Women’s history exhibit visits Shenandoah libraries

During its 10th year of circulation by the Library of Virginia, the “Virginia Women in History” traveling exhibit will be making its first stop in Shenandoah County this year.

The exhibit focuses on the lives and achievements of eight women in Virginia, with a different list of names from different areas and time periods every year. Some featured women are still alive today.

The exhibit will travel to the county’s libraries and other historic sites from Wednesday through June 30. The Shenandoah County Library in Edinburg will host a free welcoming event from 7 to 9 p.m. May 31 to give those interested a full introduction.

Zachary Hottel, archivist for the library system, said he and others have researched prominent women and women’s movements in Shenandoah’s history and prepared a few panels to complement the traveling exhibit.

“We wanted to have that little something extra, especially for the event on the 31st, but because of space limitation it’s not going to be at every site that it visits,” he said.

He said many of the women featured in the traveling exhibit and the extra Shenandoah-themed addition served in roles that, at the time, were thought of as unusual for women to fill.

“The Library of Virginia has some other traveling exhibits, but this is something unique because they want to raise awareness for women’s history in the state,” he said. “They’re trying to raise awareness for what has previously been an understudied and underrepresented part of history.”

Hottel said the library also has a traveling exhibit on the historical contributions of African-Americans, but that the Shenandoah Library System missed the opportunity to schedule it in 2016.

“The process to get it occurs at the beginning of the year,” he said. “It would probably be something in the future that we would look at.”

Thus far, he said attendance and interest in Shenandoah Library programs focusing on the county’s African-American history have been encouraging.

“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback and there’s been pretty high turnout from nontraditional audiences -people that normally wouldn’t attend history events,” he said.

Hottel said there’s still plenty of archived material yet to research for Shenandoah women’s landmarks overtime, and he may someday look to submit a local name to make the exhibit’s list in future years.

He said the exhibit and the welcoming event will also provide an ideal window for locals to come and share their own knowledge and memories of accomplished women from Shenandoah County.

“We’re very excited to have this, I think it’s a very good opportunity for us,” he said.

For a full schedule and more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/hddmqv9.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com