Girls Rock!

Women rock – and they always have. Here’s proof:

  • Mary Jane Patterson of Raleigh was the first African-American woman in the U.S. to receive a bachelor’s degree, way back in 1862.
  • Eliza Jane Pratt was the first female to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Congress, in 1946.
  • And a little more recently, in 2009 Beverly Perdue became North Carolina’s first female governor.

Without a doubt, the hard work, perseverance and contributions of women have helped shape the state of North Carolina. It’s time to celebrate that fact, during Women’s History Month!

“Our department makes a special effort to celebrate the countless contributions of women to our state during Women’s History Month,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, which will host programs throughout March that celebrate women’s history. “We hope that as many people as possible take part in our special programming.”

Here’s a sampling of events:

Each Saturday in March, at 1 p.m.

Bennett Place, Durham

Lecture themes in the Civil War Women Series include the roles women assumed in order to survive Reconstruction, as they dealt with shortages staples like sugar, flour and butter – and money. Learn about the proper etiquette and rituals around mourning for northern and southern women of the period, and how black women tried to protect their families, or seek escape to Union-held areas. Admission is $5.

Wednesday, March 8 at noon

N.C. Museum of History, Raleigh

Bennis M. Blue, Ph.D., a Raleigh native, was the first female member of the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg, in 1978. In “I Served Too: Fame & Humility,” she shares her experiences and historic first parachute jump with the 82nd, and offers insights for women considering a military career. Free.

Saturday, March 11 at 11 a.m.

Historic Stagville, Durham

Dr. Valerie A. Johnson, chair of the N.C. African American Heritage Commission and head of the Africana Women’s Studies Program at Bennett College, presents “Speaking Truth, Giving Voice: A Talk in Celebration of the Genius of Black Women in North Carolina.”

Writer Octavia Butler, artist Minnie Evans, Winston-Salem restaurateurs Stephanie Tyson and Vivian Joyner and activist Nan Freeland are among women to be discussed. A question and answer period will follow. Free.

Sunday, March 19 at 3 p.m.

N.C. Museum of History, Raleigh

Call the midwife! Folklorist and former N.C. Museum of History curator Lisa Yarger presents on her recent book “Lovie: The Story of a Southern Midwife and an Unlikely Friendship,” which details her relationship with Lovie Beard Shelton, who delivered 4,000 babies from 1950 to 2001. Free.

Wednesday, March 22 at 10 a.m.

Webinar: Finding Female Ancestors

This genealogical presentation from staff of the N.C. Government and Heritage Library explores resources for finding the women in your family tree. Free; register at

Saturday, March 25; tours at 2, 3:30, 5 and 7 p.m.

Duke Homestead, Durham

Duke Homestead, the birthplace of the future American Tobacco Company, was also the birthplace of three Duke children. “Born at Duke Homestead” examines life for women in 1856, the year the youngest of those children, James B. Duke, was born to Artelia Duke. Guided tours will be led by costumed interpreters, and midwives with the Durham Women’s Clinic will share information. Admission is $3.

Traveling this month? Many more Women’s History Month events are happening around the state — find them at

Information on groundbreaking women from

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