March is Women’s History Month, which is designated as a time to learn and reflect on the often-overlooked contributions of women to United States history. The timeline of women’s history milestones stretches back to the founding of the United States, including Abigail Adams, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Laura Smith Haviland, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks and Sally Ride.
Sonoma, California is where the celebration of Women’s History Month grew out of a weeklong celebration of women’s contributions to culture, history and society organized by the school district in 1978. Presentations were given at dozens of schools with hundreds of students participated in a “Real Woman” essay contest. A parade commemorating the week was held in Santa Rosa.
Across the country a few years later, the idea had caught on within school districts, community organizations and local governments choosing to host similar celebrations. President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980 as National Women’s History Week. In 1981, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution establishing a national celebration and six years later, the National Women’s History Project successfully petitioned Congress to expand the event to the entire month of March.