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The Link Librarian

by Gayla Thorsen

Women In History

So, you think you know your history? Try answering these questions:
 
1) Who went around the world in less than 80 days?
2) Who made an 8,000-mile trip while carrying a baby on her back?
3) Who invented Liquid Paper®?
 
The answers are all women! 1) Nellie Bly; 2) Sacajawea; 3) Bette Nesmith Graham
 
For those who are tired of studying the same old names in American history - usually all men - this article is for you.
 
"Scholastic Encyclopedia of Women in the United States" by Sheila Keenan lists over 250 women who have shaped U.S. history. This 206-page reference book from Scholastic has a table of contents, two indices and a section on how to use this book. Outlined in chronological order from the 1500s to the 1990s; you will read short biographies of women in these different fields: Arts/Entertainment; Business/Labor; Education; Media; Military; Politics/Law; Reform/Social Service; Religion; Sciences/Math and Sports.
 
There is also a short report on what was happening in the country during certain periods of time. Some titles are "Growth and Conflict" for 1800-1880s and "Hard Times, Tough Choices" for the 1930s and '40s era. With pictures on every page and sidebars, this book will be easy for students to enjoy and use in their research. Since the biographies are short, simply pick the woman's name you want to learn more about and head to the library.
 
Another interesting book I found from Scholastic is entitled "Ten Women Who Helped Shape America - Short Plays in the Classroom", edited by Sarah Glasscock. This 96-page paperback for grades 4-8 (but can be adapted to other grades) contains ten 3-act plays about women who were born before the Civil War. What a great way to learn how these women felt and the obstacles they had to overcome! The women are Francisca Hinestrosa, Pocahontas, Anne Hutchinson, Daughters of Liberty, Nancy Ward, Elizabeth Blackwell, Lucy Stone, Ellen Craft, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Hawaii's last queen, Queen Liliuokalani.
 
There is a two-page Teacher's Guide section after each play, containing a brief biography, a list of reference books for further reading and six activities for the students to enlarge on their knowledge of these women.
 
"Women's History Month Guide" can be requested by the Newspaper In Education Program by calling 800/432-7964. This booklet has 45 different women featured with an activity corresponding with the woman's achievements.
 
To get the Women In Science Resource kit called "Wiskit", write to The Ohio Academy of Science, 1500 W. Third Ave., Ste. 223, Columbus, OH 43212-2817. With 50 pages, it's packed with lots of reference articles on teaching math with girls in mind, and profiles two or three women. One is a mechanical engineer and the others are physicians. Several reproducible pages for the students feature words to know, ideas for writing, ideas for projects and content quizzes. This booklet was printed in 1990, so hopefully it's still available for free, by request.
 
For a free catalog on Women's teaching units, posters, books, videos and other classroom materials, write or call National Women's History Project, 7738 Bell Road, Windsor, CA 95942-8518; phone number is: 707/838-6000; or e-mail nwhp@aol.com and check the website at www.nwhp.org
 
The National Women's Hall of Fame offers poster and essay contests. Write to them at POB 335-76, Fall Street, Seneca Falls, NY 14148. Their website is www.greatwomen.org
 
I also found some great reproducible sheets written in the teacher's magazine called "Instructor" celebrating Women's History Month. In the March, 1999 issue is a Cyberhunt. A chart listing ten questions about women's achievements also gives the web address to refer to for the answer. Some sample questions: What everyday tool did Lyda Newman invent in 1898? How did Lucy Stone make history in 1855? An answer key is provided on a separate page.
 
In the March, 2000, issue of "Instructor" on page 96 is another Cyberhunt reproducible page, listing nine questions and websites. Some sample questions are: For what was Elizabeth Blackwell famous? Who was the first African-American woman to travel in space? You may want to keep the website list for future reference.
 
Here's something I sent for, which you may find useful, "Eighty Books for 21st Century Girls." Members of the Women's National Book Association throughout the United States picked out their favorite titles and compiled this four-page leaflet. Check their website on how to get your own copy. If my memory serves me, I had to send a long SASE to get my list, but it might be posted on their website by now. Their phone number is 212/675-7805. Their website is: http://bookbuzz.com/wnba.html. Their national office is at 160 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
 
Another possible source about women in history is under your state history. We found some wonderful first-person accounts about life in our state (Maine) during the early 1800 to 1900s. One item we came across was a journal written by a sea captain's wife during her adventures at sea with her husband. Every library has a section devoted to state history and other resources on your states, so check it out for some great reading!
 
The "Dear America" journal books are a big hit for the younger set. You can even join a book club and get the books delivered to your home. They include a box for your journal and little kits and newsletters corresponding to the book. We got ours through the Scholastic Book Clubs. Contact Scholastic for details.

From Our Readers

Charlotte from Texas sent me the titles of two books her mother gave her and wanted to share with us: "We Can Fly" by Mary Beth Rogers, Sherry A. Smith and Janelle D. Scott and "The Gentle Tamers" by Dee Brown.
 
Robin highly recommends this title about women in history: "Great Women in American History" by Rebecca Price Janney.
 
Karolyn (via e-mail) found a fantastic source for studying women's history in the United States. It is a collection of 11 volumes called "The Oxford Young Person's History of Women in the United States." It was published in 1995 and can be found at bookstores. She says that each volume deals with a different period in our history with original documentation and photographs. Apparently, it's written in a readable style, since Karolyn's five-year-old sister enjoys having portions read to her.
 
Here is a website Karolyn sent: http://www.forham.edu/halsall/women/womensbook.html
 
Thank you, Charlotte, Robin and Karolyn. I am sure our readers appreciate your recommendations. Keep your suggestions coming! And let us know how you enjoyed these books. If you want to send in a short book review for this column, please see my addresses below.

Book Drawing

Our free book drawing is still on! The deadline will be when Vol. 6, Issue 2 is published. That should give everyone enough time to send in their name, address, e-mail address (if you have one), and a recommended book, magazine, website or video on any of these topics: Oceans, Inventions and Cooking. For the Cooking topic, you may also want to send a favorite quick recipe to share with us. By the way, the free book drawing is for a set of books published by Royal Fireworks Press called "Community". You'll get the teacher's edition and one student workbook, designed for grade levels 1-3. Your names and addresses are not distributed or sold, they are only needed to I can send the winner the books.

Change of Address

I have moved! Please use my new mailing address when sending anything to me. It is Gayla Thorsen, POB 76, Gouldsboro, ME 04607. I have no e-mail at this time.

We have already scouted out the nearest libraries in our new area and joined a Summer Reading Program at one. What books have you been reading this summer? A few I've read so far are "Family Matters - Why Homeschooling Makes Sense" by David Guterson. I found it to be dry and political never coming to the point. Another one is "The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook" by Dr. Raymond & Dorothy Moore, which was upbeat and had lots of homeschool experiences. Send in your summer reading lists! Happy reading! GT

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