Interpreting the Past Through the History of Women

Recently historian Sara Evans, Regents Professor, University of Minnesota, wrote a resource guide for The National Park Service, Exploring A Common Past: Interpreting Women's History in The National Park Service. In the guide Professor Evans suggests ways that women's history scholarship can be utilized to more fully and accurately describe and interpret American historical sites. She identifies seven themes that “reveal the dynamics of gender as a fundamental historical force, shaping the lives of women and men alike and opening much of the traditional historical narrative to reinterpretation.”

The intended audience for this guide is The National Park Service and other museum professionals. Although Professor Evans' examples are from American history, the seven themes she identifies are useful in illuminating the history of women in world cultures as well. She calls this seven-theme model Dynamics of Gender. Following the reprint of Professor Evans' guide examples from global women's history are given for each of the seven themes of the Dynamics of Gender model. Some of these examples are taken from longer lessons developed by Marjorie Wall Bingham and Susan Hill Gross that will be revised and posted here as they are developed.

The Clio Project: Worldwide Women's History on the Web utilizes a similar conceptual framework to that of Professor Evans called the Cultural Universals. The Clio Project Cultural Universals model is explained in the Conceptual Framework section. A chart and further explanation by Missy McDonald demonstrates ways the two models can be seen as overlapping and perhaps informing each other.

“Exploring A Common Past: Interpreting Women's History in The National Park Service” is reproduced with the permission of Sara Evans and The National Park Service.

To read the complete Evans' guide, including the world history examples that follow it, use the link below:

Link to PDF of Evans article Read the Guide