Montgomery County Women's History Quilt & Archives Project
On June 7, 1972, the Montgomery County Council enacted legislation establishing the Commission for Women. In 2002, to commemorate its 30th anniversary, the Commission created an Archive of the biographies of 30 women whose lives were of historical significance to Montgomery County. In July of 2012, to commemorate its 40th anniversary, the Commission added another 10 biographies, and has added five more since then.
When the Commission for Women first conceived the notion to create a Montgomery County Women’s History Archive, the Internet was just beginning its spectacular trajectory into the daily lives of most Americans. The Commissioners in 2002 took advantage of the new technology to make the Archive accessible to anyone, at anytime. Rather than a paper file, the Commission established an “on-line archive” – still a relatively new concept at that time – of the biographies of these women so that researchers, whether students, social scientists or historians, could easily find their stories.
The honorees include such luminaries as Rachel Carson, the mother of the modern environmental movement whose house still stands in Silver Spring, and Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross whose historic home still graces the Glen Echo area of the county. The Archive includes educators, judges, the first woman lawyer and first woman doctor in the county, the first woman to represent our county in the U.S. Congress, and the former university professor known now to all as “the Godmother of Title IX.” The Archive also includes Emily Edmonson, a former slave who worked side by side with Frederick Douglas in the abolition movement, and whose descendents still reside in our county today. Her contributions were almost lost to history, because she was a woman and the heroic nature of her life’s contributions were not recognized at the time.
Special thanks go Anne Sanderoff-Walker, former commission president and current fiber artist, who designed and created the two Quilts honoring 40 women of historical significance to Montgomery County Maryland. We are also thankful to former commissioner Gary Smith for his inspired leadership in the conception and design of the Archives Webpage, and to former CFW staff Clotilde Puertolas who did much of the research to develop the biographies.
The Commission is grateful to the staff of the Montgomery County Historical Society Library, Montgomery County Archives, Peerless Rockville, Clara Barton National Historic Site, The Rachel Carson House National Historic Landmark, the Rachel Carson Council, and The Washington Adventist Hospital. Without their help, this project would not have been possible. We are also thankful to the many Montgomery County historians whose suggestions, ideas and information have helped this project.
Above all, the Commission is grateful for the pioneering work and the contributions of the women included in the Archive. Their vision, dedication, perseverance, commitment and passion are an inspiration to us all.