Washington, DC – Senator Collins today introduced the National Women’s History Museum Act of 2005, which would help establish a national museum for women’s history in the currently vacant Pavilion Annex of the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C. This bill, which has twenty co-sponsors, including all 14 women Senators, passed the Senate unanimously last Congress. Introduction of this bill also coincides with National Women’s History Month.
“The outstanding women who have changed our country and the role of women in our country are the reason I am proud to sponsor this bill designating a site for a National Women’s History Museum in Washington, D.C.,” Senator Collins said. “Women’s history needs a place in our Capitol and in our collective American history, so that we can learn about our past, and be inspired to make history of our own.”
There is currently no national institution in the Washington, D.C. area that is dedicated to the legacy of women’s contributions throughout our country’s history. Sadly, fewer than 5% of the Nation’s 2,200 National Historic Landmarks are dedicated to women, a troubling fact given the significant contributions of women throughout our nation’s history.
The stories of the women in American history who helped change and shape our Nation are the most compelling reasons to support this legislation: women who were and are trailblazers such as Sandra Day O’Connor who was the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, Sally Ride who was the first American woman in space, and Madeleine Albright who was the first woman U.S. Secretary of State. We should ensure that the stories of women with unwavering bravery are told. Women like Harriet Tubman, who led slaves to freedom using the underground railroad, and Rosa Parks, who sparked a movement by refusing to sit in the back of a bus. A national museum would record this history and tells the stories of these pioneering women, so that others might be inspired by them.
Maine’s own Margaret Chase Smith, who served in the Senate seat that Senator Collins now holds, was the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for the presidency by a major political party and the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress. Senator Smith began representing Maine in 1940. She embodied the independent spirit of Maine, and was known as a smart, courageous, and independent Member of Congress.