Putting Girls in their Rightful Place in History

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I never liked history, I thought it was memorizing names and dates from long ago, people I didn’t care about or have a connection to. Boring, dead people who fought boring battles. I seethed when my mom and guidance counselor forced me to take AP US History in high school because “it will be good practice for college.”

Mr. Douglas O’Brien made history come alive. He made history interesting, exciting, animated, and most of all, relevant to my life. From his teaching, I learned how people, shaped by and shaping culture, made decisions that we’re still coping with today- for better or worse. Mr. O’Brien ignited my passion for the past; one I followed through college and into graduate school.

Throughout my academic career, I met so many amazing, courageous, inspiring young women — and girls — that contributed to American history in some way. But, I didn’t learn a lot about historical actresses until college. There is a certain joy I get from reading about an amazing woman that stood up for her rights and made change, like “Hell yeah you did, girl!”

It dawned on me in college, and again many times during my MissHeard career, that many historical actresses were in fact teens and young women, although they were not thought of that way during their lifetime (or even in historical record). Part of the reason is that childhood and teen-dom are new inventions. The way we think of “being a teen” today didn’t really exist until the 1900s. The further back we go, the more difficult it is to find birthdates and ages of historical actresses.  

One day I had my aha moment: introduce teen girls to the girls and young women to those who shaped (and shape) our nation. But how? When you start to dig into history beyond the typical textbook, it turns out there are loads of women and girls who changed American history. Inspired by another planner I got as a gift, I decided to create an “On This Day” of girls’ history planner to share stories of historically important women and girls. I researched and edited, trying to include as many women and girls as possible that fit within the parameters (American, under 25 when she made history). The Girl Powered Planner is becoming a reality and it’s something I’m very proud of.

As much as I wanted to include long biographies about every single person mentioned (and many who are not), I had to stop myself. I’m not writing a tome that needs to be carried in a wheelbarrow, for one. Instead, the Girl Powered Planner is a simple introduction, a handshake with bold, brave, courageous women and girls, past and present. My hope is that when someone finds someone that interests her, she will be inspired to read more about her story.

Girls history is American history. Period. Too often girls and young women — especially marginalized girls — are not seen in American history. These stories should be told, and girls and young women deserve to see themselves represented in our nation’s history- before graduate school.


Author: Lindsey Turnbull

Lindsey Turnbull is the CEO and Founder of MissHeard Media, which creates global community through their blog, and fosters tween and teen girls’ growth at live events. She founded MissHeard Media to elevate girls’ voices around the world and encourage empathy and understanding. Lindsey holds her master’s degree in Public History from the University of Central Florida, which recently named her a “30 Under 30” Trailblazing Alum.  The Girl Powered Planner blends all of her passions: empowering girls, history, and writing to-do lists.