President’s Commission on the Celebration of Women

In American History

June 6, 2000


The ninth meeting of the President’s Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History was held at 9:00 a.m. on June 6, 2000 at the U.S. Custom House, #1 Bowling Green, New York, 10005.


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 Designated Federal Official

Dr. Johnetta Cole

Dr. Barbara Goldsmith

Dr. Ellen Ochoa

LaDonna Harris

Gloria Johnson

Irene Wurtzel

In addition to members of the public in attendance, Martha Davis from the General Services Administration and Dwana Makeba, recorder from Atlanta, GA

Call to Order
Ann Lewis:

Goals for the Commission

      1. What is the future of the Commission?
      2. What project can be put in place to celebrate Women’s History?

Commission Projects Report
Beth Newburger

*Ten Ways to support women’s history in Your Communities:

      1. Establish historical sites for women.
      2. Establish a publication "Women’s History Trails in Washington, DC"

-Establish an annual awards ceremony for Women in American History to be held at the Kennedy Center.

-Discovered site --The Clara Barton missing soldiers office archives her work of 20,000 soldiers at the end of the Civil War. This was dedicated as a part of the Women’s History Trail.

-The site was dedicated as a site as a result of the March meeting.

-The City of Washington, DC is publishing 100,000 copies of the publication.

-December 31, 2000 will be the end of the term for the Commission. A black tie gala will be held on November 15, 2000 at George Washington University. All contributors, academics will announce the final report of the status of the Commission.

-Members are encouraged to think about invitation lists. Save the date cards to go out on the 14th are available.

Other Projects

-Establishing an awards program to honor women of both the past and present.

-More recognition needs to be given to the National Women’s Hall of Fame

Speaker, Catherine Stimpson

Suggestions for the Commission:

      1. The Commission should focus more on Women in the Arts such as
      2. dancers, writers, musicians, singers, folklorists, and humanitarians.

      3. Artists such as Ann Bradstreet, Phyllis Wheatley, Charlotte Rovson, Toni Morrison, ministers, editors, and archivists must be remembered as catalysts in Women’s History.
      4. Keep the focus on Women’s Studies both nationally and internationally.

4. Acknowledge women as Culture Bearers.

Speaker, Molly Murphy MacGregor

-Women’s equality day is August 26 or 28, which is the day that Women won the right to vote.

-The celebration itself will be moved to March. The celebration will include students and be available on the Word Wide Web.

-Web sites bring a particular audience and build up anticipation.

-The Kennedy Center could be used as a focal point.

-Ask young people to engage in the development process.

-Use the media make the event interactive. Use 1 minute to 90-second spots to be simultaneously online.

Question presented by Dr. Ellen Ochoa

· How will we engage boys and men?

· Answer: Alan Aida will be invited for his contributions to women’s history.

Speaker, Elizabeth Hubbard

-Holiday should honor Eleanor Roosevelt

-Attention should be focused on making young professional women aware of National Women’s Month.

-There should also be a mentoring program geared toward young professional women.

-A forum should be created to promote young women and networking connections

-There should also be more diverse and inclusive historical events




Allida Black

Ways the Commission can be institutionalized to raise money:

-Create a seed pool of money for operating expenses for grants proposals.

-Help women achieve dreams without putting their "eggs in one basket".

-Call on friends to come up with creative ways to fund outreach activities

Eleanor Goggenheimer, Chair of New York’s Women’s Agenda

-Women must come together and support each other financially, mentally, and emotionally.

-Women must fight the Queen Bee syndrome and let other women into the hive.

-The strength of our country is to mobilize the strength, knowledge, and lifestyles of the women before our time.

Robin Payne

-Girl Scouts USA-the remembrance of women who nurtured girls to become great leaders.

Dr. Johnetta Cole

-An openness to the moment. Women must think globally and act locally. Eleanor Roosevelt insisted that human rights become personal. Women must localize themselves as well as mentor our young women and girls.

Dr. Barbara Goldsmith

-A real focus on life’s devotion is making Women’s history come alive and present the struggle of women.

-The focus on human rights can be made through media agitation.

Beth Newburger

-National Awards Show

-Women’s pop-up book

Dr. Johnetta Cole

-Underlying the principles that have guided the commission. The Commission must always acknowledge diversity and the totality of womanhood.

Dr. Ellen Ochoa

-How does the history connect the future? One ways is to get school kids involved and create events geared towards this.

Irene Wurtzel

Ways to think locally:

-Project forward, include youth, and don’t forget elderly women.

-What ways can the Awards program recommend women for the National Women’s Hall of Fame Presidential Women’s History Award. Do we have the National Hall of fame as jurors?

Dr. Goldmith

Possibility not. Use people from other organizations.

Dr. Ochoa

-Invite national women to help establish a juror’s process.

Make recommendations for Presidential award that is independent of another organization. All awards given by the President should consist of women who did extraordinary things.

-They should also focus on women of the past, present, and women making strides emphasis of the past and present.

Dr. Wurtzel

-Our task is to celebrate women’s history and women of the past.

Dr. Cole

-Tomorrow’s women history should be consistent with categories named for women of the past. We should try to continue to reach beyond ourselves. We should consider the thoughts of women all over the country. Generate a letter concerning the history of women.

Afternoon Session

Beth Newburger

-Are there guidelines of no more the 5 women historical figures prior to 1950? Who should do the screening/judging? The judging process should be made objective.

-Suggestion: Rotate judges

Marilyn Bero

-The President, committees, academicians, and historians to make information accurate.

Suggestions for judge—Leontyne Kelly- the first African American woman bishop.


Irene Wurtzel

Publicity should be national coverage.

Lynn Rollins

-1998-The 150 year celebration of Seneca Falls

-Conducted feasibility study. The response was women wanted to know their history, which included leadership skills, financial planning, and how to take care of themselves. 2006 should be the target date and Battery Park is the site with Ralph Applebaum as the exhibiting designer.

Merideth Wagner

-Lifetime is a cable station geared towards women.

Beth Newburger

-Questions whether lifetime would be interested in airing the Awards Show.

Paula Mackenzie

Suggestion for airing: Internet site-

Beth Newburger

The Commission should continue to look at ourselves as a separate entity. Lifetime TV wants to participate. The first two years could be a financial loss, but the third year could be a financial gain. It would be televised from the Kennedy Center, with a production team out of L.A. Public Relations will be out of NY. Target date is March 2001. The most difficult challenge will be program content.

Dr. Cole

Suggestion: The White House could be used as a site.

Irene Wurtzel

-We are not trying to duplicate another show.

Dr. Ochoa

-Kids should participate and present the history.

Dr. Cole

-Perhaps we should create proposals and ideas for what the show would look like.

Beth Newburger

-We should find a creative spark—a person who wants to be involved.


The discussion changes towards pop-up book

Dr. Cole

-Does mass distribution cause fundraising incapability?

Irene Wurtzel

-It’s possible because it’s alluring to those beyond the target market.

Dr. Goldsmith

-We should not limit recommendations to one site or one book. A short series on great Americans and Black history geared towards young people.

Dr. Ochoa

-What materials would be included?

Beth Newburger

Suggestions: Target age, late elementary, early junior high, a video, political buttons. The book should be in the shape of a backpack.

Irene Wurtzel

-Molly can be a resource for those who have sold well.

Dr. Ochoa

-Women can include some information about themselves when they were young and what they grew to become.

Other Ideas for Final Report

Dr. Ochoa

-Highlight upcoming events on web site. Create links to other sites.

Beth Newburger

-Suggest to the President to house the web site.

Dr. Cole

-The Final report needs to address the funding problem, education, and seed money to launch ideas, and web site development.

Beth Newburger

-We should look at issues from past notes.

Jaqueline Span

-Suggesstions: Build schools in S. Africa, hire an entertainment company for the awards show, show film clips, young women should introduce those who are going to receive the award. The book should also be on web site, and a comic book should be created to present women’s history. T-shirts and caps may help raise funds. A yearbook with pictures can be given to the President in the final report as a handout.

Allida Black

-Julie Teymor of the Lion King can be an invitee for ideas about the awards show. Coloring books for children could also be a cost-effective effort. We need a full-time person to maintain the web site. Suggest the Library of Congress to create web site and IBM to fund it.

Beth Newburger

-Suggestion: Create something like the HBO animated series. A superwoman character who travels through history, which would educate children about women.

Wrap Up