Be the embedded historian in your family!

History Smiths

David McCullough, one of my heroes, thinks we should have embedded historians on military missions just as we often see embedded journalists. What a wonderful idea!

But just for fun, what about having an embedded historian in your FAMILY – and it could be you! Especially if you have a daughter, this role could be incredibly valuable for her development.

Many girls struggle with issues of self-esteem, self-confidence, and envisioning a role for themselves to play in the world. Even today. By exposing them to women’s history you can have a positive impact in all three areas.

The pressure on girls when it comes to their looks and sexuality is appalling, and they need to know – really know – that they can do so much more than just be pretty and sexy. Also, wouldn’t it be wonderful if they got the message that we EXPECT more of them? And one of the best ways I know of to shift this mindset is to expose girls to women who came from modest backgrounds, faced all kinds of obstacles, and achieved great things. It can make girls think, “Hmmm, I could do that too!”


• Look into the women’s history in your town or your state. Contact your historical society, library, museum, historic house or National Park Service site to “find the women.”

• Find a woman or women your daughter can relate to – someone who did something she’s interested in, someone who used to live near you or who went to her school. Someone she will have a connection with.

• Make a project out of investigating the woman or women. Visit her historic home, teach your daughter how to use your public library to gather information, and go online to see what’s there.

What would be particularly gratifying is to find a woman who has not been studied, because then your daughter will be doing original research — and that is empowering stuff.

• What can your daughter do with the information you have uncovered? Can this become a school project? An article for your local newspaper or historical society? A website? A talk? These actions alone will give her a sense of accomplishment and call out her curiosity and her creativity. (She will also be building her resume!)

We can’t trust our schools to do women’s history because they aren’t doing it. The same is often true with historical societies and museums. And yet, women’s history is TEEMING with role models for girls to learn from, model, and be inspired by.

Whether you’re a mom or a dad, think about becoming the family embedded historian and women’s history teacher for your daughter. You will enjoy the journey!