Celebrate Women's History

Pool at Heart Castle Neptune Pool of the Hearst San Simeon Estate, designed by architect Julia Morgan
Photograph by Shannon Bell
The National Register of Historic Places is pleased to promote awareness of and appreciation for the historical accomplishments of American women during Women's History Month. As part of the celebration, this site showcases historic properties listed in the National Register, National Register publications, and National Park units commemorating the events and people, the designs and achievements that help illustrate the contribution of women to the Nation's history. Join the National Register in paying tribute to the many women who have made an impact in our past.



Mulberry Plantation
Mulberry Plantation
Mulberry Plantation,
Photograph by Stephen Olausen, 1997.

Recently designated a National Historic Landmark, Mulberry Plantation is the most important site associated with the writing of Mary Boykin Chesnut's remarkable first hand account of southern society during the Civil War. With her husband, James Chesnut, Jr.,--a prominent official in the Confederate government as well as heir to Mulberry Plantation, one of the largest plantations in the state--Mary Chesnut traveled in a circle that included the most influential people of the southern elite.

The diary she kept from February 1861 to June 1865 to record her experience during the war, and later revised with an eye toward publication, is acknowledged by literary scholars of the subject as the most important piece of literature produced by a Confederate author. Because of her interaction with a cast of characters from slaves, to common soldiers, to the elite of the Confederacy, she was able to characterize people of all classes and social stature and their reactions to the fall of the South and a way of life. The journal, also a testament to her personal views and observations, revealed an intense opposition to slavery and the position of women in southern culture. She felt that both women and slaves of the South suffered from deprivation of liberty, property, civil rights and equal protection under the law. The views she expressed would have been considered heretical and could have caused great harm to her social standing if made public. Because of the journal's value as a rich source of information on these and many other issues, historians have long recognized Mary Boykin Chesnut's contribution to our understanding of an important event in American history.


La Casa Grande of the Hearst Estate, Julia Morgan architect
Photograph by Shannon Bell

Architecture of Julia Morgan
Julia Morgan was one of the nation's first prominent female architects. Born in 1872, a native Californian, Morgan was one of two dozen female students to attend the University of California at Berkeley in 1890, where she was the only female studying civil engineering. Morgan then became the first female architect to graduate from the Ecolé des Beaux-Arts, in Paris. She returned to the West Coast and after working in another architect's office for two years, established her own practice in San Francisco at age 32. One of her best known works is the Hearst San Simeon Estate, recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Begun in 1919, this princely estate was intended to be a permanent family residence, a place of retreat, and a showcase for the many art treasures amassed by publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. Morgan was hired as the architect, as she had designed other buildings for Hearst and his mother Phoebe Hearst, a philanthropist devoted to women's causes who was impressed with Morgan. Morgan developed a recreational estate that included a magnificent Hispaño-Moresque mansion, known as La Casa Grande, several gardens, terraces, pools, and palatial guest houses. Heart's estate, which Morgan spent almost 20 years supervising, is an extravagant example of her work.

Old YWCA Building, Riverside, California
Old YWCA Building, Riverside, California, Julia Morgan architect
Photograph by E.McPeters, L. Heaston

In her 46-year career, Morgan designed nearly 800 buildings, including homes, schools, churches, women's clubs and other small institutional buildings throughout California and the West, but primarily in the San Francisco Bay area. Her first major commission was a campanile for Mills College, a women's college in Oakland, for which she later designed a library, gymnasium and social hall. She quickly became one of the ares's most distinguished architects, and particularly well known for designing facilities for women's organizations, such as the Berkeley Women's City Club. She designed 17 YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association) buildings, as well as its Asilomar Conference Grounds, a designated National Historic Landmark. The Mediterranean Revival Riverside YWCA was typical of her buildings for these small civic organizations, which incorporated practicality, convenience and elegant simplicity. Along with Bernard Maybeck, Morgan helped formulate a style specific to the Bay Area which blended the building with the landscape, used wood for both interior and exterior finishes, incorporated numerous windows, courtyards, porches and large spaces that conveyed an open, natural, informal feel.


Teaching with Historic Places
This program offers a series of award-winning lesson plans that use places listed in the National Register to enliven the study of history, social studies, and geography. TwHP has six ready-to-use lesson plans, available for free downloading, that examine important aspects of women's history.

Titles include:

Cogswell's Grant in Essex, MA, home of preservationist Nina Little.
Photographs by David Bohl, courtesy of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities.
Travel Itineraries
Travel to historic places that tell the fascinating stories of women in various professions including educators, artists, inventors, business leaders, and philanthropists.


Clara Barton Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross
Photograph courtesy of Clara Barton National Historic Site



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