History Sub-Committee

To realize the Plaza’s mission to become a valuable resource on women’s lives in Arizona, the History Sub-Committee generated a list of over 250 names of women who should be honored in the Plaza and provided brief biographies for approximately seventy-five of them. The committee paid attention to identifying African-American, Asian-American, Latina , American Indian, and working-class women to counter past patterns of exclusion. These lists were provided to the Fundraising Committee for use in contacting donors to provide suggestions for potential honoree, and for the Publicity Sub-Committee for use in advertising the value of the Plaza. 

The committee was chaired by Laurel Wilkening until December 2002; Anna Jolivet took over as chair when Wilkening stepped down. Both women had a long term interest in Arizona history and a commitment to educating others on the subject. Other members of the committee were Kathy Howard, librarian Ruth Dickstein, Women’s Studies faculty member Judy Temple. During the 2001-2002 academic year they were joined by an enthusiastic graduate student from the School of Information and Library Sciences, Sonya Smith Wong. Over the years, Adela Allen, Cathy Miller, Esther Tang, and Penny Waterstone attended meetings and helped the committee identify possible honorees. 

In addition to conducting research, the committee worked to develop an honoree information form that would ensure comparable information was collected on honorees. A slightly modified version of this form is still used. They went on to encourage the development of a Web site to display the information on honorees, and they investigated the possibilities for building a kiosk at the Plaza to allow visitors to retrieve information about honorees. The proposed kiosk was eventually incorporated into Plaza plan in 2005 when the needed funds were raised, and was finally realized with its dedication in spring 2009. The committee kept the seriousness of documenting women’s history in the foreground through all the challenges of construction and fundraising. The history committee never wavered from the understanding that to honor women meant recognizing their contribution to society.