Utah women want to know more about their shared past, judging by the response to the "Women's History Trails" tours.
The tours - one last Saturday in Cache Valley and one this Saturday in Salt Lake - commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women. They are being given now because March is Women's History Month.Both tours sold out within days of being announced.
Linda Thatcher of the Utah State Historical Society says the tours - both of which include exhibits by Utah women artists and a bus tour of historical buildings, followed by a reception - offer a unique approach to history. "You may drive by a building all the time, but when you learn about the women who gave money to build it or who worked or lived in it, the building is a little different," Thatcher says.
Beth Quist, a commission member, says, "Our plan, with these tours, was to learn if there was enough interest to have the State Historical Society continue the tours annually. There is. Our media awards are going to be an annual event, too. Our goal is to improve the status of women in the state of Utah, and these are two ways we can do that."
The Governor's Commission has taken other steps to improve the status and economic environment for women in Utah and change the image of "a state not usually considered to be a leader in women's issues," says Quist. "We have a committee called GROW, for example, that is responding to surveys about problems women face when they relocate to Utah. GROW has a computer network to link newcomers with Utah women who have similar interests and professions.
"Another of our committees published a book identifying which laws affect women. We've also got a leadership registry to help the governor identify women he could appoint to various boards and commissions."
The commission has also supported projects on child care, spouse abuse and child abuse.
The 25th anniversary celebration is sponsored by the Utah Endowment for Humanities, the Utah Heritage Foundation, the Utah State Historical Society and the Utah Women's History Association. Kathleen Mason is the chairwoman; for more information about the Utah Governor's Commission on the Status of Women, call her at 272-7296.