March marks Women’s History Month—and March 8, International Women’s Day—and as a tribute to many powerful women who have made remarkable achievements around the world, the New York Times has given obituaries to 15 women who the paper has overlooked.
As the Times points out, “Obituary writing is more about life than death: the last word, a testament to a human contribution,” and that is certainly true. Since the newspaper began publishing obits in 1851—of opera singers, heads of state, the person who named the Slinky, the person who created Stove Top stuffing, among others—a vast majority reported on the lives and successes of white men, often neglecting to give women their due. “Even in the last two years, just over one in five of our subjects were female,” the Times wrote.
The women the paper is now recognizing and remembering include Ida B. Wells, who created a movement against lynching; Charlotte Brontë, who wrote Jane Eyre; Madhubala, a hypnotizing Bollywood actress; Qiu Jin, who was known as China’s Joan of Arc; and the famed photographer Diane Arbus (pictured above).
"Overlooked" has now become part of the obituaries section, and the New York Times will grow the collection week by week, broadening their scope along the way.
Readers can be part of the conversation too, by filling out this form to propose candidates for the obituary feature. You can also read an essay that the Times obituaries editor wrote on why most obituaries are still on white men, and how he plans to change that.