Nearly two in three American adults (62 percent) say it is "extremely" or "very" important for people to learn about women in U.S. history, while three in four (76 percent) believe it is "extremely" or "very" important for national parks, monuments, and historic sites to teach people about history, a report from the National Park Foundation finds.
Based on an online survey of a thousand U.S. adults conducted in February 2020, the report, Women in Parks: Key Findings From a National Online Survey of Adults (8 pages, PDF), found that 64 percent of respondents say they wish they had been taught more about women in U.S. history, while 60 percent say they would earn a C or lower if they were tested on the subject. The survey also found that a majority of respondents believe it is "extremely" or "very" important for national parks, monuments, and historic sites to connect people to history (74 percent), in addition to preserving public lands for future generations (81 percent) and connecting children to nature and the outdoors (77 percent).
To address the educational gap with respect to women in U.S history, the foundation awarded twenty-three grants totaling $460,000 through its Women in Parks initiative, an effort launched in 2019 with leadership gifts from the John G. and Jean R. Gosnell Foundation and others to mark the hundredth anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. The grants will be used to help connect people with stories of women's contributions to history through physical and digital park exhibits, guided walks, talks and special events, videos, podcasts, and webinars.
Funded projects include efforts at the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument (Washington, D.C.) to preserve the National Woman's Party's collections of more than twenty-two hundred objects linked to stories about women advocating for equality; a project of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument (Alabama) to develop educational materials about the life of Carrie A. Tuggle, a prominent civil rights activist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur; efforts at the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (Colorado) to record oral histories from Northern Arapaho women that will be featured in online content; a research project at the César E. Chávez National Monument (California) to document the experiences of Mexican, Filipina, and Chicana women farm workers; and the Suffragist Stories Project, which will create an online story map and comprehensive archival GIS site mapping the social networks of the women's suffrage movement.
"The National Park Service offers unique opportunities to learn about women's important contributions and how even their silent and diverse everyday lives formed the foundations of America," said National Park Service chief historian Turkiya Lowe. "Parks are spaces to ask complex questions about the history of the United States, including, 'Did all women obtain full voting rights after the passage of the nineteenth amendment?' 'And, if not, which women and where?'"
(Photo credit: Geoff Livingston via National Park Foundation)