Inclusive Historical Narratives:
Lessons from Mary Ritter Beard and Carter G. Woodson
This article examines the work of Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) and Mary Ritter Beard (1876-1958), two early 20th century historians and educators who dedicated their professional lives to the study and advancement of Black history and women’s history respectively. In addition to their historical research and prolific publishing, Woodson and Beard devoted significant time and energy advocating an inclusive historical narrative in US schools and colleges. This work focuses on three of their primary goals: (1) challenging and correcting the accuracy of the historical record, (2) using history as a tool for mitigating racial and gender stereotypes, and (3) bringing women’s history and Black history to the public. The article concludes with a discussion of the relevance and usefulness for contemporary educators of strategies used by Beard and Woodson as they sought to correct the historical record and develop curriculum that would engage all students.
Keywords: Black history, women’s history, Mary Ritter Beard, Carter G. Woodson, historical role models, curriculum