Grant Helps Author Examine Milestone in Women’s Push for Equality


Craig Koscho

Issues of the moment for many women have a modern urgency, and it can seem as if the concept of gender equality and the rights that such a balanced field suggest are some recent revelation.

Professor Mona Siegel

Professor Mona Siegel

But the debate and fight to turn demands into reality have been going on a long time.

Sacramento State History Professor Mona Siegel is focusing on one important moment in that struggle from 100 years ago – when relief from the ending of a bloody world war led to hope that old ways would change and that women would be among the beneficiaries.

Siegel is working on a book about the history of women’s rights, thanks in part to a $50,400 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She hopes to complete the book she has been researching for two years by the end of 2018. She does not yet have a publisher.

More than Half of Humanity: The Women Who Shaped the Peace of 1919 will look at the women who gathered in Paris, marched in Cairo and Beijing, and organized in Zurich and Washington, D.C., all seeking to influence the new world order that would emerge from the Paris Peace Conference following the end of World War I.

Siegel’s interest in the subject started when she took a Women’s Peace History course as an undergraduate student at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The campus was home to the archives of the feminist-pacifist conference that had been held in Zurich concurrently with the Paris talks, and Siegel began digging through dusty boxes of documents.

“For the first time, I realized there were women who tried to change the world before my generation,” says Siegel, whose research took her to 14 archives around the world. 

Jeffrey Wilson, Sac State’s History Department chair, says research and writing of scholars such as Siegel raise the University’s profile and bring important facts and perspectives back into the classroom.

“For many years historians have understood the importance of the various movements for women’s rights that gained momentum after the First World War,” Wilson says. “Professor Siegel is now working to tie the stories of these campaigns together.”

“I find it particularly interesting that here we are, 100 years later, with so many issues surrounding gender equality still dominating public conversation,” says Siegel. “The issues the book will present are still very relevant in the world we live in today.”


Craig Koscho

Craig Koscho has served as a Sac State writer and public information officer for 11 years. Before that, he worked in television production and newspaper reporting and editing. Craig says, “I have the best job on campus: promoting the University’s arts programs.”