Legislation authorizing a proposed National Museum of Women’s History has advanced through two House committees. The AHA has expressed concern that the organization promoting the project has disbanded its Scholarly Advisory Council, which was made up of 18 leading historians of women’s history. In addition, the legislation as written does not require that any historians or museum professionals be appointed to the eight-member bipartisan commission it would establish.
The legislation was passed out of committee by the Committee on House Administration on April 2 and the House Committee on Natural Resources on April 9. Proponents have been seeking congressional approval for the project since 1997. According to the National Journal, the legislation could come up for a vote in the House of Representatives this year. Sonya Michel, a member of the disbanded Scholarly Advisory Council, contacted the AHA’s Committee on Women Historians to express concern about the situation. AHA President Jan Goldstein and Executive Director Jim Grossman sent a letter to Candice Miller (R-MI) and Robert Brady (D-PA) and the staff of the Committee on House Administration and to Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
We will be watching as the legislation goes before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks. The Senate version of the legislation, S. 398, is sponsored by Susan M. Collins (R-ME). If the legislation passes both houses of Congress, an eight-person commission will be formed to consider the potential costs of the museum, which would be privately funded, explore potential locations, and recommend whether the museum should be part of the Smithsonian Institution.