The First Hoosier Woman Conference Will Be Held In Indianapolis Next Month

The conference is hosted by several different organizations, including the Indiana State Library, the Indiana Historical Bureau, and the Department of Natural Resources. The event is part of Indiana’s Bicentennial Celebration.  Hoosier Women at Work was created because very few bicentennial events this year had a focus on women.

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“We wanted it to be about women’s work. It encompassed more than paid wages, more than traditional labor,” Marcia Caudell, a Indiana State Library employee and one of the event’s committee members, said. “Women have not been recognized as prime contributors.”

Academics from several organizations and universities, including IUPUI, will be giving talks on different topics related to women’s history. Speakers from IUPUI include Dr. Anita Morgan, Norma B. Erickson, Jyoti Verderame and others. The conference was opened up to every college and university in the state, both for speakers and the opportunity to attend.

According to the event’s website, topics that will be discussed include public welfare, agriculture, caring for home and family, and wage earning occupations.

“We don’t really have an understanding of women’s history,” Morgan said. “Much more work needs to be done.”

The keynote speaker at the conference is Dr. Nancy Gabin, an associate professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Purdue University.

Not every person involved in the conference is a professional historian. Speakers from the Indiana Department of Corrections will be giving a presentation through video conference on early women’s prisons in the state.

“This is not just an academic quest. We’re involved in public history,” Caudell said. “You don’t have to be an academic to contribute to history.”

According to Morgan, this event is the first women’s history conference to be held in Indiana. A similar conference was held in 2000, but it covered all aspects of Indiana history.

The majority of the event will focus on the past, but the final session will look at where women’s history is today and the direction that it is heading in the future.

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“The presentation and preservation of history is always evolving,” Caudell said.

After the conference, the goal of the committee is to put all of the papers from the conference onto one website, so that there will be an easily accessible venue for research into women’s history.The Indiana State Library is also involved in other projects through the bicentennial year, both web-based and in-house. 

Hoosier Women at Work is comprised of nine sessions, plus a final plenary session. The conference cost is $10 for students and $20 for others. The cost covers lunch and attendance to all sessions, which begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m.

The conference will take place on Saturday, March 26, 2016 at the Indiana State Library, which is located at 315 W. Ohio Street in Indianapolis. Registration is required to attend. The registration form can be downloaded here

“Indiana wouldn’t be where it is today, 200 years later, without women’s labor,” Caudell said.