Historical Markers

birthplace women's suffrage

I am a counter.  I love to count.  One day I randomly decided to take a close look at the Florida Historic Marker Program and count the number of markers that recognized the achievements of individual women.  The database of current markers is online which made my task easy.  Out of the almost 1000 historic markers listed, only six, yes six, honored women: Annie Tommie, a Seminole Leader; Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Milly Francis, labeled the Creek Pocahontas; Princess Murat, the great grandniece of George Washington; Women’s rights activist Roxcy O’Neal Bolton, and Zora Neale Hurston author of Their Eyes were Watching God.

I drew attention to this issue by both calling the head of the Historic Marker Program and  writing an Op-Ed for the Tallahassee Democrat.  In the following twelve months I have gotten several markers for women approved including: Historic Preservationist Barbara Baer Capitman, Seminole Leader Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, Marathon Swimmer Diana Nyad, aviator Amelia Earhart, and Miami’s first female physician, Eleanor Galt Simmons. Next on my list of women to be honored are Eugenie Clark, affectionately known as the Shark Lady and Founder of the Mott Aquarium and Dr. Florence Seibert, inventor of the standard TB test.

new marker historic marker initiativeNew Mexico had a similar problem which it remedied in 2006 when the State Legislature passed the Historic Women Marker Initiative.  Prior to enacting this legislation not a single one of the states 680 scenic historic markers had as its central subject a woman.  Now there are 75 markers in New Mexico that honor the historical contributions of women.