Since 1987 the US has celebrated “Women’s History Month” each March. Every year institutions like the Library of Congress, the National Park Service, and the Smithsonian Institution observe this month by paying tribute to the women who have come before us. Likewise, the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites are celebrating, and we here at the Limberlost SHS are proud to honor Gene Stratton-Porter and her role in history.
On Saturday March 4, the Indiana State Museum held a conference called “Remarkable Women.” This year’s theme was “Women in Science,” and if there is anyone who can be considered a remarkable woman of science, it’s certainly Mrs. Porter.
Visitors to the museum were able to interact with the State Historic Sites who came to showcase their own women in science. At the Limberlost booth, we highlighted Gene’s nature books, her work as a photographer, and showed off some bird nests and moth cocoons. There were quite a few fans of Mrs. Porter—from readers who shared their favorite books, to scientists like Purdue professor of entomology Tom Turpin who shared how he was inspired by Gene’s work with moths. On the contrary, many people were hearing about Gene for the first time and were surprised at the many roles she played. Both adults and children alike enjoyed learning about orioles, cecropias, and the Limberlost.
About half of Indiana’s State Historic Sites were in attendance. New Harmony SHS featured Lucy Say and her connection to the site. The folks from Culbertson Mansion led a hands-on activity where kids could create their own “stenciled ceiling.” This simulated artist Kris Lemmon’s restoration work at the mansion. T.C. Steele SHS focused on Selma Steele and her work as a naturalist. At the Angel Mounds display, visitors could go on an archeological dig. Finally, Rhonda Deeg, a stained glass artist from Madison, showed guests how she helps restore historic windows and lamps.
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., four different speaking presentations were held, including keynote speaker Ora Pescoviz, M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist and researcher. Also in attendance was a fourth grade class from Cumberland Elementary School. Along with their teacher and a group of Purdue University students, they are working to have the Say’s Firefly named as Indiana’s State Insect.
The Remarkable Women event was a great way to showcase some of Indiana’s noteworthy ladies of science—both past and present. Here at the Limberlost, we are fortunate to celebrate women’s history everyday as we share the story of Gene Stratton-Porter with our guests. We invite you to celebrate Women’s History Month with us by taking a tour of the Limberlost Cabin or reading one of Gene’s many books!