Tales from the Tread: Women in history

Three of Steamboat Springs' most influential women, Portia Mansfield, Charlotte Perry and Marjorie Perry of the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp. (Courtesy/Tread of Pioneers Museum)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — “Without women, history is only half-told,” according to the National Women’s History Museum.

Every March we celebrate Women’s History Month to reflect on the contributions of women throughout history. Women’s history is often associated with the trailblazers and big household names like Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart and others. As cultural icons, these women excelled in their pursuits, overcame major obstacles and represent firsts or standouts who serve as inspiration for all generations and genders.

But women’s history is more than just the big headlines and the names of women leaders who achieved greatness. When we dig deeper, we find compelling stories of women in our everyday lives, where challenges, loss, hope and triumph unfold. In the shadows of the spotlights of major figures in history, we find the more common and relatable stories of inspiration.

“For far too long, women have been underrepresented,” wrote the National Women’s History Museum. “Amidst the historic shifts taking place in the world, we’re missing stories and information about women that can help us get to the future. Stories that have been overlooked, yet are crucial to our history.”

Among the women leaders in communities like Routt County also lies the history of women like the ranch wives that kept the family and the ranch hands fed, the gardens tended, the children educated, bathed and nursed, and the clothes mended. They volunteered in their communities, cared for sick neighbors and worked right alongside their husbands. These contributors served tirelessly and quietly behind-the-scenes and ensured family survival, as well as community connectedness and development. Though we might not find their stories in the major history books and museums, their roles are not any less significant to the betterment of our communities.

Routt County history is also rooted in stories of inspiring women founding and leading cornerstone organizations, establishing our schools, teaching our children, rallying vital causes, excelling in elite athletics and more. Their perseverance and determination is remarkable.

Join us throughout the month of March on the museum’s Facebook page and Instagram for profile spotlights on women who made history in Routt County. We will feature the lives and stories of torchbearers like Eleanor Bliss, Marjorie Perry, Elizabeth Hutchinson, Charlotte Perry, Portia Mansfield and Emma Peck, as well as the lives of the more quiet, unsung heroines whose names and lives are less known.

It is the honor and the mission of the Tread of Pioneers Museum to uncover the stories, spirit and endurance of these notable women and provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of the rich history of Routt County. We hope you will join us in honoring these local women who made their mark on this community.

Candice Bannister is executive director of the Tread of Pioneers Museum in Steamboat Springs.

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