Preserving 'Her'story: Writing Women Into History

May 12, 2020

2020 is a big anniversary year for women’s voting rights in history. Though many in-person events have been cancelled, the preservation of women’s contributions to history has not been put on hold for the non-profit Better Days 2020, according to Katherine Kitterman, the historical director for the organization.

We want to make sure that people know about the women right here in our own backyards in our own neighborhoods and communities who have moved the needle and who have pushed for representation and who have worked to make our communities better in different ways,” she said.

Kitterman said as soon as the organization found out they’d have to cancel in-person events due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was decided to convert a proposed one-time event into a long-term, work-from-home project.

“This is a project to edit Wikipedia bios of Utah women in history. Wikipedia editing isn't super complicated. Anybody can do it," Kitterman said.

"Only about 18% of the biographies in English on Wikipedia are of women. And we think that you should change because those contributions and their work and their legacy needs to be honored as well.”

Kitterman said the project is initially focusing on 70 Utah women who need information added to their pages, whether citations, photos, or creating a page for them altogether. She said the project is not only important to understand where we come from as Utahns, but also to draw on the resiliency of women who faced difficult situations in our past.

“Whether you're a new Utahn, or you've been here or your family's been here for generations, we all can draw on that legacy of women who stepped in to fill a need, who saw injustice and spoke up or who worked for decades on long, tireless, thankless causes, right, to advance women's right to vote and to be a part of society," she said. "And so I think, especially in this anniversary year, it's a great time to look back, and to honor that legacy and to ask ourselves and how, how we can honor that in our own lives.” 

Another ongoing project Better Days 2020 is working on is archiving local history with women who filled leadership roles since the state was first settled (information and pictures of women to be featured on the website can be submitted here). Kitterman said incorporating the data and histories they've discovered through that project lead to the current Wikipedia project.