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Women’s History Month



Wednesday, March 5, 2014 • 7 p.m. Launer Auditorium, Launer Hall

Marriage has changed more in the past 40 years than in the previous 4000.   Stephanie Coontz traces the surprising history of marriage from the Stone Age to the Internet Age. She shows how marriage has become fairer and more fulfilling than in the past, but also more optional and fragile, and what that means for our society and our personal lives. Coontz argues that all of the "rules" we used to take for granted about who marries, who divorces, and how relationships work are being transformed. 


 Thursday, March 13, 2014 • 6 p.m. Dorsey Gym, Dorsey Hall

Join us for a screening of Mona Lisa Smile, a film that addresses the changing ideas about women’s education and their role within the family in 1950s America. Free snacks will be provided. This event is hosted by the History & Political Science Department & the History & Political Science Club.


 Tuesday, March 18, 2014 •  11 a.m. • Dorsey Gym, Dorsey Hall

What makes a partnership a marriage, rather than something else? We may call many kinds of groups "families," but reserve a special sense of that word for legal purposes. Should we? How ought we to understand what a genuine marriage, or a genuine family, is? Join students, faculty and staff as the Philosophy Club facilitates a brown-bag discussion of these questions. Free Chipotle lunch for the first 50 attendees. 


Thursday, March 20, 2014 • 3:30 p.m. Dorsey Gym, Dorsey Hall

Families of all kinds disagree, but that’s not always a bad thing. Put together your own family and join us for a spirited competition and the chance to win some great prizes in a live version of the popular television game show. Each family must include at least one faculty member. If you don’t have your own, we’ll provide one for you. Free snacks will be available to fuel your family to victory.

What Tradition? The Mystique of the "Modern Family"

Tradition. We love tradition, as individuals, as communities, as a nation. Even as a world we celebrate the tradition of the Olympic Games. Traditions give us a sense of identity and a sense of belonging. But where do traditions come from? They don’t all have the long illustrious history of the Olympics. In fact, some traditions have downright nebulous beginnings. Tradition and the love of all things traditional also has the potential to be used negatively—to exclude, to shame, to declare assumed superiority. So this year, as we examine love, marriage, and families we ask the question “What tradition?” Traditional marriage? Traditional weddings? Traditional families? Each of these probably invokes a stereotypical image, but how and why have we adopted those pictures? How has the tradition of marriage and family changed over time? Who decides what is, in fact, traditional? Why does it matter? In an age where the family is not as simple as the classic sitcoms of the 1950s suggest we invite a discussion about the past and future of the “traditional” wedding, marriage, family and values as we explore the mystique of the “modern family.”  

Stephanie Coontz

Stephanie Coontz teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College and is the director of research and public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, which she chaired from 2001 to 2004. She is the author of the forthcoming “‘A Strange Stirring’: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s” and the award-winning Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage (2005), and the editor of American Families: A Multicultural Reader (2008). She is interested in the trade-offs and paradoxes of historical changes in family life, gender relations, and intimate partnerships. She has appeared on numerous television news and talk programs as well as in several prime-time television documentaries. She received the Council on Contemporary Families’ first “Visionary Leadership” Award in 2004 as well as the Dale Richmond Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Coontz will be presenting her lecture "Courting Trouble: The Historical Transformation of Love and Marriage" on Wednesday, March 5, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. in Launer Auditorium on the Columbia College campus. 

The History of Women's History Month

First begun as a local celebration of women's history in Santa Rosa, California in 1978, the movement for a national celebration of women's history gained momentum in 1979 at the Women's History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. In February 1980 President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation recognizing the week of March 8, 1980 as National Women's History Week. Carter's proclamation coincided with resolutions in the House of Representatives and the Senate that declared support for National Women's History Week.

The movement continued to grow as individual states expanded these week-long celebrations to month-long recognition, so that by 1987 Congress issued a declaration of March as Women's History Month in perpetuity. The celebration continues to be marked by an annual presidential proclamation. For more on the history of women's history month, visit the National Women's History Project website.

Why March?

March was selected for the first women's history celebration in 1978 because of the celebration of March 8th as International Women's Day, which has been celebrated in various countries around the world since the early 1900s. By 1917 the date became firmly fixed on March 8 in recognition of a strike for "bread and peace" carried out by Russian women in the opening days of the Russian Revolution. For more information on International Women's Day visit

Columbia College and Women's History

Columbia College, founded in 1851 as Christian Female College, has a rich history of providing education for women and of producing women who become forces of change in the world. Christian College's origins lie in the desire on the part of its founders to provide a quality liberal arts education for their daughters, who were denied admission at the University of Missouri where many of the founders were teachers and administrators. The opening of the school in 1851 marked the first institution of higher education for women west of the Mississippi. Christian College continued to provide educational opportunities for young women, and in 1970 extended its mission and opened its doors to men for the first time. Now as Columbia College, the community marks the significance of its own history and the contributions of women around the world to making history happen by hosting a series of events to celebrate Women's History Month.

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