Opening in spring 2015, a new online project called Wisconsin Women Making History will share the stories and accomplishments of Wisconsin women who, for various reasons, are less known or acknowledged than they should be. Through video, photography, and other media, the Wisconsin Women Making History website provides students and lifelong learners a way to advocate, connect, and empower women, girls, and their allies across the state to celebrate the women who have transformed our state and lives for the better.
“Wisconsin women have historically stepped into leadership roles, worked to improve their communities, and [been] innovat[ors] in science, the arts, business and governance, yet their stories are often left untold,” says project coordinator Lynne Blinkenberg, who is also Wisconsin Public Television’s (WPT) director of community engagement. “Through [video and other media], the Wisconsin Women Making History website brings to life the stories of women and girls often overlooked in Wisconsin history.”
The Wisconsin Women Making History project emerged from a national, multiyear PBS/Independent Television Service (home of the Emmy-winning Independent Lens series) initiative called Women and Girls Lead, which explored through documentary film how women and girls—even when lacking equal opportunity—can become leaders in business, the arts, science, and politics.
So much good will was amassed around Women and Girls Lead, that project partners began pooling resources and sharing ideas in the hope of creating a new, searchable database that honored Wisconsin women history makers.
The Women’s Studies Consortium, in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, drew upon its multi-institutional educational network to bring together a statewide consulting committee of scholars, educators, and historians to review and recommend nominees. WPT, Wisconsin Public Radio, and the Wisconsin Humanities Council offered narratives from their vast collections of stories by and about Wisconsin women of note, and the Wisconsin Historical Society came up with a treasury of historic photos from their archives. The Wisconsin Educational Media Lab provided advice and support for how to best use the materials in classrooms. The Office of the UW System’s Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian worked on editing content, and will be the host for the website. With WPT in the lead, collaborating partners contributed the time of staff, student researchers, and interns toward developing content and designing the new website.
Blinkenburg says that, with new women being added regularly, the online Wisconsin Women Making History database is always evolving. Too, she notes Wisconsin schools and communities can also nominate their own history makers for consideration and help expand access to and information about the women who have made—and continue to make—our state great.