Sage Hill junior makes ‘herstory’ in publishing book on women in history

Anne Chen, a junior at Sage Hill School, recently published a book.
Anne Chen, a junior at Sage Hill School, recently published a book as part of her Gold Award project for the Girl Scouts.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Anne Chen has her eyes on the Girl Scout Gold Award and, though it’s taken her last summer to do it, she finished at least one part of the project in January: an activity book that she wrote on women in history, “How to Make HERSTORY,” that is geared toward young girls between fifth grade and junior high.

An enthusiastic reader and writer, Chen, 16, said she decided her topic would be on women empowerment and history fairly early on and that she’d write a book — something that she said just made sense to her to do, given her interests.

For the record:

12:17 p.m. March 27, 2023A previous version of this story incorrectly named the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. as the Girl Scouts of America.

“A really big part of my project was creating this book for younger girls,” the Sage Hill junior said. “One of the biggest things I had in mind when I was working on the project is that women’s history isn’t really covered in primary education, especially in elementary and middle school. When you start learning about it, it really starts in high school. You start learning about Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but it’s not really [deeply] embedded in a lot of school curriculum.”

Anne Chen, a junior at Sage Hill School, recently published "How to Make HERSTORY."
“How to Make HERSTORY” is currently available for purchase on Amazon. The book was written by Anne Chen, a junior at Sage Hill School, as part of her Gold Award project for the Girl Scouts.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn and can be pursued by scouts between ninth and 12th grade, though they have up until Sept. 30 of the year that they graduate from high school to submit their final report.

Chen said research for her book started last summer and that she didn’t at first know exactly who she wanted to highlight. With time and some help from her history teacher, she eventually settled on about 20 female figures she considered inspiring, which she then divided across three separate sections: “Leaders and Activists,” “Trailblazers and Pioneers” and “Storytellers and Thinkers.”

Of them, Chen mentioned Girl Scouts of the USA founder Juliette Gordon Low; founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale; and designer and sculptor Maya Lin. Nightingale and Lin’s mentions were suggested by her family, she said. The other history-making women she added to the collection included not only names she was previously familiar with but also some she came across while doing her research.

Chen said she included a quote from Low on the back of the book “because she’s the kind of person who really inspired this and she was the founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA I really wanted to highlight her because without her my project probably wouldn’t even exist.”

She did much of the writing in the summer, then picked it up again in the fall before finalizing the book with a graphic designer in December. By January, it was published and is now available for purchase on Amazon.

Chen said she will be hosting a workshop at this year’s GEMfest, hosted at Sage Hill School. During the event participants will work together on activities related to famous female figures in history and each participant will be receiving their own copy of “How to Make HERSTORY.”

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