As the global economy improved and restructured, women’s impact on public life dramatically increased. However, old stereotypes die slowly. Some prominent women of the past who deserve historical recognition were recorded as footnotes in the biographies of their husbands or were not documented at all.
Interestingly, the inequalities of the past influence the digital world of today. Many histories of Washington State were written before discrimination towards women decreased. In recent years, much of this inequity has been corrected in books and movies—but not online.
There are two reasons for this paradox. First, many male-focused histories that were published in the 1920s or earlier have passed into public domain, and their copyrights have expired. As a consequence, non-profits such as the Wenard Institute, various internet archives, or commercial Google-Books-like projects can legally digitize and publish that old material online in its entirety. But most books dealing with women’s contributions were published after the 1960s and cannot be made available online as easily. This has significant impact, as Wikipedia articles are generally based on online sources.
Secondly, the organized effort of the academic world to complete history with women’s stories often resulted in women-only material, leading to the separate subject of “women studies.” Ironically, this dedication delayed the integration of women’s history into larger historical viewpoints. Often, online content creators tend to write “quick and dirty” blogs, posts, or online articles. They rush to post historical information from fewer and more obvious sources rather than dive deeply and include material from “women’s studies.”
At Wenard, we want to address the resulting imbalances in our understanding of history. Our consistent, dedicated sweeps of relevant, recently published materials guide us to fill the gaps in the history of Washington State. For example, we recently donated articles to Wikipedia about the underrated women of Washington who never had digital presence in Wikipedia before:
Mary M. Knight
Ida Soule Kuhn
Julia Cornelia Slaughter
Please support our efforts. Your single, small gift can bring one more woman of Washington from obscurity into today’s online world. Donate