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History Center to showcase women's roles in war



A Vietnam War protester, a World War I Red Cross worker and a Union housewife in the Civil War will act out the often overlooked roles of women in wars throughout United States history at an upcoming 
program.

“Women at War: The Home Front” is Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Monroe County History Center. Women will be in costume and play the characters in first person as they interact with museum guests in the galleries.

The museum is presenting the event as their Women’s History Month program. It will show how these different wars affected women on the Indiana home front, education and public programs manager Erin Anderson said.

“We wanted to do something like this to highlight the contributions that women made that people may overlook because these are not necessarily the glamorous, well-known superwoman kind of stories,” she said. “They’re rather the stories of the wives and the moms and the grandmas.”

Each of the women conducted their own research into their characters, Anderson said. None of them received a script.

They accepted the challenge with enthusiasm.

“It’s really good when you’re a history nerd, and you’re surrounded by other history nerds who are willing to do crazy things like this when you ask them,” Anderson said.

Some participants based their characters on specific people, while others created their own characters based on a combination of 
influences.

Anderson will be portraying a Union Army wife who is living in Hope, Indiana, while her husband fights for the 67th Indiana Infantry in the Civil War. She said she based her character on a woman from her hometown.

Although she focused on a single person for inspiration, Anderson said she wants her story to provide a general sense of what it was like to be a Northern woman in the Civil War.

Exhibits manager KayLee Witt will portray a Native American woman from the Piankashaw tribe during the War of 1812.

She said she did not base the character on a specific historical figure, but instead she wanted to create a character that would reflect a particular historical situation. Her character’s husband is a white man of French background who is fighting against the British and their Native American allies, including his wife’s family.

Witt said she wanted to portray the issue Native American faced in a war in which they fought other 
Native Americans.

She said she also wanted to show the significant role Native Americans played in the war.

“The Native Americans were very active in the politics of this territory, and I think that’s something that needs to be brought up about a war that people don’t think about much any way,” Witt said.

Other characters include a black woman who is protesting the Vietnam War, a Red Cross worker during World War I, a housewife from World War II and a war production worker during World War II.

Anderson said people often have a limited view of women’s roles in war throughout history.

“A lot of people think of women’s roles in war, and they only think of Rosie the Riveter and women in World War II,” she said. “There are similar experiences that go through all military conflicts, where back at home women are the ones keeping the kids fed and the businesses running and making sure things are still going.”

Although each person is representing a different person and time period, many of the stories and struggles are connected, Anderson said.

“These are tiny snapshots of a particular moment in time,” she said. “The names may change, but the stories remain the same.”

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