Joshua Tree National Park in California is part of a multi-park commemoration of Women’s History Month by the National Park Service.
From factory workers in Lowell, Massachusetts, to spies and nurses on Civil War battlefields, to national leaders like Eleanor Roosevelt, women continue to dramatically shape the history of our nation. In celebration of Women’s History Month, national parks across the country are hosting special events, discussions, tours, and exhibits to highlight the contribution of women in American history.
“National parks reflect the stories of woman who were pioneers, innovators, and leaders; and we take our responsibility to preserve and share these stories with visitors today and future generations very seriously,” said National Park Service Acting Director Michael T. Reynolds, “We are also incredibly proud of the women within the National Park Service who continue that proud tradition of pioneering, innovating and leading our organization, making it a stronger and more inclusive institution.”
In addition to attending special events, everyone is invited to visit national parks to discover something new about women’s history. Here are a few parks that tell lesser-known stories of women who helped shape the nation.
Knife River Indian Villages National Historical Park in North Dakota
One of the most legendary women in American history; few are familiar with the background of Sacagawea. A Lemhi Shoshone from present-day Idaho, she was captured at a young age by a Hidatsa raiding party and taken to the Knife River Indian Villages in North Dakota where she married a French Canadian trader. In 1804, she met Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in 1804. Though only 16 or 17 years old, her knowledge of the land and people of the west were invaluable the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition to the Pacific Ocean. Hundreds of house pits and archaeological objects give a glimpse of the thriving crossroads of Native American and European American cultures along the Missouri River corridor where Sacagawea once lived.
Adams National Historical Park in Massachusetts
The Adams’ family home in Braintree, Massachusetts, is connected to two influential first ladies of the early 19th century. While Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, is one of the most well-known first ladies in American history, her daughter-in-law is perhaps one of the least-known. Born in England, Louisa Catherine Adams became the wife of John Quincy Adams in 1797 and supported his career as a diplomat, president, and congressman. She was the only first lady not born within the current boundaries of the United States until First Lady Melania Trump joined her in this distinction. Upon her death in 1852, Congress took the unprecedented action of adjoining both houses in her honor. Explore her legacy; including how she helped shaped the role of first lady and her 55 years of service to the nation.
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Maryland
Born into slavery in 1822 in Dorchester County, Maryland, Harriet Tubman escaped and forged her own destiny as an abolitionist, Civil War spy, suffragist, and humanitarian. She was taken from her mother at age six and suffered years of abuse and separation from her family before fleeing to Philadelphia in 1849. Tubman used her experiences to become a legendary “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, risking her life to lead others to freedom. Tour the forests, fields, and marshes of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where she spent her childhood and waged a war against slavery by directly leading or orchestrating the escape of others. Join the park for the grand opening of the visitor center and weekend of special events on March 11th and 12th to commemorate Tubman’s legacy.
Maggie L. Walker National Historical Site in Virginia
Born in the Confederate capital during the last year of the Civil War, Maggie Lena Walker achieved national prominence as a businesswoman and community leader. She devoted her life to the struggle for civil rights, economic empowerment, and educational opportunities for African Americans, women, and children. As a teenager, Walker joined the Independent Order of St. Luke, a fraternal society that promoted humanitarian causes in neighborhoods. To support the Order, she established a newspaper and become the first African American woman to found a bank in the United States in 1903. During the 150th anniversary of the Order, learn more about the life and impact of Walker by touring her home in person or virtually.
Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in the District of Columbia
Alice Paul was one of the most prominent advocates for women’s rights in the early 20th century, but not as commonly known as her processors Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Born into a Quaker family in 1885, she grew up attending suffragist meetings with her mother. In 1916, Paul founded the National Woman’s Party and led effective organized protests, marches, and demonstrations that defined the suffragist movement during that time. The D.C. home, which stands directly across the street from the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court, was headquarters for the National Woman’s Party for nearly 90 years. One of the newest additions in the National Park Service, the park is hosting a series of open houses to invite the public to learn about Paul and others who dedicated their lives to the struggle for women’s equality.
Joshua Tree National Park in California
Though she had virtually no training as an archaeologist, Elizabeth Campbell revolutionized the study of early desert cultures in California. Campbell moved to the Twentynine Palms area of California in the early 1920s to improve husband’s poor health, which was the result of exposure to mustard gas while serving in World War I. Fascinated by the numerous arrowheads she was finding and recognizing the threats to archaeological sites from ongoing development, she began to document the sites and publish her findings. Although widely agreed upon today, Campbell argued that archaeological features were associated with the landscape, especially water sources, and this would help to place artifact assemblages in proper chronological order. Her field notes, photographs, and well-documented artifacts are currently in the park’s museum collection.