Betty Smith is VPR's Commentary Series Producer. She offers this reflection of this week's Vermont Women series:
Although we've always made a conscious effort to offer individual commentaries on women's issues during the month of March and year-round, our annual, week-long focus on Vermont Women as a Women's History Month feature grew out of our work with regular commentator, Cyndy Bittinger.
In 2005, Cyndy offered to help identify five contemporary Vermont women to tell the stories of five historic Vermont women, and we haven't missed a year since. Along the way, Cyndy enlisted the help of the Vermont Women's Commission and the Vermont Women's History Project. VPR edits and produces the series, based on suggestions from Cyndy and the VWHP.
We've heard from Cyndy, Liz Jeffords, Deborah Clifford, Cathi Wendling, Marcelle Leahy, Ann Lawless, Edith Hunter, Deb Markowitz, Amy Cunningham, Barbara Snelling, Deborah Luskin, Diana Wright, Christine Smith and Galen Beale.
We've heard about Consuelo Baily, Esther Sorrell, Sally Experience Brown, Annette Parmalee, Lenore McNeer, the sisters of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph, Caroline Ardelia Yale, the women of Springfield's Machine Tool Industry, Ann Story, Winnie Perkins, Aschsa Sprague, Edna Beard, Sylvia Bliss, Hazel M. Weil, Clarina Howard Nichols, Grace Coolidge, Dorothy Thompson, Donella Meadows, Shirley Jackson, The Women's Relief Corps, Alice Herdan-Zuckmayer and Sister Jane Blanchard.
This year we add the stories of Fanny Allen, Philomene Daniels, Florence Weld, Sadie White and Grandma Lampman as told by Cyndy Bittinger, Julia Lewendoski, Joan Curtis and Louise Lampman-Larivee.
From pioneers and Abenaki healers to nuns, politicians, teachers, historians, factory workers and steamboat captains - these women's stories are rarely found in textbooks, but they reflect the history, culture and identity of our region. And understanding our past helps inform our future.