Susan La Flesche Picotte (1865-1915), the first Native American female physician. Archive courtesy of Nebraska State Historical Society. Artwork by Amelie Chabannes.

Susan La Flesche Picotte (1865-1915), the first Native American female physician. Archive courtesy of Nebraska State Historical Society. Artwork by Amelie Chabannes.

UNLADYLIKE2020 presents the rich history of 26 American women, of very diverse professional and historical experiences, geographical, racial-ethnic, and class backgrounds, sexual orientation and gender identities. The series will include: the first woman to found a hospital on a Native American reservation, serve in the U.S. Congress, become a bank president, earn an international pilot's license, climb the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, sing opera at Carnegie Hall, and direct a feature-length movie, among others.  

Set to launch in 2020, the series will be released digitally on a weekly basis from March 1, the start of Women’s History Month, to August 26, 2020, to commemorate the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. Designed to appeal to youth, history enthusiasts, biography buffs, and those interested in women’s issues and women’s stories, UNLADYLIKE2020 will be accompanied by a vibrant social media campaign, educational curriculum in schools and universities, and community screenings and engagement events across the United States.

CAPTIVATING STORYTELLING
UNLADYLIKE2020 will showcase a contemporary look and feel, expanding what historical non-fiction storytelling can be and making history hip and exciting for a 21st century audience.

  • Breathtaking original artwork and animations will bring the past to life, and provide a colorful, eye-catching, signature look tying the series into one artistic whole.

  • To connect past to present, and highlight modern-day role models, each woman’s story will be told through compelling on-camera interviews with descendants, biographers, historians, and women breaking barriers in the same professions today.

  • The narration and voice-overs of the historic women’s own words, pulled from letters, diaries, speeches and memoirs, will be by female celebrities and thought-leaders.

  • The music will be inspired by that of today’s female pop artists and we will work with DJs to remix period music.

BRINGING HIDDEN HISTORY TO LIFE

Only a century ago, women in America did not have full right to vote, and had only recently won the right to own property or get divorced. They faced limited career and educational choices, were often expected to provide all of the childcare, and could even be arrested for wearing pants in public. Women who worked outside of the the home were usually single, widowed, divorced, poor, or women of color who had to contend not only with sexism but also severe racial discrimination.

But conditions were ripe for newfound freedoms. It was the Progressive Era, and the decades from the 1890s through the 1920s were a time of rapid urbanization, industrialization, technological advancement, and reform that resulted in significant changes to the country’s social, political, cultural, and economic institutions.

Women broke into new professions, stepped into leadership roles, and fought for suffrage and an end to race discrimination – challenging expected behavior for a ‘lady.’ As journalist and political activist Louise Bryant (1885-1936) proclaimed in 1919: “I do not want to be treated like a lady,” and as historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich echoed more recently, “well-behaved women seldom make history.”

UNLADYLIKE2020 will give 26 examples of women standing up and making change. While these trailblazers lived more than a century ago, their stories of overcoming unimaginable societal forces and conditions will model extraordinary persistence, courage, and leadership for the girls and women, and boys and men, of today.

Bessie Coleman (1892-1926), the first African American female aviator. Archive courtesy of NASA. Artwork by Amelie Chabannes.

Bessie Coleman (1892-1926), the first African American female aviator. Archive courtesy of NASA. Artwork by Amelie Chabannes.