Explore Women's History

By Kristina Schulz

During Women’s History Month every March, we celebrate the struggles and achievements of American women throughout the history of the United States. A 1981 presidential proclamation established the first Women’s History Week (March 7-13, 1982), and six years later, Congress dedicated the entire month to women’s history. Legislative and executive branch documents in support of Women’s History Month can be found at the Library of Congress website; UD has many resources as well.

Explore Primary Resources

University Archives and Special Collections has preserved collections that document the contributions of women to the campus. Located in Albert Emanuel Hall, University Archives has the records of the College of Women, the Bette Rogge Morse Collection, and the papers of Eileen Sears. Each of these collections holds a unique story about women who made a difference in Dayton and the University community.  

  • College of Women: Thirty-one women made up the first class of the College of Women in 1935, with nine completing four years of study to earn their bachelor’s degrees in 1939. These trailblazers created a path for women at UD to participate in academics, athletics, clubs and more.
  • Bette Rogge Morse: Bette Rogge Morse earned a degree in communications from UD in 1944. She was a local radio and television personality with WHIO beginning in the 1950s. Selected interviews are available on eCommons, UD’s open-access institutional repository. Morse taught communications at UD in the mid-1970s and was one of the first women to serve on the University’s Board of Trustees.  
  • Eileen Sears: Eileen Sears was a music and physical education instructor at UD from 1944 to 1947. She directed the student union in the 1950s and worked with longtime music professor Maurice Reichard to stage a Christmas pageant on campus. In 1992, she and her husband contributed $1.3 million for the construction of the Sears Recital Hall in the Humanities Building. They also endowed the H. Troy and Eileen L. Sears Scholarship Fund.

Films on Kanopy

Kanopy, an on-demand streaming video service for public libraries and educational institutions, has put together a list of documentaries that reflect women’s achievements. Here’s a sampling:

  • Miss Representation (2011): Through interviews with prominent figures in politics, media and entertainment, including Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, and Rosario Dawson, Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s thought-provoking documentary provides a comprehensive look at the underrepresentation of women in mainstream media and calls for change.
  • Half the Picture (2018): This documentary asks an essential question of the film industry: Why are there so few women film directors working today? Filmmaker Amy Adrion shines an informative light on systemic discrimination in Hollywood while offering an inspiring celebration of the groundbreaking work of female directors.
  • Anita: Speaking Truth to Power (2014): In a history lesson that continues to resonate today, Freida Lee Mock explores Anita Hill’s 1991 Senate testimony about sexual harassment during the confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and offers an inspiring look at the woman whose courage and resolve helped inform a national dialogue.

Leisure reading

Explore UD’s leisure reading collection on the second floor of Roesch Library to find these and many other fiction and nonfiction works by and about women.

  • Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger (Rebecca Traister): In 2018, women’s anger erupted into the public conversation. But long before Pantsuit Nation, before the Women’s March, and before the #MeToo movement, women’s anger was not only politically catalytic — but politically problematic. The story of female fury’s cultural significance demonstrates the long history of resentment that has enshrouded women’s slow rise to political power in America. The book also explores the ways anger is received when it comes from women as opposed to when it comes from men. Highlighting a double standard and its stultifying effect, Traister offers a glimpse into the galvanizing force of women’s collective anger, which, when harnessed, can change history. Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39939208-good-and-mad
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life (Jane Sherron De Hart): Jane De Hart explores the central experiences that shaped U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's passion for justice, her advocacy for gender equality, her meticulous jurisprudence, her desire to make “We the People” more united and the union more perfect. Her profound mark on American jurisprudence, on American society, on American character and spirit will reverberate deep into the 21st century and beyond. Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38395059-ruth-bader-ginsburg


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