The First Step for Putting Women Back in History
By Sarah Ford on June 10, 2015
Gerda Lerner, a pioneering scholar of women’s history, looked back on several decades of research in women’s history and divided it into four phases, each building on the other to reach a complex understanding of the history of women. Lerner saw historians of the 1960s doing what she called “compensatory history" -- that is, looking for women and inserting them into male-dominated history. She compared historians of that period to Diogenes with his lantern, seeking simply to find the women.
Today, many historic sites are still wandering with their lanterns, trying to find the women’s stories represented there. Here are some suggestions to help you illuminate the lives of women at a historic place that matters to you, whether it is a historic site or your own home.
Every single historic site is a women’s history site -- including the ones you don’t think are. If you think not, look again, and think about what prejudices you might bring to the process. Consider these examples: