Campus & Community

Colorado sites open for Women’s History Month

For the 20th anniversary of Women’s History Month in March, homes of notable American women are being opened to the public as never before, including two Colorado sites — Boggsville and the Molly Brown House Museum.

Bonnie Clark, assistant professor of anthropology at DU, is on the board of theNational Collaborative for Women’s History Sites, which is dedicated to preserving and promoting women’s heritage. The Web site has a thorough listing of historical sites.

Clark has researched Boggsville, a site along the Santa Fe Trail in Las Animas, Colo., where Rumalda Luna Boggs and Amache Ochinee Prowers made history as women during the mid- to late-1800s.

Clark says the influence of the women can be seen in their adobe houses. Rumalda was from New Mexico and Amache was an American Indian; their homes reflect their heritage and the Victorian world of their husbands.

“That both of these women owned and maintained control of land is really important,” says Clark. “At that time in the U.S., married women could not own land! So Boggsville owes its existence to women like Amache and Rumalda who worked against a system that was designed to disempower them.

“I would definitely recommend a trip to Boggsville. It’s a wonderful site where this early history of intermarriage is really visible,” Clark says.

Closer to DU is the Molly Brown House Museum, located at 1340 Pennsylvania Street in Denver. Margaret “Molly” Brown survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

“She was never actually called Molly during her lifetime,” says Jennifer Otto, a DU anthropology student who is a docent at the house. “Molly was invented by Hollywood for the play and movie, The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

Otto says Brown, who was often called Maggie, was a progressive woman who helped numerous people in a time when it wasn’t necessarily considered proper for women to be involved in such affairs.

“Margaret was deeply involved in the suffrage movement, realizing the importance of women receiving the right to vote,” Otto says. “She ran for a seat in the Senate before women even had the right to vote.”

Touring the Brown house, or any other physical landmark, is a great way to learn about women’s history, says Clark.

“Written history has a tendency to be focused around politics, but women only gained the right to vote in 1920,” Clark says. “We can learn about their incredibly important contributions through tangible history — houses, landscapes and objects.”

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