“History is not just what happened in the past. It is what later generations choose to remember,” wrote historian and Harvard professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich in her book Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History.
For too many years, the important roles women played throughout American history were not what later generations chose to remember. Historians, novelists, playwrights, filmmakers — who happened to be mostly men and mostly white — chronicled the exploits of mostly white men. Women’s stories remained buried in attics, inked in diaries and letters, and pressed in dusty period publications. They patiently waited to be found, explored and ultimately retold by women historians, novelists, playwrights and filmmakers.
In celebration of Women’s History Month 2015, and in collaboration with the Mid-Hudson Library System, our office is proud to present our second volume of Women’s History in the Hudson Valley: Ten Stories from Columbia and Dutchess Counties. We are committed to ensuring that the lives and deeds of the bold, smart, visionary women who came before us are remembered here today and passed on to fuel the dreams of future generations.
In this volume we have shared the stories of ten remarkable women with ties to our region who, well-behaved or not, made history. They were writers, editors, activists, scientists and public servants. They include: Sybil Luddington, born in 1761, who at the age of 16, rode her horse for over 40 miles (farther than Paul Revere) through the night to alert the local regiments to the approaching British troops; pioneering birth control advocate and social reformer Margaret Sanger who as a young woman, in 1896, came to Columbia County to attend Claverack College and the Hudson River Institute; and Franny Reese, who in the 1960s led the charge to protect our magnificent Hudson River Valley from Con Ed’s plans to build the world’s largest power plant on the face of iconic Storm King Mountain, at the same time helping launch the modern environmental movement.
Please visit your library and ask for a copy of the 2015 Women’s History in the Hudson Valley: Ten Stories from Columbia and Dutchess Counties to read about the extraordinary contributions these women have made to our community and country. And please share with us the names of other women in local Hudson Valley history for future volumes.