by Hal Gray
GREENSBORO – A new exhibit in Willey’s Store recognizes local Greensboro women (now deceased) as part of Women’s History Month. Prepared by the Greensboro Historical Society and employees at Willey’s, it is set on a table just inside the front of the store. A large display contains the photos, with explanatory captions, of 20 representative women who played a part in Twentieth-century Greensboro history with a smaller display showing four women who played a big part in the history of Willey’s Store.
Selection of the women was subjective and is likely to have missed someone’s favorite historical women, and a notebook is included in the display for viewers to note these women. The focus is on local women and the list would have been much longer if summer residents “from away” had been included.
Another part of the exhibit is a listing of the 60 women who were the first to vote in Greensboro. They took the Freeman’s Oath to vote in the Presidential election after the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920.
The women portrayed in the exhibit are Cleora Collier, Dorothy Ling, Carol Smith, Alice Hill, Beatrice White, Esther Kesselman, Helen Lyles, Minnie Speir, Harriette Wilson, Ida Perron, Rosie Oates, Dorothy Davis, Hazel Gile, Bronwyn Potter, Catherine Houle, Annie Bartel, Mary Merrill, Laura Drown, Madeline Gebbie, Anne Harbison. The women of Willey’s Store are Edla Locklin Willey, Hattie Willey, Gertrude Willey and Phyllis Willey Hurst.
Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society and reflects on the often-overlooked contributions of women to U.S. history. The celebration grew out of a 1978 celebration by a California school district. A few years later the idea caught on within communities, school districts and organizations across the country. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation for a National Women’s History Week. The U.S. Congress followed suit the next year, and in 1987 the National Women’s History Project successfully petitioned the Congress to expand the event to the entire month of March.