The Kentucky Commission on Women is dedicated to
elevating the status of women and girls in the Commonwealth,
empowering them to overcome barriers to equity, and
expanding opportunities to achieve their fullest potential.


Kentucky Women Remembered

In 1978, the Kentucky Commission on Women (KCW) initiated a campaign to bring attention to the outstanding women who made significant contributions to Kentucky's history, but had been omitted from historical accounts. Kentucky Women Excel began as a KCW-sponsored exhibit at the 1978 Kentucky State Fair, and included watercolor portraits of six women from various backgrounds who worked in non-traditional ways during their lifetimes.

Through research and contact with descendants, KCW staff identified a diverse group of women from all over the state who, with courage, ability and determination, accomplished what would have been deemed impossible by conventional wisdom of their time. Initially, the collection hung in the KCW office and occasionally, when funds allowed, traveled to libraries and elsewhere in an effort to establish women's rightful place in Kentucky's history.

In 1996, nearly 20 years after KCW director Helen Howard Hughes and her staff commissioned 17 portraits, the exhibit found a permanent home in the Capitol – a more appropriate balance to the statues and busts of men who impacted Kentucky’s history. To date, the exhibit boasts more than 60 portraits of some of Kentucky's outstanding women.

Thousands of visitors to the Capitol view the portraits each year and learn about the heritage and contributions of women in the Commonwealth. The Kentucky Women Remembered Committee selects up to three outstanding Kentucky women to become part of the expanding exhibit. Nominees must have been born in or spent a significant part of their lives in Kentucky, strengthened the state through determination, personal contributions and outstanding work, shown exemplary leadership and achievement in elevating the status of women, and may be living or deceased.​​​​