• Reclaim the History of Women

  • Reclaim the History of Women

    Historical records reveal story after story of male accomplishments. But those stories don’t provide a complete narrative. For centuries, women toiled in obscurity to produce work that would achieve immortality. The time has come to recover their names from dusty forgotten volumes and spread them far and wide.

    On a necessary quest to keep the overlooked biographies of important historical women alive, a group of faculty, scholars, and students based at The New School set out to give history’s forgotten women their rightful place in the spotlight by launching The New Historia.

    The New Historia, a website that serves as an online repository of the individual “female biographies” of numerous undiscovered women, complements, corrects, and critiques what the world takes to be foundational knowledge, with the aim of addressing ignorance of women’s contributions to human understanding through time and around the globe. More important, access to the archive gives people the opportunity to examine and celebrate the women who helped shape our present—including Laura Bassi, an 18th-century Newtonian physicist, and Amelia Bassano Lanier, a 16th-century poet believed to have co-authored Shakespeare’s plays—and to recognize that history’s important lives aren’t only those of men.

    According to director Gina Luria Walker, associate professor of women’s studies, The New Historia is “a concept, a feminist practice, a prophecy, and a prayer.” The site continues to expand as new data become available. The New Historia team hopes to create a go-to network enabling researchers to collaborate and to amend and fact-check female biographies, with the ultimate goal of becoming the most credible platform and current source of information on historical women for students, scholars, and the public globally.

    Determined to be as groundbreaking as the historical women the site features, the New Historia founders have ambitious plans for the project’s future. They have already launched several initiatives, including bi-annual “Writing and Righting History Wikipedia Edit-a-thons” (WEATs) at The New School. Tired of reading entries by and about men, the New Historia founders lead the WEATs to illuminate the rich legacies of women throughout history and share them with Wikipedia users around the world. The WEATs successfully merge the academic (the feminist project of historical recovery) with the popular (the Internet’s source history) to correct past and present gender imbalances.

    The New Historia’s latest effort is conducting workshops for middle and high school students to expand girls’ expectations and plant seeds of leadership, innovation, and activism through the site’s biographies. New Historia students also created a zine, Persisters, illustrated with student models representing nine historical figures and their texts to convey how being a young woman today is intimately connected to the experiences of women of the past.

    With every new female biography escaping the shadows for the light, The New Historia brings the world one step closer to seeing its true history and preparing for a better future. The New School is a force of gender equality in research, scholarship, preservation, documentation, and illumination. Be a Force of New.

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