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Celebrate Women’s History Month with NEH

March 23, 2024

You’re probably familiar with influential women like First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But what about Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in America to receive a medical degree; Hannah Crafts, an escaped slave who became the country’s first Black female novelist; or the Indigenous woman known as “La Malinche,” who was at the heart of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico?

The stories of these remarkable women and many more can be found in books, documentaries, and other resources funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Together, they provide a robust bookshelf and watchlist for Women’s History Month.

One highlighted project includes a segment sponsored by the South Dakota Humanities Council exploring the life of Zitkala-Ša, a Yankton Dakota writer, editor, translator, musician, educator, and political activist. She is featured in UNLADYLIKE2020, an NEH-funded multimedia series and PBS American Experience documentary that illuminates the inspiring stories of 26 American women who forged new paths across the fields of science, business, aviation, journalism, politics, medicine, exploration, and the arts.

In UNLADYLIKE2020, short online documentaries examine the lives of women such as Bessie Coleman, the first African American to earn an international pilot’s license; Susan La Flesche Picotte, the country’s first Native American physician who also founded the first privately funded hospital on an American Indian reservation; Jeanette Rankin, the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress; and Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim across the English Channel. Find free lesson plans about the women featured in the series at PBS Learning Media.

Another project of special interest to South Dakotans is Laura Ingalls Wilder: Prairie to Page, the story of the beloved children’s writer who spent some of her formative years in De Smet. This NEH-funded documentary offers an unvarnished look at the unlikely author whose autobiographical fiction helped shape American ideas of the frontier and self-reliance. A Midwestern farm woman who published her first novel at age 65, Laura Ingalls Wilder transformed her childhood into the best-selling Little House series. Watch the film streaming online at PBS’s American Masters.

To curate your own Women’s History Month celebration, browse the NEH Virtual Bookshelf here.

Learn more about humanities programming in South Dakota by signing up for SDHC e-Updates!