This month in history: Focusing on women’s history

Caitlyn Dieckmann 

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 “From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this Nation. Too often, the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength, and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.” —Former President Jimmy Carter, Feb. 28, 1980 

     The bolded dates below mark important moments in women’s history, in support of Women’s History Month.  

March 1, 1961 – The U.S. Peace Corps was founded by President John F. Kennedy. 

March 2, 1836 – Texas declared independence from Mexico, although it was originally denied annexation into the United States in the same year.  

March 3, 1931 – The Star-Spangled Banner became the National Anthem of the United States.  

March 3, 1913 – A women’s suffrage march in Washington D.C. was attacked by angry onlookers while police stood by.  

Women’s march in 1913. Photo courtesy of

     The women’s march occurred one day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration and was the first large march calling for a Constitutional amendment for voting rights to women. 5,000 women participated, and some were spat upon and struck in the face when a nearby riot began. Over 100 women had to be hospitalized for injuries. Secretary of War Henry Stimson ordered soldiers from Fort Myer to restore order. 

March 4, 1930 – Mrs. Charles Fahning of Buffalo N.Y. was recognized as the first woman to bowl a perfect 300 game. 

March 5, 1770 – In the Boston Massacre, five Americans were killed by British soldiers. 

March 6, 1836 – Fort Alamo fell to Mexican troops led by General Santa Anna.  

March 7, 1876 – Alexander Graham Bell patented the Telephone. 

March 8, 1911 – International Women’s Day 

     A global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women began on March 8, 1911. This day drew more than one million people to rallies worldwide and has continued since, including a mass demonstration by Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai that caused a chain of events leading to the Russian Revolution. The Provisional Government became the first government of a major power to grant women the right to vote. Vladimir Lenin recognized this importance and declared Woman’s Day an official Soviet holiday in 1917.  

     The UN has sponsored International Women’s Day since 1975.  

March 9, 1862 – Ironclad ships the Monitor and the Merrimack battled in the Civil War. 

March 10, 1880 – The Salvation Army, which operates today in 90 countries, was founded in the U.S. 

March 11, 1918 – The “Spanish flu,” or the 1918 influenza pandemic, first reached the U.S. in Kansas, infecting 107 American soldiers. The pandemic led to 22 million deaths worldwide by 1920.  

March 12, 1912 – Girl Scouts were founded by Juliette Gordon Low 

     This day sparked a movement, inspiring young girls to embrace their individuality, strength and intellect, amid growing women’s movements. 

March 12, 1994 – The Church of England ordained 32 women as its first female priests.  

     In protest, 700 male clergy members and thousands of church members left the church and joined the Roman Catholic Church, which does not allow women priests to this day.  

March 13, 1868 – The U.S. Senate began the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson. 

March 14, 1833 – The first female dentist, Lucy Hobbs (1833-1910), was born in New York state.       

     Hobbs received her degree from Ohio College of Dental Surgery in 1866 and is remembered as a women’s rights advocate. 

March 16, 1968 – The My Lai Massacre was carried out by American soldiers in the Vietnam War, killing 504 Vietnamese men, women and children. 

March 17, 1973 – Queen Elizabeth II opened the new London Bridge.  

March 18, 1965 – Soviet Union Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov became the first to take a spacewalk. 

March 19, 1918 – U.S. Congress approved Daylight Savings Time, originally proposed by Benjamin Franklin.  

March 20, 1852 – Harriet Beecher Stowe published the book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” 

     Stowe was a famous woman abolitionist, and her book depicted the harsh conditions of enslaved African Americans. 

March 21, 1963 – The infamous Alcatraz prison was closed for financial reasons.  

March 22, 1972 – The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution was passed by the U.S. Senate and then sent to the states for ratification.  

An ERA support rally. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine.

     The ERA prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex. It stated, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” and that “the Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”  

     22 of the required 38 states ratified the Amendment, but opposition was concerned that women would be subject to the draft and combat duty, and other legal concerns. The ERA failed by three states.  

March 23, 1775 – Patrick Henry declared “Give me liberty, or give me death!” 

    Patrick Henry ignited the American Revolution with a speech before the Virginia convention in Richmond, stating, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” 

March 24, 1882 – German scientist Robert Koch announced the discovery of the bacillus that causes Tuberculosis. 

March 25, 1911 – A raging fire erupted inside a garment factory.  

A few victims of the fire, from left to right, Max Florin, Fannie Rosen, Dora Evans and Josephine Cammarata. Photos courtesy of The New York Times.

     Killing 123 young women employed as underpaid seamstresses and 23 men, the fire engulfed the eighth and ninth floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in lower Manhattan. About 50 of the victims jumped to their deaths to avoid the flames. The tragedy spurred national interest concerning the rights of mostly-immigrant women workers of the New York garment industry in dangerous conditions.  

March 26, 1964 – The musical “Funny Girl” starring Barbra Streisand debuted on Broadway.  

March 27, 1964 – The biggest earthquake ever recorded struck Anchorage, Alaska, measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale. 

March 28, 1797 – Nathaniel Briggs patented the washing machine. 

March 29, 1848 – Ice jams stopped the flow of water over Niagara Falls. 

March 30, 1870 – The 15th Amendment went into effect, giving Black men the right to vote. 

March 31, 1958 – The Eiffel Tower opened in Paris, France.