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Maloney wages fight to establish women’s history museum in Washington

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney testifies at a House hearing on their bill to set up a commission to study establishing a museum dedicated to the accomplishments of women in U.S. history. Photo courtesy Congresswoman Maloney's office

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Women are woefully under-represented when it comes to listing the accomplishments of great Americans in history books, according to U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who is working on a bipartisan effort to establish a national museum focusing on the role played by females in making America what it is today.

Maloney (D-Manhattan-Brooklyn) sponsored legislation with U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) that would take a first step toward building a museum. The bill would establish a commission to study the best way to build a museum dedicated to women’s history.

“Whether you’re reading a history text book or visiting our nation’s historic sites and the museums on our national mall, women are largely missing. While the historical experiences of men are well represented in existing museums, women’s achievements are often omitted,” said Maloney, whose congressional district includes Greenpoint.

“The fact is that women played key roles in virtually every landmark event in our history. A National Women’s History Museum would help restore the balance by presenting their amazing narratives and highlighting the important contributions of the women who shaped our nation,” Maloney said.

The museum’s advocates are hoping it will be built on or near the National Mall in Washington DC.

A museum focusing on the great women in American history would serve to educate the public and inspire future generations, according to Blackburn.

“The legacies of women who paved the way before us and helped shape our nation deserve to be preserved and shared with our citizens. It is my hope that by sharing these stories we can inspire future generations by illustrating how bravery, patriotism and perseverance can truly make a difference. We would not have the freedom and opportunity that we have today without the sacrifices of many women who have broken with the societal norms of their day to stand for freedom,” Blackburn said.

Blackburn added that the museum wouldn’t cost taxpayers money since it would be funded entirely through private donations, including donations from “many of those from women who seek to share the importance of women to our nation’s founding.”

Joan Wages, president and CEO of the National Women’s History Museum Inc., a non-profit organization established to advocate for the museum, said it makes sense to have a museum dedicated to the accomplishments of women, who after all represent 51 percent of the population.

“A museum established under the auspices of this commission would be the first in any nation to show the full scope of the history of its women; thereby serving as a beacon to people everywhere and further testament that America is truly a nation of liberty and justice for all,” Wages said.

Maloney, Blackburn and Wages testified at a hearing of the House Committee on Administration on Dec 11.

The Maloney-Blackburn bill has 44 co-sponsors in the House. U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) have introduced a companion measure in the Senate.

Of the 210 statues in the US Capitol, only 13 are of female leaders. Fewer than five percent of the 2,400 national historic landmarks chronicle women's achievements and a recent survey of 18 history textbooks found that only 10 percent of the individuals identified in the text were women, Maloney said.   

The National Women’s History Museum would change that, according to Maloney, who said the facility would tell the fascinating, yet mostly untold stories of important women in American History.

Among the women whose stories would likely be featured in the museum: Agent 355, the mysterious woman who sent vital information to General Washington during the Revolutionary War; and Hedy Lamarr, the glamorous Hollywood star who invented a radio-guided torpedo that contained the technology that gave rise to the cell phone, Wi-Fi and GPS.

 

December 18, 2013 - 10:30am


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