thing that we did do for the New York Centennial, is we secured two million dollars in free media advertising and support for the programs that we created in the city. Two hundred institutions came together very much like the individuals in this room are coming together to create programming, and every step of the way we received yeses from publications to give us ads. I have a couple of show and tells here just to show you. The New York Times gave us probably half of that advertising. The New York Times felt strongly that the Centennial of this city and its history should be heralded. After all, when we read the Times today, we are reading about history because weíre reading yesterdayís news. They gave us full page ads that allowed us to take every single one of the programs that were being created by museums, by libraries, by historical societies, by universities, by colleges, and place them in ads so we could herald what they were doing. The Times did this a series of times for us as well as the Daily News and Time Out. We also went to New York One, the cable television station here, and they created PSAís for the different kinds of things we were doing as well.

I feel like Iíve come full circle. The first job I had in this city was launching a magazine. That magazine at that time was called Ms., and it took a while for everyone to get used to the words Ms. Gloria Steinem was my first boss, and I learned very well how to take the germ of an idea and to create it into something that could be larger than any of us could ever imagine, such as the city of New Yorkís and the Libraryís Centennial.


Questions from the Commission:

Ann Lewis: I think the ideas of getting help from major media publications is a good one, and we can probably learn from you.

Barbara Goldsmith: Marie, I hope we can rely on you for your list of contacts.

Marie Salerno: Amazingly, they said yes. The deal that we cut with media sponsors is as follows: That if they were going to use our contact to sell advertising against it, and the Daily News did, then we were to receive 20% of the proceeds. So, this little venture that we embarked on turned out to bring in earned income that we could apply against the Centennialís costs. In addition, we also reached out to commercial ventures. We also decided to do a Pop-Up Book of the city of New York, that I collaborated with Arthur Gelb, who is the President of the Times Foundation, and the former managing editor of the Times. Mr. Gelb is in his seventies, he doesnít normally do pop-up books, but in any event, the royalties from this particular product will come back to New York City 100, and those proceeds will go into creating specific historic educational projects for the city schools. This year, with the funds we received from some of our media sponsors and funders, we created a teacherís manual on immigration, the first one in the New York City Public School system.

Beth Newburger: The project sounds like it is going to go beyond the Centennial celebration. Is that part of the draw for your partners in this venture?

Marie Salerno: We began as a one-year celebration. The Centennialís concept was created by Betsy Gottbaum, who is President of the New York Historical Society, and Rick Burns. Rick is the documentarian who just completed the 10-hour documentary on the city of New York. In year two we received a grant from the Chase Manhattan Bank. In addition, we received an advance from Rizzoli to do this Pop-Up book, and so we were able to continue it for two years. I would love to continue it forever, but the rigors of doing fundraising are exhausting. We are doing another pop-up book, weíre doing a junior addition of the one we did do, with the funds coming back into the school system, and the immigration teacherís manual is being introduced as well.

Barbara Goldsmith: How much money was made off of the pop-up book?

Marie Salerno: We donít know yet, weíre about to go back on press. We do understand that there was a 74% sell-through in terms of Barnes and Noble, which is really good. We didnít quite anticipate that this would happen. I did send Ann Lewis a book, and suggested that we do one for womenís history, with the proceeds coming back to whatever it is that you choose. I would certainly stand ready to help you in a pro-bono way secure media sponsorship, Barbara, I would love to do that.

Barbara Goldsmith: Having spent so much time at New York Public, how about a second opinion on where we stand on women and womenís history?

Marie Salerno: You know, I was responsible for the earned income activities at this Library, and we published a book that everyone thought was a horrible idea, except for me, at the time. I suggested that they do a book listing the top books of the century. And everyone thought that that was just such a silly idea. In turn, we did do it, and it did become a bestselling book, and Susan Brownmillerís book is listed there. We were criticized by a good many individuals at the time because we left out writers like John Steinbeck. So I just want to leave it like that, and I did feel that we tried at the Library in terms of womenís studies to do an enormous amount.

You are right about the gay and lesbian studies. Iím proud to say that we were the first library to do an exhibition on Stonewall, and I feel that made an enormous difference. Because there were people sitting in this Trustees Room that I never thought we ever would have seen. And, I think that there were great strides made. I think that the wonderful part about this New York Public Library is that this President and these Trustees really do stand ready to take any new challenges and to do whatever is necessary to expand and build on the collections. I found that in my four years working here, that I was never denied anything here, in terms of whatever the ideas were as Barbara will attest to.

Ann Lewis then introduced Ms. Lynn Rollins, Executive Director of the Governorís Commission Honoring the Achievements of Women.


Ms. Lynn Rollins

Our commission was created just for the sesquicentennial year, but we were very lucky, we were funded by the Governor. There were 53 people on the commission, and basically I was the Executive Director, and they said, "here is New York State, go play." The 53 people on the commission would give me ideas, and I would get them okíd. The only thing I got turned down on - I wanted to find out what the upper limit was - so, I said "Governor, could we rename the Triborough Bridge," and he said, "for whom?" And I said, "what about three women?" I thought that was a good idea, and they said go do other things.

So I wanted to tell you about several things we did and several things we are going to continue to do, because we have a Governor who happens to be a history buff. And, we got such a good economic response from all this, that we are going to continue doing some things. Let me just tell you a couple of things we did.

We did a website, nyforwomen.org, which we turned over to the Department of Education at the end of the year. We underwrote the video of the reenactment of the first womenís rights convention which they did at Celebrate í98, and we sent 750 of those to the schools. Roz Abrams went up to Seneca Falls and interviewed children, and then on Channel 7 did some spots on her programs. Kathy Novack, whoís at Channel 13, ran 5 one minute spots all summer and fall on five different women who were involved in the suffrage movement. We sent Elizabeth Perry and Frederick Mozell who do Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglas around to the SUNY campuses to do performances for them. When the Governor gave his arts awards, we honored three women in special awards: Judith Jamison, Tanya Leone and Beverly Sills. It was really fabulous. These women had never gotten arts awards before. We also did Women Run New York, where we did a relay race from Buffalo to Battery Park City (we did not run the whole way), and we put the closing ceremonies on the web.

And one of the projects we did was New Historic Markers, we asked all the county historians - interestingly enough most of whom are men - to nominate three women for a new historic marker, and to put up new historic markers. We actually did one for Eleanor Roosevelt. I admit I chose the colors, they were suffrage purple and gold, and I got a call from an Upstate county historian wanting to know if I thought the colors would fade. I get calls from all around because the women were local women, and what they did was really amazing to me, and the counties are proud. There are 62 counties, we put up 49 new historic markers. It was really great, and it is not expensive. And I get calls now from people saying we want to put up another historic marker.

The Governor gave a statue to Seneca Falls of Amelia Bloomer introducing Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, which we dedicated in October, which was a wonderful statue. I have copies of all of the things I am about to tell you about.

We did a map called Where Women Made History. We worked with the I Love New York Tourism Centers. We printed 400,000 of these maps, and they distributed them. They are beautiful, we have them in heavier duty limited editions if you want one, but more, it talked about which womenís historic sites were open to the public, so it became a tourism vehicle. We will continue to print these, not only are they beautiful, but they are going. Itís a vehicle you can use to say itís self-sufficient. Actually, Barbara Irvine used our map when she went to the New Jersey State Legislature and got $70,000 to do their trail that they are about to do.

Thereís a $10 million bond issue that the Governor is sponsoring, part of which will be used to restore Womenís Historic Sites. We also did a book called The Legacy of New York Women. We are not historians, please be gentle if you all look at this book. The county historians said to us, "arenít you going to do a booklet about the historic markers that you did?" So, Kit and Megan who are in the back worked on this, and we put together a book and printed 10,000 copies, and we continue to distribute this to anyone who actually wants one. Itís been a lot of fun.

We did a commemorative poster, and distributed them to all of the schools. They have found their way into other places, and they are beautiful. We also have a campaign to write to all the other governors in the United States telling them of the projects we did, and its economic impact.

There are lots of things that you can do - the historic markers thing - which started at the county level, and is not an expensive project. The counties got their own workmen to put the markers up, and the markers were around $500 apiece. Tourism did the map for us, and I am sure that all of the other states have tourism departments. If you can hook into being economically self-sufficient, if you can let the states know that this is an economically self-sufficient project, you just need funding for it, you really can go a long way. The Governor is on a roll, so goodness knows what else he might come up with.

Itís been a lot of fun, and I went to a womenís college, and I was, as Ken Burns said, "humiliated by how little I knew," and so it has been fun for me. The young women I have had working for me are very interested in their history. They do shy away a little bit from the word feminism, but they expect what all of those feminists fought for, they expect to get that. We havenít failed, they are just looking at it in different terms, they do want to know their history.

The historic markers we did, these women were all local, and yet, everything they did was fascinating. They all stepped outside the box, some of them were forced to because their husbands became incapacitated, some of them just did it because they had the will to do it. But I have said to the women I have worked with, that when I was in fourth grade, if I had known what some of these women had done, it would have been very inspirational to me. So, thank you very much. We do have books, posters and maps for everyone.


Questions from the Commission:

Ann Lewis: This is a marvelous example of what you can do. And donít give up on the Triborough Bridge, at the rate youíre going, I expect you to come back with that.

Trudy Mason: I promised Barbara Irvine that I would tell this Commission, because she couldnít come and testify today, about the need for having historic sites. And while New York has done it, New Jersey has so far not done it, so she has asked that this commission recommend historic sites nationally as part of this living history.

Beth Newburger: Your commission went out of business after you celebrated your sesquicentennial year, and Iím curious - we heard in Atlanta that there is an ongoing commission on womenís history in the state of Georgia - and one of the things that we talk about in our recommendations is to establish these commissions so that they can continue the work. Has the Governor, since he is a history buff, thought about making this a permanent part of his Administration?

Lynn Rollins: You know, we are working on all kinds of things that we are not quite ready to talk about, but he is definitely caught up in it. We had a lot of ideas, and we got a lot done, and we involved people on the local level and on the top level in doing it. I think he was really impressed by the fact that we went out and did all of these things, and that people really responded. I got a call from the Parks Department the other day, and he said that the local counties are so proud that they have a historic marker for women. Men come up to me and say, "my grandmother marched." And so itís really interesting how, when all the sudden, it becomes an exciting thing to say. The state was mine, I had to learn to ask for anything I wanted, and it was a lot of fun.

Ann Lewis: And you did wonderful work with it. I must say I think all of us would like to have that experience at least once, and we may recommend that every woman gets a chance to be told "the state is yours." Youíve really done great things with it, and we thank you. Iím so glad to know youíre sending these to other governors.

Ann Lewis then introduced Ms. Deborah Sale, Executive Vice President for External Affairs at the Hospital for Special Surgery.


Ms. Deborah Sale

I am at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and one of the things that we say about the hospital for special surgery - the Hospital for Special Surgery is the oldest orthopedic and rheumatological center in the country, and we deal with diseases of the muscular-skeletal system - and we often say of ourselves that we are an institution that serves postmenopausal women. So, it is sort of a womenís mission, even though it is somewhat under wraps, but I didnít actually come here today to talk about the hospital at all. In fact, seeing the list of those who are speaking today, I thought I should come up with just a list of fairly simple ideas.

Knowing that Marie Salerno was going to speak, and she is the epitomy of celebrations in America, and knowing that Ellen Chesler and Barbara and Susan Brownmiller were all here, who essentially wrote the book on womenís history, I felt that I should stay focused on a couple of more narrow areas.

One of the things that I thought I would propose that we might consider, is the sponsorship of the initiation of a series of science fairs across the nation. The Department of Education could be the sponsor, and those science fairs would really focus on the scientific discoveries made by women in America. Itís really quite an exciting world, and basically if you were a young person, and your mission was to take a look at what a woman had discovered in science or medicine of real extraordinary achievement (which, frankly, I was taking a look at some of these women, and the exciting thing to me if you were a young woman, and you looked at Roger Arlener Young now, it may sound like a guy, but this is a woman who was born in 1903, and took her degree from the University of Chicago to Woods Hole, and really was the first African-American woman ever to produce scholarly work, and to produce real results of a scientific nature that have moved on beyond her, as science does, to inform those of us who are living today, and those still working in the field of science. She was also the first woman ever to achieve a Ph.D. in Zoology. She received that from the University of Pennsylvania. And this was a woman who really was extraordinary for her time) if you were a young girl in high school, and your assignment was to find a woman whose scientific discoveries you could either recreate yourself for a science fair, and explain her history. Or, you could take her discoveries as a jumping off point for new discoveries of your own, or a new presentation of your own, I think that would be a very exciting experience for a young woman. I think that there should be two features of this: there should be the description and history of this woman alongside her scientific discoveries so that you would have a dual way of learning. I think that the Department of Education could sponsor this either through their science education departments or through the history of science.

Itís interesting, Iím also on the State Humanities Council, and one of the things that we have realized is that teachers love to have a peg from which to work. We sponsor a statewide essay contest called Lives Worth Living, and the teachers who work with these young people work with them to discover a topic, to focus on an individual, and the whole class works on looking at people of achievement whom they really can connect to. And I think one could do this in the science arena through this series of science fairs. So there is my first idea.

There is one industry in this country which was entirely created by women. In the twentieth century, it began with fluid motion, and has grown to become one of the major exports of our culture, and that industry is modern dance. Now, itís quite interesting, Isadora Duncan gave the first public appearance of dance. She really did create the performance millieu. She took a group of women, she only worked with women, and she moved what was a private exploration into the public. Then there were people like Ruth Sandenas, who moved from Vaudeville and the Broadway Stage, and began to popularize this medium even further. And she actually began to work with men. All of the women who essentially mentored men - in this field, in modern dance, the women mentored men. Ruth Sandenas chose Ted Shawn, who created something called Men Dancing, a revolutionary thing in America. In fact, certainly there were no men in modern dance in America. And she was followed by an extraordinary group of women; Hanya Holm, who mentored Murray Louis and Alwin Nicholas; Doris Humphrey, who basically mentored Jose Limon; Catherine Dunham, who mentored Lester Horton and Alvin Ailey; Martha Graham, who mentored all the rest. You look at anyone else, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, who all came out of Marthaís tradition, and of course there were many, many women who came through those traditions as well.

And then there is a favorite story I would like to tell of Bessie Schoenberg, who was a dancer with Martha, but who was injured early in her career, and who became perhaps the greatest teacher of modern dance choreographers of our time. And everyone who was creating dance, and who created dance until just a few years ago, would troop up to Sarah Lawrence, where she was head of the dance program, and show her their new work. Among those people was a young guy named Jerry Robbins, who when he decided to do his first work, took it up to Bessie. Bessie saw it, took a good view of it, and she told him there was something there. That was extraordinary, as far as he was concerned, and it made him feel that he could become a choreographer. Now, Bessie did that for Meredith Monk, and for many, many women.

So this is an art form that really is a womenís contribution to art, American absolutely and entirely. And I believe that the NEA and NEH could give incentive grants, and I think they should be partner grants, because we should recreate and present the seminal work of these founders of American modern dance. And I also think we should tell their history and document this work. If we donít document this work, it is going to disappear, and we are going to lose it. And this is a particular part of our heritage that we should celebrate, and we could celebrate it in venues all across America, and we can do both the history and the performance and have a jubilee.


Questions from the Commission:

Ann Lewis: What a wonderful idea, we have a lot to think about.

Ann Lewis then introduced Ms. Ann D. Gordon, Editor, Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and Associate Research Professor in the Department of History at Rutgers University.


Ms. Ann D. Gordon

I have also been asked by Professor Eric Foner, President of the American Historical Association, whose classes begin today, to convey to the Commission AHAís enthusiastic endorsement of the project of celebrating and commemorating womenís contributions to American history. And to acknowledge that historians are acutely aware today that any account of the nationís past that slights the role of women must be woefully incomplete.

I am the project director and editor of the Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and also currently the president of the Association for Documentary Editing. I want to speak about historical editing - its relationship to the wider community of womenís history; its importance to the goals of developing, institutionalizing, and sustaining womenís history; and its needs.

Before I begin, however, a word about my own background. My working life, since I left graduate school in 1971, corresponds almost exactly to the span of the womenís history revival. It was 1970 when I published, with friends from graduate school, one of the earliest articles in American womenís history. That article, which eventually sold more than 10,000 copies before it was anthologized, appeared in a photo-offset journal, Radical America, whose editorial "offices," so to speak, were on the floor of a friendís living room. The contrast between that pamphlet and the hefty, hardbound volume one of the Selected Papers of Stanton and Anthony mark more than my personal progression or aging; they are among the many signposts of womenís historyís maturation.

Subjects of national importance in womenís history were added to the lists of federally and privately funded editorial projects in 1975. I went to work that year in Chicago on the Jane Addams Papers Project, the first womenís edition funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Historical Publications Commission. This was an early victory in the contests for recognition of womenís history. A list of editions best characterized as one of "Great White Men" became more inclusive of American experience in the 1970s when federal agencies helped to establish projects not only in womenís history but also in African American, Spanish-American, and labor history. Currently underway, in addition to the Stanton and Anthony papers, are editions of the papers of Jane Addams, Emma Goldman, and Margaret Sanger. These are soon to be joined, as youíve heard, by the Eleanor Roosevelt project.

Historical editors make available the primary sources on which all manner of historical research is based. Although editions require enormous amounts of research to prepare, they exist primarily to encourage and improve further research and learning. Editors talk in terms of producing editions with lifespans of one hundred years; the figure comes from the papers of the Founding Fathers, where nineteenth-century editions are being replaced with more comprehensive and modern works. But itís an important figure for discussion of editions in general. They are, fundamentally, reference works that lay an enduring foundation to answer questions we cannot anticipate, asked by people not yet born.

I emphasize this point because I believe that editions need to be categorized with archives, museums, historic sites, and other institutions that encourage and perpetuate learning about womenís history. The first, and perhaps the most important, thing that historical editors do is to create something that did not previously exist Ė the papers of an individual or group of major significance.

There were no "papers of Stanton and Anthony" before we can began in 1982. We conducted an international search for manuscripts, pamphlet literature, and newspaper reports. We found the 14,000 documents we assembled over the next six years in two hundred and ten different libraries and six hundred different newspapers and periodicals. It was a job no individual scholar could take on.

Then, rather than creating an archives in one location, we published all that we had found, organized, identified, described, and indexed in 45 reels of microfilm, which can be read in a hundred libraries or borrowed through the networks of interlibrary loan. That job took ten years, and we are known as a relatively quick and efficient project.

A second phase began in 1993, when we launched the Selected Papers of Stanton and Anthony. The first volume of what will be a six volume edition, was published in 1997; the second, awaiting its index on my desk at this moment, will appear this spring. In this stage, we are working with the same sources but applying more scholarship to their presentation, in anticipation of an audience ranging from high school students and adult readers to college professors. The cost of book production and realistic assessments of the market dictate that we publish in the volumes only ten percent of the entire collection. Accurate transcription (of what must be described as atrocious handwriting) is the starting point. We then proceed to annotate the sources - identifying people, explicating internal references, and providing the context for discussion in the documents.

Lest you think we are locked in old media models, I should add that we have also released a small electronic edition on the World Wide Web. "Travels for Reform: The Early Work of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton" provides documents with maps and annotation that focus on the first decade of cooperation between Stanton and Anthony here in New York State. We have yet to learn who is in fact consulting this edition, but we are promoting it for high school and college use, and will seek funding to prepare guides for teachers.

When the sources are made available, people find uses for them. We know this is happening with the Papers of Stanton and Anthony in all of their formats. The staff at the Womenís Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls bought the microfilm for their own use as soon as it was released, and many staff members bought copies of volume one for their own use. Within the month, the researcher for an historic structures report on the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester will begin reading the microfilm edition. The film Not for Ourselves Alone was researched and written from our publications and office files; both Ken Burns and scriptwriter Geoff Ward have said publicly that without the projectís work, they could not have produced the film. There are books and dissertations aplenty. I met Barbara Goldsmith because her research for her book, Other Powers, led her first to our office files and later to our microfilm edition. Oxford University Press has a young adult biography of Stanton in production that has made extensive use of the letters in our first volume.

An edition is, as I have said, a foundation on which womenís history can be learned, taught, and constructed in many forms. By recognizing editions as part of the infrastructure of womenís history in the United States, this Commission can help the individual projects and encourage the cultivation of historical knowledge.

Recognize and support the federal agencies funding editorial projects in womenís history. Specifically, I would urge you to recognize the important roles played by the two federal agencies that have fostered and funded editions in womenís history: the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Greater support for these agencies from the White House, Congress, and the public will promote womenís history.

Inform the private sector about needs in womenís history. To help in the area of private sector fundraising, the Commission can educate foundations and philanthropists about the range of needs and the interconnectedness of a variety of historical enterprises, thus helping donors to make informed choices. I have eighteen years of experience raising money to support the Papers of Stanton and Anthony. Fifteen years ago the chief problem in raising funds for an editorial project in the private sector was competition between social services and scholarship, the pressing needs of the present versus long-range intellectual potential. I think weíve moved beyond that particular competition; I think the value of investment in history is much better understood. But all historical work is not equal in the eye of the donor; she must balance the special appeal of the visual world of buildings, films, and museum exhibits against a microfilm; she chooses between the impact or reaching a popular audience and the cloistered work of the editor-scholar.

Distribute editions and tools of research to the American people. Volume one of the Papers of Stanton and Anthony should be, minimally, in every public library in New York State. It is volume of local history as much as it is one of national significance, invaluable, if nothing else, every March, when assignments for womenís history are passed out. Yet public libraries cannot afford books that cost sixty dollars. In order to make it possible for public libraries to acquire the tools for learning womenís history, I call your attention to Susan B. Anthonyís methods for distributing copies of the History of Woman Suffrage. She lined up women of means to buy copies for libraries. Women today could do the same to ensure that editions, encyclopedias, and other tools of learning reach the public.

Encourage the start of new editorial projects. There is a list, created in the 1970s, of womenís papers that historians thought warranted the intense labor and investment of a documentary edition. Most of the projects on that list have never been done. Historians today would no doubt want to revise that list, in light of the ways they have rethought significance and sources; that would be quickly done if there was hope that new projects could be started and sustained. Thirty years into this revival of womenís history, we may publish hefty volumes, but weíve only begun to uncover the records of American womanhood.


Questions from the Commission:

Ann Lewis: Thank you for all of your work.

Irene Wurtzel: Are they available in paperback form?

Ann Gordon: There are two printings of paperbacks that were prepared primarily for classrooms. It is a mix of things done by Professor Ellen DuBois at UCLA. I think the Park Service sells this in record numbers, because it is an affordable book, itís a wonderful collection of sources and itís a very good teaching book. There is no efficient way to sell a book this size as a paperback.

Barbara Goldsmith: I know you publish a guide to the microfilm. Do you think that since the microfilm is more widely disseminated, that there is a way to do that with each volume that you are doing? That same guide of exactly where on the microfilm youíll find what, I found that unbelievably helpful.

Ann Gordon: Yes, we will do that. The world of E-Bay alone adds items to our list. I think the thing that makes the biggest difference is the World Wide Web. We were able to get our microfilm publisher to give us a list of everyone who had bought the microfilm. And then we published on our website the list of all the libraries worldwide that own it. And that helps the people who are not at a library that owns it, to find it. This helps us to keep multiplying and spreading the information. We have tantalizing bits from our volumes on our website too, as another way to at least draw attention to the existence of the volumes.

Ann Lewis then introduced Ms. Molly Murphy MacGregor, Executive Director of the National Womenís History Project for 19 years.


Ms. Molly Murphy MacGregor

I canít even tell you how thrilling it is for me to be in this room with all of you. I said this the first time I came to a Commission meeting to see the ways that womenís history has become validated and legitimized. I say that because every day we deal with the obstacles, and to actually be in the room with the people who have made that history, and celebrate it, and understand it, is just such a rare and extraordinary experience that I just have to take in every bit of it because some things are not always this good.

Of course I brought handouts because I am a teacher, and I want everyone to go home with something. The National Womenís History Project was formed actually 20 years ago, weíre celebrating our twentieth anniversary, and actually weíre going to Washington, DC to celebrate it big time, and Iíll talk about that. But we began our work in the schools, clearly because there was nothing being taught about women. And we know that isolating a single month, or week, or day, is problematic in the fact that then people can say we did that already, but clearly we had to have a starting point.

So in our own county in 1978, we had our first Womenís History Week, which was around the date of March 8th, International Womenís Day. We selected that week because we wanted to stress the international connections between and among all women, we wanted to make sure it was a multicultural celebration and we wanted to talk about the fact that women were workers, because, clearly women were going to work. Were they going to work at McDonaldís or were they going to work at Microsoft, depending upon what they chose to do, but clearly they were going to work outside the home. So thatís why we selected March 8th as International Womenís Day, and Iíd like to say that it really is an American holiday. Itís a day that celebrates the uprising of the 20,000 in New York City, the fact that it was decreed at a European Convention, and the fact that it was Europe who picked it up because itís a labor holiday, doesnít in any way dismiss the fact that it is celebrating American women.

We selected March 8th, and we took the idea to a national conference. They loved it, and started lobbying Congress. In 1980, I got a call from Sarah Weddington at the White House, I was the director of our local commission at the time. Sarah Weddington was saying that President Carter was about to call on the American people to pause and remember the extraordinary contributions of women. It was our beginning, it was our kickoff. The next year we had a Congressional Resolution that really legitimized it. Now all of you know how essential it is if we are going to impact the schools, to have government auspices say this is not some quirky idea that originated in California, but clearly it is a national celebration. So we used the Congressional Resolution every chance we got. When we went into conservative communities, and they got nervous about it, we used whatever tools we could. And eventually, within a year, we saw this extraordinary interest throughout the entire country. Governors, by three years into the celebration, were declaring the entire month of March as Womenís History Month. So in 1987 we went back to Congress and said you are behind the times, look how many governors are doing this, and they declared the whole month of March Womenís History Month. So thatís the history of it.

What weíre going to do, this March 22nd, is weíre going back to our nationís capital, in Statuary Hall, and the Presidentís Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History and the Congressional Womenís Caucus are stepping forward to honor the National Womenís History Project. And, really even more important, to honor the fact that weíve had Womenís History Month.

Again, I canít stress enough how important the month has been. The kind of work that is going on in our nationís correctional institutions about bringing books, resources, images of women in, is one of those extraordinary things that is happening. And unless we know it, acknowledge it and celebrate it, it stays contained rather than expanded.

This is our brand new catalogue, this is our poster for Womenís History Month, the National Womenís History Project is an educational non-profit, and we sustain ourselves 90% through sales from our catalogue, so thank you to each and every one of you that buys products. When we first did our catalogue in 1981, we had 8 pages of everything that existed at the time that was authentic, multicultural womenís history, and we had to stretch it. Now, for everything thatís in here, there are 10 other resources that are available.

The other thing I want to say about young girls, because of course our audience is always the schools, and terminology, and how do we get them to get it. One of the things we might consider is changing our language. For young people today in the schools, whatever color they are, whatever sex they are, they have real aversion to a concept like affirmative action. So I think we need to learn new language. One of the expressions with kids that has really resonated, and it shows in the product lines that weíre able to carry now, is the concept: girls who rock the world. And I think we should start talking about the women who rocked the world. We wonít call them militant feminists, we can eventually get to that, but if we first get their attention by using their language, something they understand and can embrace the concept, and then we can get to the levels of really helping them understand and appreciate. I think we need to move to their language, because we are now the older generation.

I brought our press kit for the Commission. I am happy to mail one to anyone who wants one. One of the things that the National Womenís History Project asks you to do is to go forth and multiply our materials, so just give us credit. Anything you want to use, please do so and use it frequently. I also encourage all of you to visit our website if you want to know whatís happening throughout March and the rest of the year, if you want resources, if you want links to other things, please visit NWHP.org. The whole idea of celebrating and recognizing where weíve come from to really give us the strength and power to carry on to where we need to go to.

March 22nd will be a two-day celebration. You are all invited. The Commission is going to be meeting, we are going to have an event on the Hill, a bus tour and a reception at the Sewall-Belmont House, again to really recognize what women have done to bring us where we are in the twentieth century.


Questions from the Commission:

Ann Lewis: Thank you for your ideas and your enthusiasm.

Allida Black: I would just like to piggyback on something that Ann said and Molly said: as somebody who teaches Freshman women, U.S. Political History, the website Molly has put up is phenomenal. The primary source material that people have been able to put on the web is just invaluable, I stand in awe of your website.

Molly MacGregor: We have the National Womenís History Project website, and we also have the Legacy.org website, which is exclusively about the Womenís Rights movement in the United States.

Audience Member: Weíre working on the archives of Mary Baker Eddy, in Boston. Iím curious to know if you have integrated or discussed women religious leaders. There is a hesitancy to reshape history and say this religious leader was a suffragette. I was curious to know about specifically your area.

Molly MacGregor: I think if you look at our website you will see that every range of womenís accomplishment, every website that we can find, weíre always researching, and of course, women in religion is a huge topic. We have lesbian links on our websites, so the state of California cannot downlink to us, because of their concerns about pornography. We include the lives of all women because that is what womenís history is, the lives of all women.

Beth Newburger: In our community handbook, we list over 200 womenís history sites, and on our own website we do have many, many links. We are trying to do the links two ways, both electronically and in print.

Ellen Chesler: Given that we are about to see launched in New York in February an e-commerce location for women, Oxygen Media, and because I gather millions of dollars was given to Gerry Laybourne for uses of this site, I suggest that we enlist someone from Oxygen who deals with the non-profit aspects of the company and its philanthropic activity. We should try to get a little space there.

Domna Stanton: The NOW Legal Defense Fund is now putting up its own site for and about women. It will be launched towards mid-March, and you should indicate the Commissionís activities there.

Bridget OíFarrell: I hadnít planned on commenting today, but I canít resist. Part of it is to raise again the importance of including the voices of working class women, particularly labor union women, and I know that is an issue that the Commission is well aware of, but also then to come up with some ideas about how to link to the popular culture, through the issues of working class women. In this building we have the papers of Rose Pasoda, who was an organizer for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and their first Vice President, and she resigned because she felt she was in a token position in the 1930s, and didnít want to continue in that token position. She wrote a novel, which is down the hall here, and remains unpublished. I wanted to somehow come back to this idea of the popular culture, to use some of the unions: the Screen Actors Guild, the Radio and Television Workers, to dramatize some of womenís history, and in particular womenís union history. There is such a rich history of that here in New York City. It could be a very rich resource to restore.

Ann Lewis: As you know, our Commissioner Gloria Johnson is with CLUW. I wish she were here, but at the last minute she had a family emergency. Why donít we go back to Gloria and see if she could help us set up such a meeting.

Molly MacGregor: I would like to lobby hard for a day to celebrate women, but I would like to really recommend that it not be a single woman. Because, if you put up any woman, you are going to all of a sudden hear about how flawed she was, etc. I would really like to lobby for International Womenís Day, or, my favorite, August 26th, the anniversary of suffrage.

Domna Stanton: My question is about the Commissionís resources. Is part of your agenda to ask for specific resources to do some of these things?

Ann Lewis: It is two parts. To be quite candid, we try to find practical ways to achieve what we can through public-private partnerships. Lynn talked about the way to get things done is to find people who will pick it up and do it, whether it is another government agency or someone in the private sector. We try in the tone of our report, and sometimes explicitly, to say that more resources should be allocated to these projects. But I think we also feel that the way to get things done is to find the right agency or the right partner who will do it and work with them very directly.

Domna Stanton: Let me ask a question in terms of the Commissionís mandate. For how many years is this mandate, and when you say finding partnerships, is it the Commissioners individual and collective task to say weíll go to NEH, weíll go to NEA, Iím just trying to think through where you go from here?

Beth Newburger: Let me tell you a little bit about how this Commission actually came into being. The lady to my left, Ann Lewis, understood the need for recognition on the part of the Federal Government that womenís history really needed to have a spotlight on it, and through her tireless lobbying, and I really want to say this out loud and for the record, through her tireless lobbying this President who already understood the value of women in political life, put the Commission into real form. It was put into real form, however, without resources, as so many things that we want to do are.

Ann understood that we needed a partner in the Federal Government that would actually put a few dollars behind it, and approached the General Services Administration, and asked the Administrator of the General Services Administration, a very unusual move, if he would take it on. I think Ann felt that part of the reason GSA would be an appropriate venue is that GSA does have the responsibility for the historic preservation of the federal buildings. So there was a connection to history that seemed like it might work, rather than go to the Park Service, which is the more obvious choice, but the Park Service is asked so often to do this kind of work.

So the resources are very limited, and in fact, when we provided the President with our report in March of 1999, and the Commission was envisioned as ending with the submission of that report, it was again through Annís vision that we should attempt to get the recommendations implemented and begin to develop the public-private partnerships that would carry on the work suggested, that the President did something very unusual for Presidential Commissions. He extended the life of this Commission through the end of the year 2000. So we bought an extra year, in effect, to try to establish these public-private partnerships.

Do we see it as our role to actually ask for funding from the Federal Government? Probably not. Do we see it as our role to identify appropriate partnerships? Absolutely. And thatís the role that I think all of us are now trying to gather in your suggestions - we hear organizations that would make good partners with other organizations, and I hope that what will come out at the end of this Commissionís work will be a recommendation that will be twofold: first, here are the ongoing projects that we think are essential for commemorating womenís history celebrations and the possible partnerships that can exist, and secondly, probably a recommendation that future presidentís continue through the work of future commissions to cast the spotlight on it.

The ideas that have come forth have really been inspirational in many quarters in the Federal Government and we are beginning to find response. As we said earlier, for example, from the National Archives. The archivists heard the message, and went back to fund the projects for the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers. So we have some concrete examples of that.

Deborah Sale: Having served in the Federal Government, and having run the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities (which doesnít exist at the moment), the exciting thing is how easy in a way it is to get other federal agencies which can sustain things far beyond the White House initial initiative to buy into exciting ideas. And I think that just raising their level of interest is enough to excite people even way down in the bureaucracy to begin to do things that will have repercussions for a very long time to come.

Ann Lewis: Thatís our goal, thank all of you, and we will break and begin again at 2:00pm.

Ann Lewis called the meeting back to order and said a few words about Josie Fernandez, the Fourth Superintendent of Womenís Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls and Waterloo, NY: I just want to give you one sentence from Josie Fernandezís biography that says a lot about this American womanís history. A political refugee from Cuba, Ms. Fernandezís career began with the United States Air Force, after she became a United States citizen on July 4, 1976.


Ms. Josie Fernandez

Good Afternoon, and thank you for making time for me in the afternoon. Unfortunately, my travel plans got all out of whack with the bad weather. At any rate, what I wanted to address, is the wonderful restoration and preservation opportunities and new developments at Womenís Rights National Historical Park.

If you recall, about 1 Ĺ years ago, we were celebrating the sesquicentennial of the first womenís rights convention, and a lot has happened since then. The designation of the McClintock House as a site in the Save Americaís Treasures program, and the wonderful publicity that we have gotten recently through the New York Times article that brought focus and attention on the Hunt House, has enabled us to not only acquire the Hunt House and finally bring into the Park the last privately owned historic building associated with the leaders of the convention, but also through a wonderful donation (and she is not here for me to thank her publicly and acknowledge her) but a matching grant of the Save Americaís Treasures grant, and a wonderful generous donation from Dr. Goldsmith has enabled us to match the grant and begin the work on the interior restoration of the McClintock House, and this is very exciting news.

It is very exciting news because this national park was just established 19 years ago, and for the better part of those 19 years we have been gathering information and doing the research and the compilation of information that is required to be able to develop it and to develop it sensitively. And so within 19 years weíve been able to have it fully under our stewardship and the stewardship of the National Park Service. And the stewardship of the National Federal Government is important, because if we donít protect it and we donít honor it, who will? And if we fail to protect it and honor it, then by that failure weíre giving cause for people to think that itís not important, and important it is. Because although it is a story about women, it is also a story about Americans, Americans that were demanding their citizenship rights, Americans that were once and for all fed-up with the status of their democracy. So they are the ones who set it right with the Declaration of Sentiments.

A little bit about the McClintock House: The McClintock House is the sight where the Declaration of Sentiments was drafted. That was only a couple of hours work, and that does not make a house important as such. At the McClintock House, Thomas and Mary Ann McClintock were also working as very active abolitionists. Itís also a place that we consider to possibly have been an Underground Railroad stop. Free blacks recited with the McClintocks. It is a place where we are not only going to talk about the Womenís Rights Movement, but also about the Abolitionist Movement, and also the entrepreneurial spirit of the McClintocks.

Our project goals at the McClintock House are to restore it, open it to the public, and interpret the history of womenís rights as well as the abolitionist themes. We are planning to fund this project through several funding sources - I mentioned those already. Suffice it to say that not all the money is in place, there is always the need for money.

The Hunt House was the last privately owned property that was within the boundaries of the Park, but that we had not been able to acquire. We did not have a willing seller until recently. Since late May, a lot of interested people have tried to purchase the house. The Trust for Historic Lands, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation acquired the property on the 17th of December, 1999. The Hunt House is where the original tea took place where the women decided they were going to start a revolution. The Huntís were also active abolitionists, and donated their energy in time and money to the causes that they supported. As soon as we have legislation to acquire the property, the trust will turn over the property to us and we will begin restoration work.


Questions from the Commission:

Ann Lewis: Can you tell us about visitor interest in the Park? How many visitors you are getting, whether that has changed?

Josie Fernandez: It has dramatically changed. Our baseline visitation in 1997 was approximately 28,000 per year. In 1999, we had approximately 40,000 visitors (and in an off year with no big name draw). And I am predicting that the interest will continue, and the Ken Burns film will bring more people to visit the sites.

Molly MacGregor: I want to thank the National Park Service on behalf of the National Womenís History Project.

Josie Fernandez: One of the next projects (weíre thinking big) is that we would like to host a research center in Seneca Falls where we will be able to work with other parks to develop their own stories about women and people of other cultures.

Beth Newburger: Do you have an idea of how long it will take to restore the McClintock and Hunt House?

Josie Fernandez: For the McClintock House we are 100% on plans and specs, and could start this Spring/Summer. For the Hunt House, the slow work now begins (detective work, then just a matter of money). With the focus and attention and excitement I cannot help but predict that it will not take very long.

Although she could not attend in person, Diane Helene Miller, post-doctoral research assistant and academic advisor at the University of Georgia, and author of Freedom to Differ: The Shaping of the Gay and Lesbian Struggle for Civil Rights submitted the following remarks:


Diane Miller

At the heart of the phrase "Celebrating Women in American History" lies a fundamental contradiction. On the one hand, a celebration is by definition a public spectacle. It implies recognition and acknowledgment, a process of making visible and highlighting particular persons or events. On the other hand, as feminists have repeatedly noted, the study of U.S. history has been, and in many way remains, a study of "his-story," a narrative of menís activities and accomplishments so apparently self-contained that the female form rarely, if ever, enters the landscape. (If it does, it is just that - form only, without real substance.) Womenís role in what is commonly recognized as U.S. history has been precisely to remain out of the public realm and the public eye, to conduct their activities in an appropriately discreet and private manner, rendering their contributions to history invisible and unacknowledged (though often of vital importance).

To celebrate publicly these contributions is therefore not only an act of discovery and affirmation, of unearthing and illuminating the role of womenís words and actions in our nationís past. It is also an act of rejection, a violation of the centuries-old prohibition on womenís public presence, a refusal of the severe constrictions on behavior and speech that have conspired to keep women both invisible and silent. The fact that these prohibitions have never entirely succeeded in silencing women, and the innumerable ways in which women have courageously circumvented, ignored, or transgressed these boundaries and restrictions, make the story of U.S. women that much more compelling, and that much more remarkable.

If the division between private and public realms has characterized the role of American women historically, it has been a defining feature of lesbian life both past and present. Women-loving women have existed in every era of American history. They have contributed, often in disproportionate numbers, to every major social movement in the 19th and 20th centuries, from abolition to labor unions to suffragism to civil rights, and lesbians have figured prominiently in the womenís movements of both centuries as well as in the lesbian and gay rights movement. In these endeavors, their work, like the work of so many other women, was frequently underappreciated, unacknowledged, or simply dismissed. Often they were forced to hide who they were in order not to discredit the social causes they advocated, and as a result it remains difficult even today to identify who among these leaders may have experienced, expressed, or acted upon feelings of love for other women. It remains difficult, in fact, even to define what being a woman-loving woman might have entailed at various points in history, and historians disagree, sometimes vehemently, to whom this description should apply.

Nevertheless, if we are to remain true to the goal of seeking out the hidden women in history, if we wish to genuinely embrace the values of inclusiveness and diversity, and if we are serious in our intention to speak on behalf of and to those women who are most often forgotten by history, then we must be diligent in seeking out and celebrating the innumerable contributions of those who, whatever their label, have shared a love for other women that transgresses societal boundaries and violates the norms of compulsory heterosexuality. Such a commitment, moreover, bears a special significance for those of us concerned about the impact of our work on youth. The illumination and acknowledgment of lesbiansí contributions to American history serve as crucial points of reference and identification for young women and men who are questioning their sexual identity, struggling with self-acceptance, or seeking to establish a sense of community and a feeling of belonging in the world.

There is yet another dimension to lesbiansí activism that makes their inclusion so critical to the Commissionís project, and that is their creation of a broad-based and flourishing womenís culture. At various times and in various settings, lesbians have established women-centered or women-only communities, whether at weekend workshops, week-long music festivals, month-long retreats, or self-supporting cooperatives or collectives maintained over the years. They have created a womenís culture that has grown to encompass womenís politics, music, television, art, film, theater, books, newspapers, magazines, journals, and most recently web sites, as well as burgeoning commercial ventures featuring womenís products and services. The recognition of the vastness of, and variety within, womenís culture reminds us that while the work of women in history has often been carried out alongside men, for the purposes and according to the tasks set forth by men, some of womenís energies and activism have been devoted to the creation and expression of a distinctive, women-centered culture. To neglect this element of womenís historical role is to relegate these women and this culture again to silence and invisibility. Similarly, womenís work on behalf of the lesbian and gay rights movement has contributed to the astonishing changes that have taken place in the status and visibility of lesbians and gay men over the past 30 years, and to the growing influence of gay and lesbian culture on the mainstream. These are stories that must be told. For this history, too, is American history.

The Commission needs to actively seek representatives of various lesbian communities, including lesbians of diverse ages and racial backgrounds, to contribute to local and national initiatives celebrating womenís contributions to history. In all of its work, the Commission and those who work on its behalf must be vigilant in questioning the unspoken equation of women with the more limited group of heterosexual women, in the same way they must reject the implicit identification of the term women with white women, Christian women, or able-bodied women. As with the inclusion of other minority groups, lesbians must be recognized for their contributions to "mainstream" American history as well as to lesbian and gay history and to the history of the unique womenís culture they created. Lesbians must be honored for their contributions "as women" and "as lesbians," with the recognition that these two identities are neither entirely overlapping nor entirely separable, and with the awareness that to be a lesbian and a woman is never the whole of oneís identity nor the entire basis for oneís contributions. Lesbians include women of all ages, racial and ethnic groups, nationalities, religions, physical abilities, socioeconomic groups, and political affiliations; they are mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, wives, and friends. Lesbiansí contributions to history may emerge from any, all, or none of these elements of identity.

In continuing to develop the Commissionís plan of action, history itself teaches us an important lesson. The individuals and groups highlighted in the narrative of history bear a remarkable resemblance to the individuals and groups empowered to write that history. American history has been, until recently, a story written almost exclusively by privileged men. It is therefore not surprising that the history they have recorded is peopled, almost exclusively, by others like themselves. In the project of reclaiming womenís contributions to America history, then, it is both appropriate and vital that we learn from the past. The identities of the narrators will inevitably influence the way the story is told. Awareness of and attention to this fundamental human limitation can moderate its effects, but we can also use this tendency to our advantage by inviting members of underrepresented groups - in this case, lesbians from a variety of backgrounds to - to participate in constructing the narrative from the ground up. My closing recommendation, then, is threefold: Look for the lesbians among you; look for the lesbians among the women whose contributions you celebrate; and finally, look for the lesbians who are not (yet) among either of these groups.


Beth Newburger invited members of the audience to address the Commission during deliberations on the next steps the Commission should be taking to document womenís history.

Trudy Mason: This morning when I spoke, I said I was discarding my prepared text, but I did leave one thing out of the text which I would like to suggest to the Commission. In telling you the various things that I did I neglected to mention that I am also a member of The American Political Items Collectors. And this is an organization, a nationwide organization, in which Ann is also a member, of people who collect Political Americana - mostly campaign buttons, but also paper and other items relating to history. And I have one of the largest womenís buttons collections, mostly of women candidates in the 20th Century. I also have a number of womenís suffrage pieces, though there are people, including Ann Lewis, whose collections of womenís suffrage are much more extensive.

Because of my involvement in the APIC, I have been asked to put together, especially here in New York, or to help put together and curate various exhibits that have to do with political history. I also was honored to be asked to contribute my political items to the exhibit that was held about two years ago now at the New York Historical Society, on Eleanor Roosevelt, the New York Years. I contributed all of the various buttons and other items. Also, doing some historical research, I found out that Eleanor Roosevelt, while Al Smith was governor, headed up the first Womenís Division of the New York State Democratic Party. Iíve also put together a series of exhibits for the city of New York on mayorís races, etc.

One of the things I have found in putting these exhibits together is that, and Iíll use the mayor exhibit as an example, is that I got the buttons and paper of everybody who ran for mayor, and I said, "but, we should also have Bella, Carol Bellamy and I even included Diane McKechny who had been a Republican sacrificial candidate at one point." The museum, and the people who were putting this together who happened to be women said that they didnít know that there were any, we hadnít even thought of this. Which leads me to the point that as we talk about putting together exhibits on womenís history and on different things that women have been involved with, that we should also remember to include women in whatever else is being done historically, and to remind museums, libraries, whoever asks us to, that women should be included and womenís history should be included in any historical work, and especially in any historical exhibits that are put together.

Sally Kranz: As I said this morning, I am here to tell you what we have been doing, and to listen and get new ideas, and I certainly have gotten many new ideas. As you know, Ann and Beth, our organization changes every couple of years when we get a new national president and new state presidents, and that is going to be happening in June. I know this Commission is going out next December, but I think that we are going to start things in this year, and we are going to want to keep the roll going. And I would like some word to come from this Commission to our organization to say, keep it going for the next 110 years of your existence. I think they will do that, they will continue to do it, but a little push and a little help from a Commission like this would be good for us.

Beth Newburger: Well noted Sally, we will push, we promise to push.

Allida Black: I actually have been giving a lot of thought to this, because I think that Ellen and Ann did such a good job in detailing specific financial ideas before the Commission. Having served on numerous Commissions with no budget, I certainly understand the constraints. Iíd like to place before the Commission something to consider to follow-up on the conversation that we ended with before we broke for lunch.

I think the concept of public-private partnership is phenomenal. And I stand here today as proof positive of what the Commission can do with federal agencies. But, just to give you a real world example for folks in the audience who may not know, the budget for the Eleanor Roosevelt papers for three years, conservatively, which everyone tells me is too low, is $1.8 million. Justice will rule on earth and sexism will disappear if the Roosevelt papers get $500,000 from the Archives for three years. So that means that it is up to us who are involved with it to raise another $1.3 million. For somebody thatís a rooky at fundraising like me, it means that I hit everyone that I know and plead with people who know people to help. But, the more I talk to people, the more I realize that other very serious substantive glitzy projects are in the same dilemma.

I would like to make the following suggestion, to be debated in private behind closed doors where you can trash Allida. I would really like you to seriously consider something that could be a glitzy promo event like a Title IX for womenís history. Not in the sense of saying funding will be denied if you do not comply, but a nationwide push thatís very visible with famous folks out there saying, "weíve got to do this." Because you can knock on corporationís doors, you can knock on bankís doors, you can submit every proposal under the sun to Ford and McArthur and The Open Society, but youíre competing with everybody else.

What I have learned from Ellen Lovell is how to use a letter that I got from the White House Millennium Council saying to parlay this into that. So, if you guys could come up with something that would be a slogan that would grab peopleís attention, where you could get people of substance and people of fame (not necessarily that substance and fame are contradictions in terms) to sign on to this. To develop a PR campaign for public-private partnerships that deal with womenís history. We could use the money that we get from federal agencies as challenge grants. That may be something that the Commission could do that wouldnít cost you money, but would seriously help us.

If not, whatís going to happen, as Ann Gordon can attest to better than any person in the room, is that those of us who get started are going to go back to using everything that weíve got to keep the project going, because weíre going to get funded at such a low base that weíre never going to be able to meet the expectations that have been set for us. So it will feed in again to this thing of another womanís project that dreams big, but canít achieve its goals. If there are ways that the Commission could do that, I would be forever grateful. And I would be happy to volunteer to help on that if you are recruiting help.

Molly MacGregor: One of the things that we have done is to take quotes from contemporary women, people who are known, and so we will be glad to provide you with that list if that would be the first contact people. Because obviously, these women get it, and they might be a good starting point. We would be glad to pass them on.

Bridget OíFarrell: I would just add that womenís organizations in New York and Washington and around the country have people on their boards who often come from various sectors, both the business sector and the entertainment sector, and Iím thinking of my own board. There might be some way that the Commission could pull together people from the board of the various womenís committees to get this kind of thing done.

Beth Newburger: It is certainly worth talking about in the next section that we have, right after we take a short break. I do want to make one comment. This is a public commission, and just so you all know, we donít debate behind closed doors, and everything we say is here in the open for all of you to hear and comment. This public commission will take a 15-minute break, and then we will return and conclude our discussion with next steps for the Commission.


Ann Lewis called the meeting back to order: I heard two themes coming out of today. One, is the ongoing activities and really some brilliant creative work, everything from maps of New York State, to a pop-up book, but ways in which in the last couple of years people have been making history come alive that we should talk about exploring. And the second, interestingly, were a set of structural recommendations. How we can build support for libraries, research, post-doctoral fellowships, the wonderful phrase of a Title IX for womenís history came along. Perhaps those give us guidelines for the kind of discussion we might have of ways we pursue from here.

Anna Roosevelt: I am sorry that some of us missed about half of the testimony this morning, I understand that is was really rich and Iím looking forward to getting the notes. But, I was thinking about Allidaís suggestion that there be a Title IX support source for women that would be a challenge program, which I think is a very good idea. I was wondering if we couldnít enliven our women in congress, in the House and Senate, and enlist their bipartisan and unanimous support for a program that needs a lot of thinking through, and probably a lot of thinking through with their staffs. Perhaps we could look at March, and the Commission could have an event with the women in congress, to share some of the things that weíve learned, share our vision with them, and see if we canít develop more of a partnership with them.

Ann Lewis: Actually we are having an event, a celebratory event, because we are co-sponsoring with the Congressional Womenís Caucus. Maybe this is a more substantive meeting. Let me ask, for a moment, because Molly youíve been very much a part of these conversations, do you have any sense in your conversations with Lynn Woolsey and members of congress, has there been a substantive piece?

Molly MacGregor: We havenít gone there, itís all been around event logistics and legal parts of all of it. My impression is that it would have to be something that would really be set up as a private thing in order to get the attention of the Congressional Womenís Caucus. It would take you convening a meeting set apart, so that people would come ready to discuss this. Now, maybe this is a good entrťe to getting them interested and understanding this extraordinary movement thatís happening around the country. I think itís a great idea, because they have so many things that are pulling on them all the time, for you to come together and set up a framework with particular ideas, they can only benefit from that. In every one of their congressional districts, there are tremendous things going on in terms of womenís history.

Ann Lewis: Thatís very helpful. So the next step might be for us to explore that and have a meeting. Weíre looking at the days of the 22nd and 23rd of March for our next meeting, so we might see if we could schedule a smaller meeting with members of congress.

Beth Newburger: Let me ask the other members of the Commission. I know Ellen will not be able to travel at that time, so youíre excused, but we are talking about the meeting in March being the afternoon of the 22nd and the 23rd. We usually do a full day, and perhaps half of a day before. I would think that if we wanted to do a meeting with members of the Congressional Womenís Caucus, carefully targeted or whatever, that we would have to extend the time that we would spend in Washington. Is the Commission willing to do that, by either a half day earlier or a half day later?

LaDonna Harris: I think that itís important enough that all of us would try. I think we should try.

Beth Newburger: Hereís the real question. Because all of our meetings are public, that would not be a publicly scheduled meeting. We would have to volunteer to come together on our own earlier in the day or the morning after the full dayís meeting, so there are some issues that you need to think about.

Bridget OíFarrell: Just to add that they are quite open, itís really common to do congressional briefing. You could actually do a briefing for staff ahead of time, and then a briefing for members themselves. It could really take off from there.

LaDonna Harris: Along those same lines, like the Womenís Federation, I know we have this association, but do we have some sort of common thread that runs through national organizations? I was thinking of constituency for members of congress or constituency nationwide. Through these organizations and institutions that we have been working through, that we build this constituency group that is interested in seeing this come through. I know that we have this working relationship with so many of you in the room, but I was trying to think of how to use it in a way thatís not subtle, but so that itís obviously there. That this is a group of women supported by other womenís groups, making these recommendations to you, and that we were just a forum for these other groups that will be there permanently.

Molly MacGregor: I was thinking, if you gave us until May, we could get all of the womenís organizations and womenís history projects within the districts of the members of the Congressional Womenís Caucus, we could give them that kind of information, because they probably donít have it. They need to know their investment in terms of their constituents, and how many projects women are doing within their districts.

Allida Black: If I can second that, in April, the American Historical Associations meet, by then American Studies will have met, a lot of the womenís caucuses will have met, theyíll have regional meetings of AAUW and people like that. Molly, if you will take your network, I will take responsibilities for those networks, and try to get resolutions through boards or letters of support, petitions signed, things like that. I would be happy to do that. I would also be glad to provide quick and precise examples that we can brief people on.

Anna Roosevelt: So letís not focus on March necessarily, but focus on when we can present a strong case. LaDonna and Molly mentioning constituencies reminds me that one of the things I think we are hoping for as a result of the work this Commission does in encouraging the celebration of women in American history, is that it wonít be just women celebrating women. It will be men and boys as well. And the men in congress also have constituencies. So I think eventually weíre going to want to be presenting to every member of congress that they have constituencies that care.

Ellen Ochoa: If you talk about drafting resolutions and things, it seems to me that we want to have the Commission draft something that could be used by these different groups, so that we donít come in with twenty different types of resolutions, but that we are all supporting the same thing. That will make our case a lot stronger. Maybe thatís something that we could work on in the meantime, to help provide that, and to let some of you who are willing to help carry it on from there. And then we are much more unified.

Irene Wurtzel: I hate to let March go, though. I donít think we can do all of this by March, but I would like to set something in motion by March, and maybe it is meeting with just the congresswomen, or maybe just their staff. But Iíd like to make contact with them, let them know whatís happening, and maybe talk to them. Maybe they have some good input as to how they could contribute and how we can work together for this.

Ann Lewis: We would try to in March have a small meeting with a few of the congresswomen who we have reason to think would be particularly interested. People who we think are pre-sold. These are our ones, they are the most likely to go for it. We would also ask their advice on what form such a resolution should take.

LaDonna Harris: Itís part of what I was thinking about in your presentation this morning, and seeing several of you here several times at our sessions, is how supportive you all have been to this Commission. And how can we leave something with you when we faze out. I think itís a two-way beneficial, that weíre hoping theyíll be stronger, and they are going to continue to exist because of some of the work that we have done collectively.

Ann Lewis: What I hear is that in April we might look into outreach for historians, certainly the womenís caucuses within historians. By May, to get constituency organizations, and that will include both Molly and Bridget, the organizations you would have connections to. And in June, we would have our ducks lined up to make a larger scale presentation. Is that it?

Irene Wurtzel: And donít forget oral history types, what categories they fall into.

Ann Lewis: Meanwhile, Ellen, while she canít travel, can certainly think, so she is going to be thinking about what form this resolution can take. We will all try to chime in on that, but I think that it would be helpful to figure that one out.

Anything else under the structural, long-term support both for research, for scholarship, we heard about the need for post-doc fellowships, and encouraging young people to stay in this field. So that it would be possible to survive, and one might hope even thrive at it, but at the very least sort of raising the level both of visibility and support. Anything else we could do along those lines?

Ellen Ochoa: Well I think tying it to these public-private partnerships is important, because a lot of times you do get support from groups, from corporations, because there is an education element. A lot of people are interested in supporting education, and if you can say part of this money on this particular project could be to support a couple of post-docs or graduate students working in this area, I think thatís attractive to a lot of funding groups because they see this as a way to fund education. That, I think, should be part of trying to push these types of partnerships.

Allida Black: If I could echo that with the funders that the Eleanor Roosevelt papers have been successful with, they would have said no if it were not for the fellowships that we have built in. So now Iím in a somewhat tender situation - itís a challenge, because certain funders do not want that to be a part of it, but in order to be able to get the major money that you need to run the project, you have to have it. I would really strongly second that, because every bit of money Iíve raised today, every person gave it because fellowships would be involved.

Ann Lewis: Iím going to add one more, which is Ellen Chesler on her way out as we talked, thought that perhaps some kind of conference, which would be almost a final act by the Commission towards the end of the year, if we could get a school or someone to cosponsor with us, where we could talk about prospects for womenís history, but again raise visibility, call attention, help build prospects for support.

Beth Newburger: Would you want that conference to be late spring, or would you prefer to see that happen in September?

Ann Lewis: I think realistically we couldnít do it by late spring. It would be September or November, and I think it would take the right sponsors. But, the question is, is this an event to which, frankly, you could invite funders to be on a panel? You can put the right mix of people together and bring some visibility to them to do it. Itís something thatís definitely worth exploring.

Creative ideas? I just love my map and am going to show it to everyone to see what New York has done.

Beth Newburger: I would like to talk about the creative ideas that Marie brought us, and that wonderful project - the idea of this Commission leaving as part of itís legacy a pop-up book on womenís history is one of the most intriguing that I have heard. I know Molly has a market for it. I would suggest that we have an immediate meeting with Marie as soon as this is over.

Marie Salerno: Whatís wonderful is that the content is right here in this room. You really have all of the riches here to be able to do it. Iíd be happy to talk to a publisher about it. It was a lot of fun to do, and it really was a no-brainer. Asking a major writer for 300 words is not a lot. You get your message across, and there is a very receptive audience. I got contributors to donate extra dollars, so our book could be donated to the public schools as a teaching tool.

Irene Wurtzel: And we could get in touch with other writers, because we could go beyond New York City, and we have a whole national base to draw from, other writers, artists, whatever you need.

Marie Salerno: Let me ask you something. If he agrees that this book could be done, could I count on people in this room to contribute in terms of copy, ideas and photographs, so we could get it done quickly?

Beth Newburger: I certainly would take it on as a representative of the federal government who has got a lot of historical information resonant in her agency to make that available. So I think that you could go pretty far with it.

Marie Salerno: The last one we did we rushed. I started it about this time, and it came out in November. But I was on a learning curve then. The first thing Iím probably going to say to any and all of you is tell me in the book what pops. Thatís a key thing. Pop-up books are one of the oldest book forms. There is a pop-up from the 15th Century downstairs.

Ann Lewis: Iím going to ask that Irene Wurtzel take the lead for the Commission in working with Marie. And those of us who wanted to help would do it through Irene, nobody should have to deal with nine or eleven people at a time. If Irene could work with Marie on that, and Beth has said she would make resources available.

Irene Wurtzel: Iíd be delighted.

LaDonna Harris: And this complements one of the things we have taken on, which is how do we join in the pop culture of the United States, so that it becomes almost immediate, rather than just the scholarly and public broadcasting.

Irene Wurtzel: And I think we should include Molly in this because she has all of the materials that we can draw on as well. So I think that we have the basis of a group that can start thinking about how to put this together.

LaDonna Harris: Weíve complemented our Park Service person, as we should. Have we done enough with Archives, are there other groups like the Library of Congress that we might prime like our collaboration with the Park Service has helped us? We should ask the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian to do a display during our celebration in Washington. We could have other institutions like that possibly prepare a traveling show from each of those agencies that could go around the country.

Ann Lewis: Should we ask the Library of Congress if they would like to come testify and tell us anything that they have been doing, why donít we do that? And maybe some of the other agencies, it might give them another opportunity in March to come and tell us some of the good things that they have been doing. And the Smithsonian.

Ann Gordon: I would just add that the National Endowment for the Humanities might be asked. If they are praised and recognized, it helps.

Audience Member: Iím representing the Christian Science Church today, of course our founder was a woman who also created the Christian Science Publishing Society, The Christian Science Monitor is still in publication. We have a major exhibit in Seneca Falls. But something I would like to note, is that the National Park Service is an already existing national venue. We found the Park Service to be remarkably receptive to learning about a major woman who had been underwritten in this country. And when you go in there and you have these men coming out explaining the life of Mary Baker Eddy, and they really know this woman, it was just an example of an institution that we already have available to us that has proved the receptivity to learning womenís history, and then making it known to others.

LaDonna Harris: I think we should be very creative. I am remembering now that the Smithsonian got funding for their horse exhibit from Ford Motor Company, because of the Mustang. You have to go a long way, but you have to be creative in making the connection. And in New Mexico, we make it tri-cultural: we had the Indian, the Spanish and the Cowboy using the horse. Just thinking on how to make your pop-up book accessible to larger numbers of people.

Bridget OíFarrell: Maybe you could invite the Kennedy Center, the poet laureate, the arts people, to talk about their film programs as well as their theater productions, to see if they have thought about doing something to celebrate womenís history.

Ann Lewis: Molly MacGregor has felt that a celebration at the Kennedy Center is the appropriate way. You should know that after she raised this, Beth had conversations and was told that a year and a half would be a short timetable for the kind of event that weíre talking about. But we do hope that weíve got it in their pipeline. We should think about the artistic community.

Let me go back for a moment for all of us. Hereís what I think weíve got for March right now. Two days, with the 4pm reception on March 22nd in Statuary Hall, and the following day weíve been thinking would be our Commission meeting. And that evening of the 23rd is a reception at the Sewall-Belmont House. So we would think of the day of the 23rd for our Commission meeting, that would also be the day that we unveil the plaque at the Clara Barton House. I wanted to cut a roll of gauze, and Beth told me that was a little tacky, but we might wrap the plaque in gauze. And we will be unveiling the Commissionís gift to the nation, which will be our brochure of womenís history sights in Washington, so that the families will go to the Mary Bethune House, they can someday go to the Clara Barton House and the Eleanor Roosevelt statue.

It seems that the more we can pack into those two days, the better our chances of breaking through, so ideas are welcome. We would hope that we can do a little tour, and youíre going to do a tour on the 23rd?

Molly MacGregor: Weíre going to do a tour on the 23rd from one to five, and weíll end up at the Sewall-Belmont House. Allida will speak at Eleanor Rooseveltís statue, and weíre hoping that Brigadier General Vaught, who worked so hard to have the Womenís War Memorial, will speak.

Beth Newburger: I will send you our book in its draft form.

An audience member offered a preexisting Mary Baker Eddy exhibit that was on display at the National Press Club. She offered to make it available for those days.

Ann Lewis: For the purposes of a brochure, we are looking for permanent sites. We donít want to put anything in there that may not be there six months from now, thereís enough distrust of government as it is. We just donít want to add to it if we can help it. But there are other ways that we can and should make information available. So I trust that you will get that information to Beth.

We will meet again in March, on the 22nd and 23rd. Again, all of you are welcome to keep coming and joining us. This meeting is adjourned, thank you all very much.

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Martha Davis can be contacted by e-mail at martha.davis@gsa.gov or by phone at (202)501-0705

Minutes to other Commission Meetings:

Minutes of the July 16, 1998 meeting

Minutes of the September 25, 1998 meeting

Minutes of the October 14, 1998 meeting

Minutes of the October 19 - 20, 1998 meeting

Minutes of the first day of the November 12-13, 1998 meeting

Minutes of the second day of the November 12-13, 1998 meeting