I recently spent an afternoon at the Laurel County History Museum and Genealogy Center researching some details of Laurel County history for a book I want to write.
While I was there, Judy Krahenbuhl, one of the volunteers whose time and talent helps keep the facility open and available to researchers like myself, showed me a large three-ring binder filled with biographies of Laurel County citizens from the past.
I didn’t count the number of individuals contained within the binder, but it was an impressive collection. Judy has worked long and hard in compiling such a wonderful resource.
After thumbing through the pages, looking at the names and reading some of the more interesting life stories, I only had one question.
“Where are the women?” I asked?
Within the 3-inch-thick binder filled with lives of Laurel Countians, only a handful were women, and most of them were only there by virtue of having married a well-known man.
So, where were the women?
I know there were Laurel County women who left their mark on Laurel County history. I know, because I’ve come across some of them in my reading and research about Laurel County’s past.
“I never really thought about them,” Judy replied.
“Apparently no one else has, either,” I sighed.
But that is about to change.
For the next several weeks, I intend to write about Laurel County women who made a difference, who did things important enough to be remembered–and not just because they were attached to an important man in the county’s history.
That’s not to say it wasn’t important for women to be part of a marriage and raise the children and run the household. It was very important. And still is.
But I want to bring your attention to some women who did other important things.
After all, most men in the history books (or in Judy’s biography notebook) aren’t just remembered for being good husbands and fathers who provided a stable home environment for their wives and children.
They may have been that and done that. But the reason they are written about and still remembered and talked about today is because they did more. They went above and beyond their roles as good men, good husbands, good fathers, good providers.
They helped the community in some way. They blazed trails. They acted courageously in the face of adversity. They did something for the greater good of those outside their immediate family.
And many women in Laurel County’s history did the same. Not only that, but they often had to overcome obstacles men didn’t — especially prejudice against their gender.
Yet these women persevered. They stood up for a cause greater then themselves. They made the community, the county, the state, the nation and the world a little better for their having been here.
And they, too, should be written about and talked about and remembered for their accomplishments.
So, beginning next week, I intend to write about Laurel County women who made a difference.
I hope you’ll join me.
Danna C. Estridge