The Origins of Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month is a celebration of the contributions women have made to the growth of our country from the very beginning to the present.

From Abigail Adam’s March 31, 1776 letter to her husband John Adams asking him to not forget the ladies when the Continental Congress was working towards forming a government for the colonies, to the Seneca Falls Convention organized by women that led to the 19th Amendment granting women (but not all) the right to vote, from abolitionists, equal rights activists, medical and scientific pioneers, political and legal barrier breakers, to Kamala Harris, our first female Vice President, women have helped shape our nation.

Women’s History Month started on March 8,1978,  the same day as International Women’s Day, as a weeklong celebration when Santa Rosa, California ‘s  Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women created “Women’s History Week”. That idea quickly spread and the next year many communities across the nation held similar observances.

By 1980 the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women’s History Alliance) lobbied for national recognition and by 1980 President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. Subsequent resolutions were passed over the years, making it a month long observance in 1994. Since 1995 each president has proclaimed March as Women’s History Month.

The annual theme is chosen by the National Women’s History Alliance. In 2020,ValiantWomen of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced was selected to honor the centennial of the ratification of the 10th Amendment  but the pandemic cut it short so the same theme was used in 2021. This year’s theme, Providing Healing/Promoting Health, honors care givers and frontline workers as well as women of all cultures whose dedication to well -being have provided healing and comfort to those in need. Today, both these issues are critically important to everyone and to maintaining the strength of our nation, and it is equally important to remember the cultural and societal contributions women have made.

To read Abigail Adams letter to John Adams:

For a chronological review of Women’s History Milestones:

President Carter’s message on proclaiming Women’s History Month:

For more on this year’s theme: