Women have played a major role in the development and evolution of Ohio. They have contributed immensely to the survival of their families and their people. This was evident with native women and continued to be so as the first white women arrived in what would be Ohio during the 1770s.White women faced many challenges in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. They and their families lived in primitive conditions until land could be cleared and a cabin built. Having left friends and family behind in the East, many women faced homesickness and isolation. As Ohio developed during the nineteenth century, women made enormous contributions to life in the state. They contributed to the family's economic well-being by making much of what the family needed to survive. In addition to taking care of the home and raising children, women provided medical care, raised livestock, grew vegetable gardens to supplement the family's diet, made butter, candles, and soap, preserved food for the winter months, and made their family's clothing, often from cloth that they wove themselves.
Women also made significant contributions to their communities. In particular, women were influential in developing churches and schools, believing that these institutions had a civilizing effect on society. Women also played an important role in reforming the wild frontier. They organized various reform movements, such as temperance associations, to try to instill good moral values in their fellow Ohioans. They also played important roles in other reform movements, including abolition and prison reform.
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, women continued to care for their families. Women increasingly found employment in Ohio factories. They continued to contribute to cultural developments in the state, especially in the arts, in reform movements, and in education. During the twentieth century, women's contributions during World War I and World War II inspired many men and women to demand equal rights with men. While people still debate whether Americans of all genders enjoy true equality with each other, it remains indisputable that dramatic improvements have occurred in both the United States of America and in Ohio over the past two centuries since Ohio's statehood.
To learn more about the important contributions of women to Ohio's history, please browse these entries at your leisure.