Women’s History Month at the Smithsonian

From a Confederate spy to a deepwater researcher, women are everywhere and the Smithsonian is telling their stories

These two ladies are on their way to the Smithsonian to celebrate woman’s history month. Photo by Percival Bryan, courtesy of the Anacostia Community Museum

Women in jazz, women in science, women in the arts, women were everywhere. Even in the days when women were supposed to just be in the kitchen, they were busy making history. And this month at the Smithsonian, a month-long celebration of those women kicks off with the American History’s exhibit on the 100th anniversary of the Woman Suffrage Parade.

Get the full schedule of films, lectures and events here, but check out these highlights:

LECTURE The Scientist is In

Museum specialist at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Ruth Gibbons, discusses deepwater biodiversity surveys of an extinct undersea volcano in the Atlantic Ocean. Volcanos, oceans and deepwater diving, now that’s the life. March 6, Natural History Museum, 1 pm-2 pm.

Jazz star Carmen McRae, courtesy of Wikimedia

PERFORMANCE Rhythm Cafe: The Life and Mastery of Carmen McRae

Good friends with her musical inspiration Billie Holliday, Carme McRae sang one Lady Day song at each performance she gave. Nonetheless, the jazz musician born to Jamaican parents in Harlem carved out her identity with witty interpretations and star-studded collaborations. Mikaela Carlton, of the Howard University Vocal Music Department, will talk about jazz pioneer McRae’s life and achievements and the Carmen McRae Tribute Band will provide the tunes. March 10, Anacostia Community Museum, 2 pm-4 pm. Free, but space is limited, RSVP.

Looks simple enough, but wait until you see through a female lens. Courtesy of the American Art Museum

TOUR America “Through a Female Lens”

A domestic scene of family life may seem a quaint setting for a traditional painting, but there’s more to art than meets the eye. Learn how works, from colonial paintings to contemporary pieces, can be seen through “a female lens” with this tour at the American Art Museum. March 14 and March 21, 12:30 pm.

FILM Rebel: Loreta Velazquez and the Role of Women in the American Civil War

How did a Cuban woman raised in New Orleans become a spy for the Confederate army and even fight at Bull Run? That’s the question behind this documentary that traces the life a woman many believed to be a hoax.  The screening will be followed by a broader discussion of women in the Civil War with director and producer Mari Agui Carter, as well as scholars Virginia Sanchez Korrol, Margaret Vining, and Catherine Clinton. March 28, American History Museum, 6 pm.


If you can’t make it to the Smithsonian, then take advantage of its online resources with guides to the Seneca Falls Convention, women inventors (fitting, since this year’s theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination“), African American female artists and more.


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