What would these six women think, if they were put in a room together in the same way they have been grouped in this exhibit? Would Alfaretta Poorman Hart and Kate Phinney glare at each other from across the room? Would Carrie Gillenwaters and Dr. Anna Lemon Griffin swap stories about attending the Indiana Normal School or the Women's Medical College of Chicago? Would Carrie Dill Hageman or Josephine Jones Pierson be too busy to attend, given their extensive volunteerism?
It is hard to imagine that all of these women would be happy to be grouped together, but it is for that reason that we chose them. Each of their perspectives and experiences, while overlapping, are different and offer us a unique window into the history of Muncie and the broader United States in all of its complexity.
Moreover, this project shows precisely how complex the past is. These women made choices that did not always accord with contemporary expectations or the trends delineated in modern textbooks. Although they belonged to overlapping racial, ethnic, and income groups, each woman exercised free will with full autonomy. Several women lived unexpected lives, confronting and conquering huge social pressures. That fact alone makes each of them notable – they chose to create lives for themselves.
It is what makes us in the present notable as well. Although we do not yet know how our stories will end, what we do will be passed down by historians in one way or another. We hope that these histories have inspired you to live your life with as much grit, energy, and determination as each of these women displayed and that as historians, we have done each of these complex women the justice of remembrance that they deserve.