"In education, in religion, in marriage, in everything, disappointment is the lot of women. It shall be the business of my life to deepen this disappointment in every woman's heart until she bows down to it no longer"
--Lucy Stone, American Lawyer and Activist (1818-1893)
How can we ensure that what is recovered is never again lost?
We are at a transformative point in knowing about women: for the first time in human experience the energy of what we call feminist historical recovery has produced a critical mass of information about more women of the past than we could have ever imagined existed. These figures left evidence of their lives that disappeared, was sometimes resurrected, and then was lost again, and again. As we find new figures and generate more information about already-known figures, we stumble upon the knowledge they produced that has not yet been calibrated as part of the dominant narratives.
Every new discovery contributes to our ability to do the hardest work of all: to take women on their own terms in their time and place and circumstances. This is so difficult because female figures have generally come to us through the agency and organizing principles of mostly men—or not at all. Therefore, we seek to create alternative knowledge-ordering systems that incorporate empirical data about women, to broadcast what we know. With this Manifesto we commit ourselves anew to the effort.
Whatever this activity is called, its effects are revolutionary: they reshape our understanding of history, itself a prevailing knowledge-ordering system developed over millennia by, for, and mainly about men (in the intentional absence of women). From the groundbreaking—and backbreaking—efforts of feminist scholars over the past decades, the avalanche of evidence of women’s achievements in all times, places, and cultural forms inspires us to discover, recover, and reclaim a female past.
The New Historia is many things: a network of global researchers painstakingly recovering women in history; a dynamic, growing collection of Schemas that document individual female figures; and a platform for creative collaboration, communication, community-building, and the creation of new knowledge-ordering systems.
At the beating heart of The New Historia are Schemas, condensed capsules that collect the details we know, and leave open the knowledge not yet known, about female figures across time and geography. Together, these Schemas will knit a new understanding of history—not just as a supplement to masculinist historical narratives, but as new knowledge-ordering systems themselves.
We cannot understand the persistence of historical misogyny without surfacing the forces that have silenced and erased women’s contributions across time and place. These emergent patterns will help us to see anew the continuous efforts to keep women’s contributions from the light of day, and the myriad ways in which women have broken through the darkness.
Fueled by the power and excitement behind a certitude in women’s contributions to human understanding, The New Historia emerges from, celebrates, and advances these efforts as a collaborative initiative of global feminist historical recovery to document women’s history, one genuine life at a time.
Progress and Diversity
The launch of The New Historia as a digital platform in March 2022 is only the beginning. It is a first, initial step toward a more robust and open site for community-building and knowledge-sharing. With each successive step, we are committed to making it more accessible, more inclusive, and more diverse. What it looks like in March 2022 will be, we hope, barely a shadow of its more vivid future self. It is only in this way that we can realistically maintain our ambition to build new knowledge-ordering systems that do not perpetuate the silencing, the biases, and the exclusions of history that we aim to remedy.
“And where the words of women are crying to be heard, we must each of us recognize our responsibility to seek those words out, to read them and share them and examine them in their pertinence to our lives. That we not hide behind the mockeries of separations that have been imposed upon us and which so often we accept as our own.”
—Audre Lorde, The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action (1980)
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