Introduction

Women’s history is American history. Too often, though, it is the left-out part, appearing only now and then in familiar profiles and at predictable high points. But women, despite legal and cultural barriers, have been actively engaged in every phase of the nation’s history. Some were firebrands, some were intellectuals, and some were ordinary people just going about their lives.

Over the last half-century, scholars have brought more and more of their stories into the foreground. The New-York Historical Society’s Center for Women’s History continues and expands on this essential work as the nation’s first permanent public exhibition and educational center dedicated to women’s history.

Women & the American Story, or WAMS for short, is the educators’ companion to the Center for Women’s History, addressing a difficulty that teachers have long encountered in their classrooms: the scarcity of material to bring women’s stories into the mainstream history curriculum.

Units

The planned ten units of Women & the American Story are divided thematically and chronologically to align with social studies curriculum standards from across the country. In each case, units are bookended by significant moments in American and women’s history. This is an ongoing project: two units will be released each fall until the survey is complete.

Explore current and preview forthcoming units below!

Highlights women’s narratives in the early colonial period, focusing on the lives and experiences of Native American, African, and European women who encountered one another on America’s shores.

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Nicolás Enríquez de Vargas, Portrait of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz,
ca. 1750. Oil on canvas. Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City.

Looks at the ways women’s roles evolved in 18th century English, French, and Spanish colonial societies up through the crisis of the American Revolution.

Coming in 2019!

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Explores the foundation of the new nation, how women’s rights were suppressed in the formation of the new government, and how women were central to the formation of the new American identity.

Coming in 2021!

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Examines what Westward Expansion meant to the diverse women living within and outside of the expanding nation’s borders, how women responded to the burgeoning immigration debate, and the roles women played in the early years of the Industrial Revolution.

Coming in 2022!

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Delves into the ways women participated in all aspects of the Civil War and on both sides, from the early debate over the expansion of slavery through Reconstruction.

Coming in 2020!

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Considers women’s rights at the end of the 19th century as the nation redefined the boundaries and privileges of citizenship.

Coming in 2021!

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Focuses on women’s lives at the turn of the 20th century, considering themes of progressivism, immigration, suffrage, and industrialization in order to emphasize the broad range of experiences for women of this era.

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Explores dramatic shifts in women’s roles from the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the dawn of the post-war era.

Coming in 2019!

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Growth and Turmoil, 1948-1973 considers how women of diverse backgrounds contributed to and were shaped by an era of escalating political activism and rapidly shifting social norms. This unit will cover the years between the dawn of the Cold War through the landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

Coming in 2020!

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Looks at the experiences of women as technology, globalization, and increasingly polarized politics shaped the nation.

Coming in 2022!

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Themes

Women have always been engaged in every aspect of society. Explore resources by theme to discover new angles on traditional histories.