Season 1, Episode 2: Heroines & History

It’s Women’s History Month, so let’s chat about the ladies of the past. Why aren’t there so many “legendary” women? How can we strive to include women’s stories into the conversation about history? Sarah Kay Bierle shares some examples, stories, and ideas in this new episode.


  • Women’s History Month! Let’s talk about women and history…
  • Where did the information come from that we know about women in the past?

[Cpt. Harville] “…but let me observe that all histories are against you, all stories, prose and verse…. I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon a woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men.”

[Anne Elliot] “Perhaps I shall. —Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove any thing.”

Jane Austen, Persuasion, Chapter 23
  • Men have told the story of women in the past – sometimes accurately, but sometimes “less than accurate.”
  • How can we bring women and their stories into the “big picture” of history?
  • Story about The Generals Books! (Where are the women?)
  • Women’s Studies are often treated very separate from other areas of study of historical topics.
  • History is interconnected.
  • Looking at Gettysburg as a case study for “heroine” and visual, memorial representation.
  • Should we make historical women into legends? (No.)
  • *Generally speaking* there isn’t quite as much myth and legend to pull from women’s biographies.
  • For women who do have legends around their lives, let’s take another look at how and why that story evolved and if it stands up to historical facts.

Episode Questions:

  • Who are the women that you look up to in history? How have their lives been interpreted? How are you going to bring accurate women’s history into the larger historical conversation.

Published by Sarah Kay Bierle

I’m Sarah Kay Bierle, author, speaker, and researcher. Past and present, everyone has a story. What will we discover and discuss?

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