Several years ago, when I was working on a project to compile 19th century Utah schoolteachers' narratives in a book, I found this quote from noted scholar Carolyn Heilbrun: "Women in the past have a dreadful tendency to disappear in a cloud of anonymity and silence."
Heilbrun felt that it was important to recover their voices and stories. I was also inspired by other scholars already at work recovering the voices and stories of Utah women: Claudia Bushman, Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, Lavina Fielding Anderson, Carol Cornwall Madsen. I learned about important women in Utah's history: Emmeline B. Wells, editor of The Woman's Exponent and friend to Susan B. Anthony; Martha Hughes Cannon, physician and senator, the first woman in the U.S. to be elected to a state senate; Amy Brown Lyman, student of Jane Addams at Hull House, who drew on the experience to develop social programs for Utah women.
Sadly, women are largely missing from American history. A review of 18 U.S. history textbooks showed that only 10 percent of the individuals discussed are women; of America's 2,400 national historic landmarks, fewer than 8 percent are devoted to the accomplishments of women; and only 13 of the 217 statues in the U.S. Capitol represent women. As Women's Equality Day the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the vote approaches, there is an opportunity to change that. A National Women's History Museum in Washington, D.C., is closer than ever to passage, fueled by bipartisan legislation.