Recently in Women Making History Category

NoBloPo #21: Feminism Friday

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Remember my Women Making History series? I've been wanting to revisit it. In particular, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite entries. These are the ones I was most pleasantly surprised by, or most impressed by, or just most into. So, without further ado:

Top 5 Women Making History (in no particular order)


  • Nellie Bly (1864-1922): Gotta love a muckraking journalist, and Nellie Bly was one of the first women to really get into it. I knew nothing about her before the series.

  • Dorothy Day (1897-1980): I love Dorothy Day. She basically believed that everyone deserved a chance and that it was her privilege and responsibility to do whatever she could to help. The world needs more like her.

  • Dolores Huerta (b. 1930): I'm a big sucker for a labor activist, and Dolores Huerta is one of the best.

  • Dian Fossey (1932-1985): Another personal hero of mine, Dian Fossey revolutionized the way we think about primates. She was a scientist, a radical, and a hell of a woman.

  • Dorothea Dix (1802-1887): This one was a sad story I knew nothing about previous to doing this project. Dix was a very early activist on behalf of the mentally ill. And she died in a mental hospital.

Wanna read about some incredible women today? There's a place to start.

3 Comments

Hello:

Love your blog, for a week or so it just dissapeared, I wasa bit dissapointed about that.

Great to see you back

Beatriz

My thanks for this good work.
When any aspect of history is buried, expunged, or forgotten, it is not history, but a series of anecdotes.
My mother and grandmother were both remarkable women in the greater sense. Nana had the first car in Oregon to be owned IN HER OWN RIGHT by a woman. she had many other memories that I was too young to rember. Mom Sold magazine subscriptions at 13, went to work full time at 14 got a scholorship at 17, Joinedthe WAAC at 23 as a private, at war's end was a captain in the WAC. Raised me til I was big enough to protect her instead of the other way around and returned to the Civil Service. She retired in 1981 and served her causes until her death . Lesson learned from them is Never dismiss anything as beneith notice.

Thanks again
Doug Polhamius

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#105: Women's International League for Peace & Freedom

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Women's International League for Peace & Freedom photo(Photo is of a large group of women, probably circa 1915-1920 or so, holding a large banner that says "Peace".)

This is the end, y'all. Last name on the poster. It's been a good run, huh?

In 1915, American suffragists and peace activists including Jane Addams and Carrie Chapman Cat formed the Women's Peace Party (WPP). The organization was formed to work towards suffrage and peace. The WPP then sent representatives to the International Women's Congress for Peace and Freedom in The Hague, a meeting of international women peace activists. The international meeting members adopted much of the same platform as the WPP and the members formed the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace (ICWPP), with Jane Addams as its first president.

Both in the U.S. and internationally, women worked to end World War I. The international group met again in 1919 and renamed itself the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF). At that point, the League moved its headquarters to Geneva, to be closer to the League of Nations.

Since World War I, the WILPF has consistently worked again war and for peace all over the world. In 1932, the WILPF collected six million signatures for the World Disarmament Petition. In the 1960s and 1970s, they worked against nuclear testing, including an international disarmament conference in 1975. They have agitated, worked, and invested human rights abuses.

Two WILPF leaders have received Nobel Peace Prizes (Jane Addams in 1931 and Emily Greene Balch in 1946).

In 1998, the WILPF reestablished its American presence, opening an office in Washington D.C. The established goals of the organization are:
* the equality of all people in a world free of sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia,
* the guarantee of fundamental human rights including the right to sustainable development,
* an end to all forms of violence: rape, battering, exploitation, intervention and war,
* the transfer of world resources from military to human needs, leading to economic justice within and among nations, and
* world disarmament and peaceful resolution of international conflicts via the United Nations.

I can get with that.

Sources:
WILPF USA
Wikipedia

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I'm going to miss reading about all the people you've covered. It's been interesting AND helped me win at trivial pursuit!

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#104: "Granny D" Doris Haddock

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Granny D Haddock(The photo is a face shot of Granny D Haddock. She is an elderly woman with a mischievous look on her face and a large hat.)

Granny D. Haddock was born Ethel Doris Rollins in 1910 in New Hampshire. She attended Emerson College for three years, then quit when she married. She and her husband started their family during the Great Depression, and Granny D (then just Doris) worked in a shoe factory for 20 years.

In the early 1960s, Doris and her husband agitated against nuclear testing in Alaska. After a ten-year battle with Alzheimer's, her husband died.

In the mid-1990s, Doris became involved in the movement for campaign finance reform. On January 1, 1999, she embarked on a legendary walk of support for reform, leaving the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and walking every day for 14 months. She walked about ten miles per day, at total of over 3,200 miles, and made speeches along the way, ending in Washington, D.C. When she arrived in D.C., Doris, now widely known as Granny D, was 90 years old.

In 2004, Granny D ran for United States Senate in New Hampshire. At 94, she was one of the oldest people ever to run for Congress. She lost.

Granny D has published two books and been the subject of a documentary, "Run Granny Run," about her Senate campaign.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Awakened Woman
Run Granny Run

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#103: Ann Bancroft

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ann bancroft(The photo is of Ann Bancroft. It is a black and white, she is smiling and has short hair and sensible looking clothes.)

First, a note. Ann Bancroft is also the name of the classic actress who played Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate. This is about the other Ann Bancroft.

Ann Bancroft was born in 1955 in Minnesota. She grew up in Minnesota, mostly outdoors, except for two years (fifth and sixth grades) spent in Kenya with her family.

Ann attended the University of Oregon, where she got a BA in physical education. After graduating, she taught special education and PE in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and coached high school sports.

In 1986, Ann was a member of the Steger International Polar Exploration team, becoming the first woman in known history ever to go across the ice to the North Pole on a dogsled. She continued her explorations in 1992, when she led the first women's east to west crossing of Greenland, and again in 1993, when she led a women's expedition across the South Pole. In 2001, Ann took her last major expedition, going with Norwegian explorer Liv Arnesen to become the first women to sail and ski across Antarctica.

In 1987, Ann was named Ms. magazine's Woman of the Year. In 1995, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. She is the founded of the Ann Bancroft Foundation, a pro-female non-profit that provides support for girls and women trying to achieve their dreams. She and Liv Arnesen also founded Bancroft Arnesen Explore, a cooperative effort to inspire young women by speaking about their Antarctic adventure.

In 2007, Ann and Liv attempted an Arctic trek, but they were forced to cancel it seven days in due to safety concerns. Ann currently lives in Minnesota, where she is a spokesperson for the Learning Disabilities Association, Wilderness Inquiry and Girl Scouts of the US. She is also a judge for entrance into the National Women's Hall of Fame and for the Nuclear-Free Awards.

Sources:
Ann Bancroft Foundation
Bancroft Arnesen Explore
National Women's Hall of Fame

1 Comments

Okay, I'm being totally picky but it is one of my silly pet peeves: it is the Girl Scouts of the USA. (Yes, it is the Boy Scouts of the US.)

I feel better now. :)

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#102: Julia Butterfly Hill

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julia butterfly hill in a tree(The photo is of Julia Butterfly Hill, a youngish dark haired woman, sitting in a large tree and hugging it.)

Environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill was born in 1974 in Arkansas. Her father was a preacher and she grew up poor. Julia went to college, studied business, and opened a restaurant at the age of 20.

In 1996, Julia was in a serious car accident, resulting in a mild brain injury. After the accident, Julia went on what has been described as a "spiritual quest." She intended originally to go to the Far East, but never made it farther than the West Coast. Once she was on the West Coast, she learned about the destruction of old growth redwood forests and decided to do something about it.

On December 10, 1997, Julia climbed into a large redwood she called Luna, staging a tree sit-in. Supported by Earth First!, Julia broke all records, engaging in her protest for 738 days without once touching the ground. Before agreeing to come down, Julia struck a deal with the tree's owner, Pacific Lumber/Maxxam Corporation, that it would not be cut down and that a three-acre buffer zone around it would be preserved. As part of the deal, $50,000 earned by Julia and Earth First! was paid to the corporation, which then donated it to a local university for the study of sustainable forestry.

After her time in Luna, Julia continued to agitate for the environment, helping found the Circle of Life Foundation in 1999. In 2003, she organized a "We the Planet" tour, featuring musicians, artists, and speakers traveling around the country to promote environmental sustainability.

Julia has written one book, The Legacy of Luna, and co-authored another, One Makes a Difference. She has also been the subject of two documentaries, Butterfly (2000) and Tree Sit: The Art of Resistance (2005).

Sources:
Wikipedia
Ecology Hall of Fame
Collage Foundation

1 Comments

Julia "Butterfly" Hill is one of the most courageous and noble people I have ever met. She's one of my favorite "personal heros" on this beautiful Earth... What a sweet soul, and what a natural-born leader. ONE PERSON REALLY CAN MAKE A DIFFERNCE!

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#101: Virginia Durr

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Virginia Durr(The photo is of a middle aged woman, Virginia Durr, unsmiling, with glasses.)

Virginia Foster Durr is one the women about whom I knew little to nothing before starting this project, and now I want to know more about her. She sounds like she was incredible. Learning about people like her is so what makes this worthwhile.

Virginia was born in Alabama in 1903. Her family was wealthy, prominent, and privileged. Virginia grew up a Southern belle, and a self-described "deep-dyed Southern bigot."

In 1921, Virginia enrolled at Wellesley College. At Wellesley, she got her first taste of Northern integration, to which she at first resisted. However, by the time she was forced to leave Wellesley in 1923 due to a family financial crisis, she had begun to think outside her upbringing in terms of both race and gender.

Returning to Alabama, Virginia took a job at the Birmingham Bar Library, where she met her husband, Clifford Durr. They married in 1926.

In 1932, Virginia and Clifford moved to Washington D.C. They at first intended to stay only a short time, but ended up there for 16 years. Virginia joined the Women's National Democratic Club and began to get involved in politics. She worked especially hard to help pass the 1965 Voting Rights act and elimination of the poll tax. In 1938, Virginia helped found the Southern Conference on Human Welfare, an interracial organization working towards Southern desegregation. In 1948, Virginia ran (unsuccessfully) for Senate on the Progressive Party ticket.

In 1951, the Durrs returned to Alabama. Throughout several decades, Clifford and Virginia worked for Civil Rights. In 1955, they bailed Rosa Parks out of jail after she refused to give up her bus seat. In the early 1960s, the Durrs opened their home to Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizers.

Virginia and Clifford had four children. He died in 1975. In her later years, Virginia worked towards nuclear disarmament with the same passion she had shown for Civil Rights work. In 1985, Virginia published her autobiography, Outside the
Magic Circle: The Autobiography of Virginia Foster Durr
.

Virginia died in 1999. Upon hearing of her death, Rosa Parks remarked that her "upbringing of privilege did not prohibit her from wanting equality for all people. She was a lady and a scholar, and I will miss her."

Sources:
Wellesley College
Tolerance.org
Wikipedia
Unitarian Universalist Association

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#100: Jane Addams

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Jane AddamsJane Addams is a personal heroine of my college professor/mentor, so I know a thing or three about her. She was pretty awesome. Observe:

Jane was born in 1860 in Illinois, the sixth child in a prosperous family. Her mother died when she was two, and her father remarried soon after, his second wife bringing with her two stepbrothers. She was educated in both the U.S. and Europe, graduating from Rockford College in 1882. She wanted to go on to medical school after college, but was not allowed by her parents, who felt too much education would make her a bad prospect for marriage.

In her 20s, Jane traveled extensively in Europe, visiting, among other places, Toynebee Hall, a settlement house in London. Though Jane was not immediately convinced that she should also start a settlement house, it must have sparked a notion in her head.

In 1889, Jane and her friend Ellen Gates Starr opened Hull House in Chicago. Hull House was one of the United States' first settlement houses. Hull House included a night school for adults, kindergarten classes, clubs for older children, a public kitchen, an art gallery, a coffeehouse, a gymnasium, a girls club, a swimming pool, a book bindery, a music school, a drama group, a library, and an employment bureau. Projects that branched out from it included a protective service for immigrants and nation's first juvenile court. At its peak, Hull House served more than 2,000 patrons a week.

Jane wrote a lot about Hull House projects, including eleven books and countless articles. She also spoke widely and agitated for legislation, and was invaluable in passing protective legislation for working women and children, including the Federal Child Labor Law in 1916.

Jane was also the first vice-president of the National Women's Suffrage Association, in 1911. She was active in the Consumer's League, and was the first woman president of the National Conference of Social Work. She also helped found the American Civil Liberties Union in 1920.

Later in her life, Jane was active in the peace movement. She participated in the International Congress of Women at The Hague in 1915 and worked with the Women's Peace Party (later the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, of which she was the first president). In 1931, she was given a Nobel Peace Prize for her work.

Jane lived and worked at Hull House until her death in 1935.

Sources:
Wikipedia
University of Illinois at Chicago
Women in History
Nobelprize.org

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#99: Madonna

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smiling picture of madonnaWhether or not Madonna counts as a feminist icon depends wholly on who you ask. However, few would disagree that she's a woman who has made history. So she's on the list.

Madonna was born in Michigan in 1958. She was the third of six children born to an Italian-American father and a French-Canadian mother. Her mother died when she was five, and her father remarried and had two more children.

After graduating high school, Madonna received a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan. At the end of her sophomore year, in 1977, she quit UM and moved to New York to pursue her career as a dancer.

When she moved to New York, Madonna had no money and worked as a nude model, as well as taking a job at Dunkin' Donuts. Eventually, however, she found work in modern dance companies. Throughout the late 70s and early 80s Madonna continued to dance and formed two short-lived rock bands.

In 1982, Madonna signed her first record deal, with Warner Bros. spin-off Sire Records. Her earliest releases were hits in the dance community, but did not have mainstream success. However, three singles off her debut full-length album, Madonna, were eventually successful ("Holiday," "Borderline," and "Lucky Star"), once they were remixed by Jellybean Benitez. With the success of these songs and their music videos, girls all over the country began sporting Madonna-influenced styles, including lace gloves and bleached hair. Madonna's became a definitive female style of the 1980s.

Madonna's next album, Like a Virgin, was immediately successful. Then, in the mid-80s, Madonna began her acting career, appearing in films such as Desperately Seeking Susan.

Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, Madonna continued to release albums (True Blue, Like a Prayer) and appear in films (Who's That Girl?, Dick Tracy). She became very controversial, particularly for the Catholic symbolism used in the video for "Like a Prayer." Following up on that controversy, she released first the sexually explicit music video for "Justify my Love" and then the sexually explicit tour documentary "Truth or Dare." As her controversy grew, so did her fame.

In the mid 1990s, Madonna continued to morph into different characters and surprise and delight her audiences. She released the album Erotica, included topless dancers in her live shows, and produced a coffee table book, Sex, which included sexual and nude photographs of herself and others. She then took a turn back to her R&B roots with the release of her 1994 album, Bedtime Stories.

In 1996, Madonna released her most critically successful film, the musical Evita. She received a Golden Globe for her role in the film, and "You Must Love Me," a song written specifically for the film, won an Academy Award.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Madonna tried out more new sounds, releasing a down-tempo album, Ray of Light, in 1998, and house-influenced album, Music, in 2000. Since then, she has released two more albums, 2003's American Life and 2005's Confessions on a Dance Floor. She's also continued to tour.

Madonna has two children, Lourdes (born in 1996) and Rocco (born in 2000). She and her husband Guy Ritchie are also in the process of adopting a third child, David. This adoption has been very controversial, due to allegations of special treatment of Madonna and her family and the David's father not being willing to give him up for adoption. How that situation will resolve itself is still unknown.

Sources:
Wikipedia
VH1
Music Atlas
Notable Biographies

Photo description: the photo is of Madonna, taken recently. She is in her late 40s. She has long blond hair and a gap between her teeth and is smiling widely.

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#98: Helen Keller

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helen kellerHelen Keller was born in 1880 in Alabama. When she was 19 months old, Helen fell ill with what likely scarlet fever or meningitis. She survived her illness, but was left both deaf and blind by it.

As she grew older, Helen became very hard for her parents to handle. She often threw tantrums, broke things, and screamed. Relatives thought she should be institutionalized. Helen's parents disagreed, and took her to Alexander Graham Bell, a local expert on deaf children. Bell put them in touch with the director of the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind, who in turn sent teach Anne Sullivan to work with Helen.

Anne taught Helen for several years, and Helen then attended the Perkins Institute. In 1900, Helen enrolled in Radcliffe College. She was the first deaf-blind person to ever go to college in the United States. Anne went with her and assisted her. While in college, Helen began to write about her life, and in 1903 she published her autobiography, "The Story of My Life." In 1904, Helen graduated.

In 1905, Anne married John Macy, the editor of Helen's first book. Helen lived with John and Anne in Massachusetts. Helen continued to write, and also, through John, became active in the Massachusetts Socialist Party. In 1913, Helen published "Out of the Dark," a series of essays on Socialism.

In the years after the publication of her Socialist work, Helen traveled and lectured extensively, always with Anne by her side. By 1918, though, Helen's lecturing had morphed from serious talks to a vaudeville type show, which was financially lucrative. Helen toured not only to support herself, but also to raise awareness and funds for the American Foundation for the Blind. In 1922, Anne became ill and was unable to travel with Helen anymore, and another woman, Polly Thompson, took her place.

In 1936, Anne died. Helen and Polly moved to Connecticut.

After World War II, Helen and Polly traveled extensively raising money for the American Foundation for the Overseas Blind. Helen also continued to work towards racial and sexual equality. She supported the Industrial Workers of the World, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Margaret Sanger's efforts to legalize birth control.

In 1953, an Academy Award winning documentary, "Unconquered," was made about Helen's life. In 1955, Helen published a book about Anne Sullivan, "Teacher." In 1959, the play "The Miracle Worker," about Helen and Anne, debuted on Broadway, and in 1962 it was made into another Oscar winning film.

Helen suffered her first stroke in 1961. For the rest of her life, she remained mostly in her home in Connecticut, with few public appearances. She died in 1968. She published 11 books, was the subject of three films and a play, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and was inducted into the Women's Hall of Fame.

Sources:
RNIB
Helen Keller Services for the Blind
Time
National Women's Hall of Fame

1 Comments

Also the subject of hundreds of delightful jokes.

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#97: Judy Chicago

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judy chicagoHow much do I love Judy Chicago? I'm so glad she's on this list.

Judy Chicago was born Judy Cohen, in Chicago, in 1939. She was the eldest of two children in a Jewish family. She moved to Los Angeles in 1957 to attend UCLA art school. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1962, then received her masters in 1964. During this period, she met and married her husband, Jerry Gerowitz. The two were married for only a couple of years before he died in a car crash.

Before showing her first major museum work, "Rainbow Pickets" at the Jewish Museum in 1966, Judy began to use the name Judy Chicago, given to her by a gallery owner due to her Chicago accent.

In 1970, Judy founded the nation's first feminist art program, at California State University in Fresno. The next year, she and fellow artist Miriam Shapiro founded another feminist program, he CalArts Feminist Art Program for the California Institute of the Arts. They then hosted the nation's first feminist art exhibition, Womanhouse.

The Dinner PartyIn 1974, Judy began her most famous work, the installation piece The Dinner Party. The piece is a homage to women's history, with each place setting dedicated to a famous female historical figure. Judy worked on the piece for five years, with the help of hundreds of volunteers. It has been exhibited 16 times in six countries, and is now housed permanently at the Brooklyn Museum, within the Elizabeth A Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

In the early 1980s, Judy brought hundreds of needleworkers together to create Birth Project, a large collection of images of birth created in needlework. She has also done several other large-scale projects with feminist themes, many of which have been collaborations. In the early 1990s, she released The Holocaust Project, a collaboration with her photographer husband Donald Woodman.

Judy has written several books, including (most recently) Through the Flower: My Struggle as a Woman Artist (2006). She is also the artistic director of Through the Flower, a non-profit arts organization created in 1978.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Through the Flower
Barewalls

1 Comments

I saw that exhibit when I was in NYC in July. It was amazing.

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#96: Frances Willard

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frances willardFrances Willard is kind of the suffragist time forgot. Her name should be as famous as those of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan Anthony, but it's not. She is one of my most favorite old-school feminists, though, if for no other reason than because she looks so damn serious.

Frances was born in New York in 1839. She spent most of her childhood in Wisconsin. She was the eldest of three children, and her father was a schoolteacher and a member of the state legislature.

Frances attended Evanston College for Ladies in Illinois, then went on to teach at Pittsburgh Female College and Genesee Wesleyan Seminary. In 1871, she was appointed president of Northwestern Female College. When Northwestern Female College became part of Northwestern University, she continued to teach there and was Dean of Women. She also wrote for the Chicago Daily Post.

In 1874, Frances helped found the Women’s' Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), an organization to work towards the prohibition of alcohol, which also supported prison reform, the abolition of prostitution, and women's suffrage, all on moral grounds. In 1881, she became the WCTU president, a capacity in which she served until her death. In this position, she traveled and lectured worldwide.

In 1892, Frances founded a magazine, The Union Signal, and she was the editor until her death. She also helped to form the National Council of Women, of which she served as president from 1888 to 1890.

Though her name is not well known, among scholars Frances is credited as being one of the women who was instrumental in the passages of the 18th and eventually the 19th amendments. She died in 1898 in New York.

Sources:
Wikipedia

Spartacus
Harvard

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#95: Harriet Tubman

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painting of harriet tubmanThe exact date of Harriet Tubman's birth is not know, but it is thought to be in 1819 or 1820. She was born into slavery in Maryland. As a child, she worked first as a house slave, then as a field hand. In her early teens, she sustained a serious head injury while trying to keep another slave from being whipped.

In or around 1844, Harriet married a free black man, John Tubman. Afraid that she would be sold south, she escaped in 1948 via the Underground Railroad. After a year or so, she returned south to help others escape to freedom. Her husband had taken another wife, but Harriet was undeterred, returning to the South again and again to help slaves escape, many to Canada. By 1856, the bounty on Harriet's head was $40,000.

By 1860, Harriet had made the trip to help slaves escape 19 times. She is believed to have conducted nearly 300 people to safety in the North. John Brown called her "one of the bravest persons on this continent."

During the Civil War, Harriet worked for the Union as a cook and nurse, and even as a spy. She was refused payment for these services.

After the War, Harriet settled in upstate New York, where she built a home for the aged and needy. She remarried and lived the rest of her life there. She died in 1913.

Sources:
PBS
New York History Net
Spartacus

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#94: Janet Reno

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janet renoJanet Reno was born in 1938 in Miami, Florida. She was the eldest of four siblings. Her parents were both journalists, her father a police reporter, her mother an investigative reporter. Janet attended public school in Dade County.

In 1956, Janet enrolled at Cornell University, majoring in chemistry. After her graduation from Cornell, she went to Harvard Law School, one of only 16 women in the 500 person enrolling class of 1960. Between her graduation in 1963 and 1971, she worked at two private law firms.

In 1971, Janet became the staff director of the Judiciary Committee of the Florida House of Representatives. Two years later, she accepted a position at the Dade County State Attorney General's Office. In 1978, she became the Dade County State Attorney General. She served in this position until 1992, which was surprising, given that she was a Democrat in a heavily Republican county.

In 1993, Janet became the first female Attorney General of the United States. She was the third nomination by President Clinton, after the first two were rejected due to having used illegal immigrants for childcare. While she was in office, Janet had low points, mostly notably the FBI-Branch Dividian standoff in Waco, Texas, but she also had many high points. She sent antitrust violators to prison for price-fixing and prosecuted violations of ecological statutes with previously unseen vigor, as well as overseeing the prosecution of the Unabomber and the Oklahoma City bombers.

After the end of the Clinton administration, Janet made an unsuccessful run for Florida Governor in 2002. Since the, she has retired from politics, though she still frequently lecturers.

Sources:
Women's International Center
About: Women's History
Reno4Governor

Wikipedia

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#93: Alice Walker

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alice walker sitting in a chairAlice Walker was born in 1944 in Georgia. She was the eighth child of sharecropping parents. She began school early, at the age of four, due to her precociousness. When she was 8, Alice was accidentally shot with a BB gun and blinded in her right eye. This accident left a scar, of which Alice was very self-conscious for several years, until she underwent an operation to minimize it when she was 14.

Alice was the valedictorian of her graduating class, the prom queen, and voted most popular girl. After leaving high school, she attended Spelman College, where she became an active participant in the burgeoning Civil Rights movement. In 1963, Alice transferred from Spelman to Sarah Lawrence College, from which she graduated in the winter of 1964.

After leaving Sarah Lawrence, Alice continued to agitate for Civil Rights and began to write. She also moved to New York City, where she took a job at the welfare department. In 1966, she was awarded her first writing grant. She moved to Mississippi to write.

While she was in Mississippi, Alice met her husband, Jewish civil rights attorney Melvyn Leventhal. The two married in 1967, in New York, then returned to Mississippi, where they were the first legally married interracial couple in the state. Alice worked for Head Start and a voter registration campaign, and continued to write. In 1969, she had her only child, daughter Rebecca.

In 1968-69, Alice became the writer in residence at Jackson State College. In 1970, Alice published her first novel, The Strange Life of Grange Copeland, and in 1970-71 she was the writer in residence at Tougaloo College. In 1971, Alice left the south to take a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship. She and Rebecca then moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Alice got a job teaching first at Wellesley, then at the University of Massachusetts. In these positions, she began to teach some of the first African-American literature courses in the country. She also continued to publish books of poetry and short stories.

In 1974, Alice and her family returned to New York, where Alice continued to write and began working for Ms. Magazine. In 1976, she published her second novel, Meridian. She and her husband also decided to divorce. On the strength of Meridian, Alice received a Guggenheim Foundation grant in 1978. It was during this time of intense writing that she began work on her most celebrated novel, The Color Purple.

The Color Purple was released in 1982. In 1983, Alice won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction--the first African-American novelist to do so. She continued to teach, at Berkeley and Brandeis, and to write, publishing a book of "womanist prose" in 1983.

Throughout the 1980s, Alice continued to publish poetry and prose, and in 1985, The Color Purple was released as a film, which went on to be nominated for 11 Oscars.

In 1992, Alice released a new kind of novel, Possessing the Secret of Joy, which chronicled the horror of female genital mutilation. In 1993, she followed the book up with a documentary on the subject, Warrior Marks.

Since the mid-90s, Alice has continued her work as an author and an activist. Her most recent book, a children's book called "Why War Is Never a Good Idea," was published in September, 2007.

Sources:
About: Women's History
Living By Grace
The Literary Encyclopedia

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#92: Shirley Chisholm

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Shirley ChisholmShirley Chisholm was one of four daughters born to parents who emigrated from the West Indies to New York. She was born in 1924. Shirley and her sisters spent much of their early childhoods in Barbados, living with their grandmother.

Shirley attended Brooklyn College, majoring in sociology and participating in debate. She was also active in the Brooklyn chapter of the National Urban League and in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She graduated with honors in 1946.

After she graduated, Shirley had a tough time getting a job that befitted her education, likely due to racism. She worked at a Harlem childcare center and took night classes at Columbia towards a master's degree in child education. She then moved into the administration, becoming the supervisor of New York City's largest nursery school network.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, Shirley and her husband became active in politics. In 1960, Shirley started the Unity Democratic Club, an organization to mobilize Black and Hispanic voters. In 1964, Shirley was elected to the New York State General Assembly by a landslide, and so her career as a politician began.

Shirley served as an Assemblyperson for four years before running for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1968 under the slogan "Fighting Shirley Chisholm, Unbought and Unbossed". She was the first black woman to be elected to Congress. For her first term, Shirley hired an all-female staff and focused her legislative agenda on civil rights, women's rights, and anti-war activism. She campaigned for higher minimum wage and for federally funded day care. She also co-founded the National Women's Organization (NOW) and the National Women's Political Caucus.

In 1972, Shirley became the first African American woman, and the second woman ever, to run for President of the United States. While she did not win the Democratic nomination, she did get 151 delegate votes. She continued to serve as a Representative for several more terms, retiring in 1982.

After her retirement from Congress, Shirley remained an active political figure and activist, as well as a professor at Mount Holyoke College. She worked on the Reverend Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign, created and chaired the National Political Congress of Black Women, and served as an ambassador to Jamaica.

Shirley died in Florida in 2005. She was 80.

Sources:
About: Women's History
AfricanAmericans.com
ABC News

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#91: Margaret Mead

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Margaret MeadMargaret Mead was born in 1901 in Philadelphia. She was the eldest of four children born to two teachers. After high school, she went to DePauw University, where she studied for a year before transferring to Barnard College. At Barnard, she met Ruth Benedict and noted anthropologist Franz Boas, and she soon turned her interest to anthropology.

In 1923, while attending graduate school in anthropology at Columbia University, Margaret married theology student Luther Cressman. Though they wanted children, the two were unable to conceive. After a few years, they divorced and Margaret married New Zealand psychologist Reo Fortune. Margaret also dedicated herself to her work, traveling extensively and in 1928 publishing her first book, Coming of Age in Somoa, which is still in print.

After the publication of her first work, Mead continued to travel and study, publishing several more books, including Growing Up in New Guinea (1930), Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies (1935), and Male and Female (1949). She also pioneered the use of photography in anthropological research. In 1935, she divorced for a second time, marrying Gregory Bateson, with whom she had her only child.

In addition to her books, Margaret published extensive articles, lectured, and worked in the Anthropology department of the American Museum of Natural History. She was also a social activist and feminist, testifying before Congress on social problems on more than one occasion. In her retirement, she gave extensive grants to young anthropologists.

Margaret Mead died in 1978.

Sources:
American Museum of Natural History
Webster University
Celebration of Women Anthropologists

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#90: Julia Ward Howe

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Julia Ward HoweThose who recognize the name Julia Ward Howe probably think of her as the author of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." However, in her time she was noted as a speaker, writer, and activist. She was born in 1819 to a wealthy New York City family. Her mother died when she was young, and her strict Calvinist father raised her and her siblings.

She received more education than most women in her time, both at home and in private schools, and was fluent in several languages and well versed in music and literature. By the time she was 20, she had published anonymous literary criticism in multiple journals.

In 1939, while mourning the death of her father, Julia examined her spirituality and turned toward Unitarianism. Over the next few years, she met several notable Unitarians, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and noted blind teacher Samuel Gridley Howe. She and Howe married in 1843. Over the next twelve years, the couple had five children.

During the early years of her marriage, though her husband did not approve, Julia continued to write, having poems published in two anthologies in 1848 and in 1854 published her own anonymous poetry book, Passion Flowers. As her identity as the author of Passion Flowers, which was well-reviewed, became a more open secret, Julia's husband became more and more displeased with her writing. The couple considered divorce but remained married, mostly for the sake of their younger children. Julia continued to write, publishing another book of poetry, Words for the Hour, shortly followed by her play, The World's Own, in 1857. In 1960, she wrote a piece for the New York Tribune about a trip to Cuba.

During the 1850s, the Howes became involved in the abolitionist movement. It was during this time that Julia wrote "Battle Hymn of the Republic," which was first published in The Atlantic in 1862. On the popularity of the song, Julia began speaking and reading publicly. She also joined liberal organizations including the Radical Club and Caroline Severance. She was a founding member of the New England Woman's Suffrage Organization, of which she served as president from 1868-77 and 1893-1910. She and Lucy Stone also co-founded the American Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. Julia was also an early contributor to Lucy Stone's Women's Journal. She also served as president for both General Federation of Women's Clubs and the Association for the Advancement of Women.

During the 1870s Franco-Prussian War, Julia became a peace activist. She founded American Friends of Russian Freedom in 1891, and served as president of the United Friends of Armenia. She also initiated a "Mother's Peace Day," which has since morphed into Mother's Day. In 1875, Julia called forward the first ever convention of Universalist women ministers.

After the death of her husband in 1876, Julia increased her lecturing appearances, then took a two-year trip to Europe and the Middle East with her youngest daughter. Upon her return to Boston, she continued to write, lecture, and agitate.

In 1908, Julia was the first woman ever to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Julia died in 1910, at the age of 91.

Sources:
Harvard University
Unitarian Universalist Historical Society
National Women's Hall of Fame

1 Comments

How interesting! I love these mini biographies you do, they're fantastic. Ward Howe is an inspiration.

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#89: Victoria Woodhull

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Victoria WoodhullVictoria Woodhull was born Victoria Claflin in 1838 in Ohio. She was one of many children, her father a gristmill operator and get-rich-quick schemer. Victoria spent much of her childhood traveling with her family, working sometimes as a fortuneteller. She rarely if ever went to formal school.

At the age of 15, Victoria married Dr. Canning Woodhall and she soon after had her first child. For several years, she and her family continued to travel and she continued to tell fortunes and sell medicines. Canning was an alcoholic, and in 1864, after having another child, Victoria divorced him.

In 1966, Victoria got married again, this time to Colonel James Harvey Blood, a noted "free love" radical. She and Blood then moved to New York City. In New York, Victoria became friends with railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt (who was reportedly her sister's lover), who backed her and her sister's entry to Wall Street as America's first female stockbrokers. The sisters were very successful and in 1870 started publishing their own journal, Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly.

Victoria used the journal to support progressive causes, including women's suffrage and the 8-hour workday. She also exposed stock market fraud, insurance scams, and corruption in Congress. The journal had about 20,000 subscribers during its six-year publication. In 1872, Victoria spearheaded the first U.S. printing of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels' Communist Manifesto.

Also in 1872, Victoria became the first woman to run for President of the United States. She was the nominee on the Equal Rights Party ticket. Though Victoria's pro-suffrage and social and political reform positions earned her the support of many suffragists, socialists, and unionists, they were too radical for the established suffrage organizers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan Anthony, who elected not to support her.

Friends of President Grant, including Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, also staunchly opposed Victoria. In retaliation to rumors spread about herself and her sister, Victoria printed news in her journal that Beecher was having an affair with a married woman. She was arrested for sending obscene literature through the mail under the Comstock Act and spent the election in jail. Her name ended up being left off the ballot anyway, since she was only 34 years old and thus not technically old enough to run for President under the constitution.

After her initial arrest, Victoria spent months on trial for libel and obscenity. Though she was acquitted, she was eventually bankrupted by her legal costs, which totaled nearly a half million dollars.

In 1876, Victoria and Blood divorced and the publication of the journal ceased. Victoria became increasingly interested in Catholicism and spirituality. In 1878, Victoria emigrate to England with her mother and sister, where she continued her political work, speaking on spirituality, sexuality, and women's suffrage, and started the Humanitarian newspaper 1895. In 1882, Victoria married a third time, this time to millionaire banker John Biddulph Martin.

After her third husband died, Victoria became very interested in agriculture. She divided one of her estates into smaller plots of land, which she then rented to women farmers learning new techniques. She also opened a small agricultural school.

Victoria died in 1927 in England. She was 88 years old.

Sources:
Women in History
Spartacus
Harvard University

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#88: Cindy Sheehan

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cindysheehan.Cindy Sheehan, sometimes called "Peace Mom," has been perhaps the most vocal voice in the United States against the current Iraq war. After the death of her son, Casey, in Iraq in 2004, Sheehan became a very vocal activist supporting troop withdrawal from Iraq. Most notably, she organized a peace vigil, "Camp Casey," outside the Crawford, Texas ranch of President George Bush while he was on a month's vacation there in August, 2005.

Cindy is one of the founding members of Gold Star Families for Peace, an organization created in 2005 to support the families of soldiers who were killed in war. The organization is explicitly political, dedicated not just to supporting families, but to ending the current war(s). The organization supports conscientious objectors and anti-war political candidates, as well as organizing peace rallies and demonstrations.

Sheehan's anti-war activities have not been limited to Camp Casey or Gold Star. She's also pledged not to pay her taxes, was arrested for protesting Bush's 2006 State of the Union Address, participated in the Bring Them Home Now Tour, and founded the Crawford Texas Peace House, among other things. However, in May 2007, Sheehan publicly announced an end to her activism, stating that she was going to dedicate her time to her remaining children.

Sheehan's retirement was short-lived. She has more recently announced her candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives, challenging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Sources:
Wikipedia
CNN
Gold Star Families for Peace
Bring Them Home Now Tour
Crawford Texas Peace House
Cindy Sheehan for Congress

1 Comments

Wow, I hadn't heard this. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I don't know that much about Sheehan since I'm not living in the US and wasn't there when all the uproar was going on with her but I admire her chutzpah, that's for sure.

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#87: Rosie the Riveter

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Rosie the Riveter We Can Do It! posterRosie the Riveter is, I believe, the only icon on the history making women list. The rest of the women have all been flesh and blood. As far as icons of strong American women go, though, Rosie has to be #1.

At her most basic, Rosie represents the six million or so women who took to munitions and materials factories all over the United States during World War II. The idea of Rosie based on that of Michigan riveter Rose Will Monroe, who starred in a government promotional film encouraging women to support the war effort at home. Her most famous image, though, shown in the "We Can Do It!" Westinghouse poster, was based on another Michigan riveter, Geraldine Doyle. Originally, the "We Can Do It!" poster was not meant to represent Rosie the Riveter at all, but the connection between the two was made in the mid-1940s.

Rosie Saturday Evening Post coverThough women's entry into manufacturing during World War II did for a time change their entire position in the United States economy, it was not the force of economic equilibrium it is sometimes painted to be. Women welders and riveters usually made significantly less money than did their male counterparts, and when the war ended, most of them left manufacturing and many of them left the workforce altogether.

Since the 40s, and especially after the feminist movement of the 1970s, Rosie's image has stood in not just for women's entrance into the work force in larger numbers, but for a general feeling of women's empowerment in the United States. The National Organization for Women (NOW) sells t-shirts with her image and the words "NOW Let's Get to Work!" Her image is seen not only telling women that we can do it, but also saying "feminist" and even "Up yours, George!" In 1999, her image was on a 33-cent stamp, and it is featured widely on t-shirts, hats, buttons, etc.

Sources:
American Rosie the Riveter Association
Wikipedia
Rosie the Riveter World War II / Home Front National Historical Park

6 Comments

My grandma was a riveter and I bought her the Rosie action figure for Christmas last year. She said it was the best gift she'd ever gotten. :)

Rose Will Monroe (1920 -1997)was actually a Pulaski County, Kentucky native. She was "discovered" by movie star Walter Pidgeon. Her image became the personification of the American icon, Rosie the Riveter.

i like this article Rosie is an awesome symbol for women, but i hate that her symbolism gets distorted and disfigured when they have her taking sides against people (i.e. up urs george) i dont care wut people think about other people but Rosie should remain an unsoiled strong symbol for women to look at! unbiased in politics but a supporter of women everywhere

I actually have a pin with Rosie on it but instead of saying We Can Do It, it says Chicks Kick Ass....it is currently pinned to my purse where anyone can see!

Apparently Rosie the Riveter was based on a real person her name is Geraldine Doyle

You can read it here http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101230/ts_alt_afp/ushistorywwiifeminism RIP Geraldine

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#86: Margaret Sanger

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Margaret SangerYou can't talk about reproductive freedom without talking about Margaret Sanger.

Margaret Sanger was born in 1879 in New York. She was the sixth of eleven children in a working-class Irish-American family. Margaret's mother was constantly pregnant and sick during her childhood, eventually dying of TB.

Margaret went to college and became a nurse. She focused on maternal health care and worked in some of the worst parts of New York City. In 1902, she married William Sanger, an architect. They had three children before divorcing in the early 1920s.

After spending ten years watching women suffer and die from too many pregnancies, botched abortions and other gender and poverty-related afflictions, Margaret quit nursing become a full-time birth control educator and activist. She wrote a series of articles entitled "What Every Girl Should Know" for The New York Call, giving practical advice on available birth control methods. These articles were later published as a book. Margaret also wrote pamphlets, and then started her own radical newspaper, The Woman Rebel, which many states banned.

In 1914, Margaret was arrested for violations of the Cornstock Act, which banned the transmission of "lewd" materials through the mail. She expatriated to Europe until her case was dismissed.

In 1916, Margaret opened the first birth control clinic in the United States. It was shut down after nine days and she was briefly imprisoned. In 1921, she founded the American Birth Control League (renamed the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1942). She traveled and lectured on birth control and family planning through the 20s and 30s, and won a victory when the Cornstock Act was overturned in 1923.

In 1965, the Supreme Court decision in Griswold v. Connecticut legalized contraception for married couples (this protection was extended to unmarried people in 1972). The next year, Margaret Sanger died at the age of 86.

Sources:
Time Magazine
Michigan State University
Harvard University

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#85: Wilma Rudolph

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wilma rudolphWilma Rudolph was born in Tennessee in 1940, the 20th of her father's 22 children (from two marriages). She was premature and was very sick as a child, first from pneumonia, then from scarlet fever, and finally from polio. She lost the use of her left leg at age 6 and began wearing metal leg braces. Wilma's early medical care was severely compromised not only by her family's poverty, but by the racial segregation of the south at the time of her birth. In the Randolph's town, there was only one black doctor and no hospital that would admit black patients.

Due to her illnesses, Wilma did not start public school until she was 7. Through determination and with extensive help from her large family, she was able to stop wearing the braces by the time she was 9 and walk without impairment by the age of 12. She then began playing basketball, though the coach of her junior high team didn't play her in a single game for three years. When she finally did get to play as a sophomore in high school, though, Wilma quickly became a state record-holding star.

Wilma received a full scholarship to Tennessee State not for her skills in basketball, but for her speed. While still in high school, Wilma began attending college track practices. Then, in 1956, at the age of 16, Wilma competed in her first Olympic Games. She ran on the U.S. 4X4 relay team and came home with a bronze medal.

At the 1960 Olympics, Wilma became a star. She was the first American woman to bring home three gold metals, for the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, and 400-meter relay. All three events set world records. She was named the United Press Athlete of the Year and the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year. At her insistence, her victory parade was the first integrated event of its kind in her hometown of Clarksville, Tennessee.

After retiring from competitive running, Wilma returned to Clarksville, where she taught school and coached track. She moved on to coaching and teaching positions in other towns before going into broadcasting and becoming a national sports commentator. She married her high school sweetheart in 1963, with whom she had four children before divorcing. She also created the Wilma Rudolph Foundation, a non-profit promoting community sports programs.

Wilma died of brain cancer in 1994, at the age of 54.


Sources:
Women in History
ESPN
National Women's Hall of Fame

4 Comments

Ms. Rudolph lived two streets away from my WV childhood home later in her life, during a particularly rough stretch. She was an amazing woman, even when her days were darkest, and I - along with many others - were very happy when she landed on her two able feet once again.

Wow, it is amazing that you got to know her. She seems like she was an phenomenal woman.

Wilma Rudolph was a hero of mine too. I remember watching her run in the 1960 Olympics. Despite our differences: I was budgy non-athletic and white; she was sinewy, graceful and chocolate, she spoke to me. When the announcer told her story I cried. She became my first hero. I often thought, throughout my life, that if she could do what she did, I could face the barrier before me.

Thanks for writing about her.
Cilla

I also enjoyed reading about Wilma Rudolph here, she is a treasure! But in response to a comment that was left, I feel I must address it.

Cilla,

In response to your comment, I think you undermine your own attempts to publicly esteem Wilma Rudolph when you use words like " chocolate" to describe the appearance of a Black female. I think you should consider how that word is demeaning and used to describe confections, not a person's skin color.

Stating that she was a graceful "Black" woman is a statement I would much rather read than calling her chocolate.


Caroline

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#84: Dorothy Thompson

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dorothy thompson Dorothy Thompson was born in 1893 in New York. When she was seven, her mother died. As she did not get along with her stepmother, Dorothy went to live with her father's sisters in Chicago in 1908. She attended private school there, then went to Syracuse University, graduating in 1914.

After her graduation, Dorothy first worked as an organizer for the women's suffrage movement, which she later descibed as "the last romantic political movement this country ever had.”

Wanting to make her living as a writer, Dorothy first tried her hand at fiction, then went to Europe in the hope of becoming an international correspondent. On a 1920 trip to visit relatives in Ireland, she was able to interview Sinn Fien leaders including Terence MacSwiney. MacSwiney died two months later during a hunger strike, leaving Dorothy's interview to be his last. Dorothy continued this ambitious journalism the next year, sneaking into Budapest disguised as a Red Cross worker. Her coverage of the attempt Emperor Franz Josef's grandnephew to reclaim the Hungarian throne ran in papers all over the world and earned Dorothy her first regular journalist job at the Philadelphia Public Ledger.

Dorothy eventually became the Central Europe bureau chief for both the Ledger and the New York Evening Post. She lived and worked in Poland, Austria, Germany, and the Soviet Union. In 1928, she married notable American author Sinclair Lewis (her second marriage), and in 1930 the couple returned to the U.S. and had a son, Dorothy's only child.

After her move back to the States, Dorothy continued to travel and write for newspapers and magazines. She interviewed Adolph Hitler for Cosmopolitan, and was in 1934 the first foreign journalist to be thrown out of Germany by Hitler.

In 1936, Dorothy began writing a column called "On the Record," which was syndicated in newspapers across the country, reaching an audience of 8-10 million people a day at the height of its popularity. She also wrote a monthly column for the Ladies' Home Journal. Next, she started making radio broadcasts on NBC, starting with celebrity-oriented material, but shifting to political, anti-fascist commentary when war broke out in Europe in 1939. For the years proceeding the American entry into World War II, Dorothy's voice was among the strongest in the country to speak against Hitler. In 1939, Time magazine called her one of the two most influential women in America. The other was Eleanor Roosevelt.

After World War II, Dorothy continued to be politically involved. She opposed the creation of Israel and argued for nuclear disarmament. She died in Portugal in 1961.

Sources:
Museum of Television & Radio
George Washington University
American Cassandra: The Life of Dorothy Thompson

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#83: Jolie Rickman

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singing Jolie RickmanPeace and social justice activist and singer-songwriter Jolie Rickman was born in 1970 in New York. In the early 1990s, she interned at the King Center in Atlanta, where she got to know Coretta Scott King, whom she credited with being a major inspiration for her music and social justice work.

Jolie was involved in many projects, including co-producing a CD "Sing it Down" to support closing the School of the Americas. She also helped launch the New York City People's Referendum on Free Trade and the Spanish Camp for Activists. She spend her entire life dedicated to making music and fighting for social justice.

Jolie Rickman died in 2005, at the age of 34, of ovarian cancer.

A sample of Jolie's music can be heard here.


Sources:
The Indypendent
Jolie Rickman Memoir

1 Comments

Hi, I would like to become a member if possible.
Jacqui Rickman, Jolie's mom

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#82: Jeannette Rankin

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jeannette rankinJeannette Rankin is one of the women on this list that a lot of people have already heard of. That doesn't make her any less worth the time to write a blurb about, though, because personally I find her story inspiring.

Jeannette was born in 1880 in Missoula, Montana. Her parents owned a ranch and her mother taught school. She attended the University of Montana, graduating in 1902. After living in New York City and working as a social worker, Jeannette moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington. At this point, she became involved in women's suffrage both nationally and in her home state of Montana.

Women were granted suffrage in Montana in 1914. By 1916, Jeannette, now a Republican, had been elected not only the first female Representative to the U.S. Congress from the state of Montana, but the first one in the nation (national women's suffrage did not take effect until 1920). Jeannette campaigned on a platform that stressed the need for a woman's view in Washington and highlighted the need for social reforms in areas including child welfare and prohibition.

Only a few days into her first term, Jeannette cast an unpopular vote against U.S. entrance into World War I. She was one of 50 people in the House of Representatives to vote against the war. This vote put her at odds with many of her suffragist supporters, who considered their cause to be threatened by Jeannette's pacifism. Jeannette, however, was dedicated to her pacifism. In 1915, she was one of the founders of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

During her term, Jeannette not only maintained her opposition to the war, she also introduced legislation on midwife education, visiting nurse programs to reduce infant mortality, and state and federal funding for health clinics.

During Jeannette's first term in the House, her district was reshaped to heavily favor Democrats. Knowing she would not be re-elected to her House seat, Jeannette ran for her party's nomination for U.S. Senate. She was narrowly defeated in the primary and then waged and unsuccessful third-party campaign in the general election.

For the next 20 years, Jeannette worked in Washington D.C. as a lobbyist. She was a field secretary for the National Consumer's League, pushing for legislation promoting better health care, particularly for women and children. In 1920, she became a founding vice-president of the American Civil Liberties Union. From 1929 to 1939, Jeannette lobbied for the National Council for Prevention of War.

In 1940, Jeannette was elected to a second term in the House, this time on an anti-war platform from the start. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Jeannette was the sole member of the House to vote against entrance into World War II. She reportedly said, ""As a woman, I can't go to war and I refuse to send anyone else. I vote 'NO'." Given the tiny minority in which this decision put her, Jeannette did not seek further office after her term ended.

In the 1960s, Jeannette once again returned to the spotlight, speaking out vehemently against the war in Vietnam. In 1968, she led more than 5,000 women, calling themselves the "Jeannette Rankin Brigade" in an anti-war march on the capitol.

Jeannette Rankin died in 1973, at the age of 92. As part of her estate, she left seed money for what is now The Jeannette Rankin Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to offering scholarships to women, particularly those 35 and older.

Sources:
U.S. Senate
University of California
Jeannette Rankin Foundation

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#81: Tsuyako Kitashima

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Tsuyako KitashimaThe internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is one of the ugly places in American history that our textbooks and popular culture would often prefer we forget. Without the lifelong struggles of Japanese American internment survivors and activists like Tsuyako Kitashima, that may well happen. It is a credit to her and those like her that it has not.

Tsuyako Kitashima was born in 1918 in California. She was one of six children of parents who immigrated from Japan. Tsuyako and her family owned a small strawberry farm in what is now Fremont, California. When she was 23, on December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

Like 120,000 other Japanese Americans, Tsuyako and her family were "relocated," first to a temporary camp in California (where they lived in a stable for several months), then to a camp in Topaz, Utah. Responses on a loyalty questionnaire split up the family, with Tsuyako's mother and brothers being sent to another camp and Tsuyako staying in Utah with her sister and her brother-in-law.

Not long after her family's release, in 1945, Tsuyako married. She and her husband relocated from Utah back to California and she worked for 30 years at the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center, retiring in 1981.

After her retirement, Tsuyako focused her energies on achieving justice for herself and the thousands like her who were interned during the war. She helped organize participation in the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians hearings and was a spokeswoman for the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations. In 1988, these efforts came to fruition when the Civil Liberties act granted a formal apology from the country to the interned Japanese Americans and began the process of issuing reparations.

Tsuyako was active in many other facets of the San Francisco Japanese American community aside from her redress related activism. She served on the city's advisory council on aging and volunteered at multiple organizations dedicated to helping Japanese American seniors, including Kimochi, Inc., with whom she helped to create a Japanese American elder care facility where she volunteered for over 25 years.

In 1998, Tsuyako was awarded a Free Spirit Award from The Freedom Forum for her efforts at redress.

Tsuyako died on December 29, 2006, of heart failure. She was 87 and living in a San Francisco care facility.

Sources:
SFGate
Jewel of the Desert
Educational Justice

1 Comments

Hi, Sorry to be picky but on the page shown above there is a typo. The word "interred" is used a couple of times when I suspect that "interned" is actually meant. "Interred" has an entirely more sinister meaning. Regards, David.

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#80: Barbara Smith

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Barbara SmithSince its inception, there have been problems with the feminist movement speaking mostly to the needs and desires of middle-class white women. Despite the not-always-warm reception mainstream white feminists have given them, women of color have been movement leaders in many cases. One of those cases is Barbara Smith, a feminist writer and activist since the 1960s.

Barbara was born in 1946. As a teenager, she was involved in the Civil Rights Movement in Cleveland, Ohio. She attended Mount Holyoke College, graduating in 1969, then went on to take a masters degree in 1971. By the time she got out of school, Barbara was involved in the feminist movement though Black feminism. (Her twin sister worked at Ms. magazine.) In 1975, Barbara reorganized the Boston chapter of the National Black Feminist Organization. She then went on in 1980 to co-found (with Audre Lorde) Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the first U.S. publisher for Women of Color.

Smith carefully defines herself as a feminist, a radical, a socialist, a lesbian. Her writings have been included in such momentous feminist works as The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History and This Bridge Called My Back. She has also lectured widely and written for magazines including Ms. and The Nation.

References:
FemmeNoir
Off Our Backs
Wikipedia

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#79: Ida Tarbell

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ida tarbellIda Tarbell was born in 1857 in Erie County, Pennsylvania. She grew up in oil country, her father working as an oil producer and refiner. In 1872, due to an agreement between the up-and-coming John Rockefeller's refiners and the Pennsylvania railroads, the whole region where Ida grew up was hit hard with a recession.

In 1880, Ida was the sole woman in the graduating class from Allegheny College. She worked first as a science teacher, then as a journalist at a small newspaper, then went to Paris in the late 1800s to write a biography on French Revolution figure Madame Rouland.

In 1894, Ida was hired as an editor for McClure's magazine. Her popularity grew very quickly when a series she wrote about Abraham Lincoln nearly double the magazine's circulation. Though her talent for historical portraits was clear, Ida wanted to use her writing for something more germane to the current situation, so she soon began work on a series about Rockefeller and Standard Oil.

Originally slated to be a piece in three parts, Ida's series on Standard Oil was immensely popular and grew to a 19-part series, published from 1902 to 1904. The series was notable for the breathe of Ida's research, as well as for her condemnation of Rockefeller's unethical behavior. Though some criticized Ida as “muckraking”, her Standard Oil series has also been hailed as a breakthrough in the history of investigative journalism. The piece was later printed as a book.

Even though Ida worked as a journalist in a time when there were very few women writing, she was not a feminist. She opposed the suffrage movement and said that women's rights campaigns belittled the important contributions of women in the private sphere. Ida turned down offers to be part of Peace Ship to end World War I and President Wilson's Tariff Commission (on which she would have been the first woman).

Ida died in 1944, at the age of 86.

References:
Spartacus
PBS
Allegheny College
Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission

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NaBloPoMo and History Making Women

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Last year, I participated in NaBloPoMo, as envisioned by one of my favorite bloggers, the frighteningly amusing and inventive Eden. My contribution to the 2,000ish dedicated daily bloggers was my series on history making women. Though I was very into the project, I didn't get through the whole list, stopping abruptly at #78, Gloria Steinem sometime in February. This means that there are 27 women left on the poster to be profiled, which is a pretty good number to tackle during this year's NaBloPoMo, in November. So that's what I'm going to do. A lot of advance warning, I know, but I just wanted to let you know to watch this space for that, and invite all of you to participate in NaBloPoMo as well--it's great fun!

1 Comments

Gah. I'd love to do this, but I'll be in North Korea for a weekend. I'm not thinking there will be a lot of internet access.

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Woman Making History #78: Gloria Steinem

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steinem.jpgI keep meaning to do these and forget. Have to get back on track with them.

Gloria Steinem has one of the most, if not the most, famous name and face in American feminism. She's been on the radar for a long time, and in a big way, and even if she were not notable for anything else, she'd be notable for that. But that's hardly all she's done.

Steinem was born in Ohio in 1934. Ten years later, her parents split up and Steinem lived with her mother, who was mentally ill. Steinem was forced to take a lot of responsibility quite young, in terms of caring for herself and her mother and helping to support her family.

In 1952, Steinem went to Smith College. She did well and graduated four years later with a degree in government studies. She then traveled in India before returning to the U.S. to find a job in journalism. In 1960, she became the assistant editor of Help! magazine. She also worked as a freelance journalist. In 1963, she quit help to freelance full-time. She achieved some notoriety with a controversial article about time spend "undercover" as a "bunny" cocktail waitress in the New York Playboy club. After spending some time doing celebrity interviews, Steinem covered George McGovern's run for president. This coverage won her a permanent position at New York magazine.

While covering an abortion hearing for New York, Steinem began to think seriously about feminism. As the United States' women's movement heated up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Steinem became increasingly active. Because of her high profile as a celebrity and political journalist, she was an easy candidate to be the burgeoning movement's media spokeswoman. In 1971, she co-founded the Women's Political Caucus, and in 1972 she helped to start Ms. magazine, for which she served as editor for several years. In 1974, she co-founded the Coalition of Labor Women. In 1993, she was appointed into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Steinem published several books, including Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions and Revolution from Within. She has remained very active in feminist politics, traveling and speaking extensively. She also serves as a contributing editor to the revitalized Ms. magazine.

Steinem has struggled with several health problems, including breast cancer. In 2000, at the age of 66, Steinem married for the first time. Her husband died only three years after their marriage.

Sources:
Wikipedia
CBS News
National Women's Hall of Fame

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nowlogo.gifIn June, 1966, hundreds of representatives of women's concerns nation-wide met for the Third National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women in Washington D.C. Frustrated at the lack of agency they had within this U.S. government organization, some of the conference's attendees decided that the time had come for a private national organization to fight for the concerns of women, as Civil Rights organizations had done and were continuing to do for African-Americans. Assembled in Betty Friedan's hotel room, 15-20 of the conference participants hatched the plan to form the National Organization for Women (NOW).

founders.jpgIn October, 1966, the organization's founders met for their first organizational conference. The organization had attracted 300 charter members, both male and female, but only 30 of them participated in the conference. The first slate of NOW officers was elected, including President Betty Friedan, Kathryn (Kay) Clarenbach as Chair of the Board, Aileen Hernandez Executive Vice President, Richard Graham as Vice President, and Caroline Davis as Secretary/Treasurer. NOW also adopted a statement of purpose at this meeting, which stated, among other things, that NOW was an organization dedicated to "take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men." The founding group also approved immediate actions to work for enforcement of title VII and against the sex based job discrimination of flight attendants.

Since it's inception in 1966, NOW has become the largest feminist membership organization in the U.S., with more than 500 local and campus chapters and more than 500,000 members. Actions taken by NOW have focused on many aspects of women's lives, including heavy emphasis on employment discrimination, reproductive rights, violence against women, and the ratification of the ERA. Some of the more substantial victories in which NOW was involved include the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that sex-based segregation in job postings is illegal, organization of the Houston Women's Conference in 1977, passage of the Rape Shield Law and Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978, and passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994.

Though homophobia plagued NOW in its early years, the organization eventually came out in strong support of its lesbian members, holding the first of several lesbian rights conferences in 1984. Over time, NOW also made greater efforts to include the perspectives and voices of women of color in its agenda.

In 2006, NOW celebrated its 40th anniversary as an organization. Current priority issues for the organization are protecting American women's right to choose, promoting diversity and ending racism, ending violence against women, promoting lesbian rights, and fighting for constitutional equality and economic justice for women. NOW is also involved in anti-war activism and efforts to recognize and respect the contributions of mothers to our society. NOW's current statement of purpose reads: "Our purpose is to take action to bring women into full participation in society – sharing equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities with men, while living free from discrimination." Its current brochure also states "NOW is one of the few multi-issue progressive organizations in the United States. NOW stands against all oppression, recognizing that racism, sexism and homophobia are interrelated, that other forms of oppression such as classism and ableism work together with these three to keep power and privilege concentrated in the hands of a few."

Sources:
NOW website
Wikipedia

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Woman Making History #76: Lillian Smith

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lillian_smith.jpgSouthern novelist and social critic Lillian Smith was born in Florida in 1897. She was the eighth of ten children. Her family was comfortably middle class for the majority of her childhood, but in 1915 her father lost his business and her family relocated to Georgia and started Laurel Falls Girls Camp, an educational camp for girls.

Smith spent a few years studying music, then moved home to help her parents manage a hotel in 1919. In 1922, she moved to China, where she was the music director at a Methodist girls' school.

In 1925, Smith returned to the U.S. to care for her ailing father. She then took the position of director of the Laurel Falls Camp, where she remained for 23 years. After her father died in 1930, Smith was the caretaker for her mother, as well as running the educational camp.

In the early 1930s, Smith began a lifelong partnership with a counselor at her camp, Paula Snelling. The two started a literary journal, Pseudopodia, in 1936. The journal was very popular and continued publishing throughout the early 1940s, under the name South Today. In 1945, Smith ceased publication of the journal in order to focus on her novel writing. Her first published novel, Strange Fruit, published in 1944, was very successful. She followed it with 1949's essay compilation, Killers of the Dream, 1954's The Journey, 1955's Now Is the Time, 1959's One Hour, 1962's Memory of a Large Christmas, and 1964's Our Faces, Our Words, as well as an essay collection and a collection of letters in the 1970s. All of Smith's novels took on volatile Southern social topics, including interracial relationships, the evils of segregation, McCarthyism, and non-violent civil rights resistance.

Smith was diagnosed with breast cancer in the early 1950s and battled it for many years. She died in 1966.

Sources:
Wikipedia
The New Georgia Encyclopedia
Georgia Writer's Hall of Fame

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Woman Making History #75: Diane Wilson

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diane_wilson.jpgI gotta say, Diane Wilson is freaking amazing.

At the age of 24, Diane Wilson became the fifth-generation captain of a shrimping boat on the Gulf Coast of Texas. In 1989, after reading an article claiming that her home county was a number one U.S. polluter and that the expansion of a plastics plant there would exacerbate this problem, Wilson called a town meeting to discuss the matter. Though many townspeople were against the expansion, it was scheduled anyway. And Wilson turned from a mother and shrimp boat captain to an environmental activist.

Wilson battled for many years to stop chemicals from being dumped in the bay where she fished. She went spoke at rallies, gathered support, and even went on several hunger strikes. In the process, retaliation against Wilson was rampant--her dog was shot, and someone tried to sink her boat with her in it. But she did not give up. Eventually, she got the plastics plant to agree to a zero-change policy.

Later, Wilson took on Dow Chemicals, after she learned about the 1984 chemical spill in India for which reparations were never made. She served four months in jail for chaining herself to Dow property, an experience that led her to another cause for which she now fights--better prison conditions for women.

In 2005, Wilson published a book, An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas. She has been the recipient of several awards, including National Fisherman Magazine Award, Mother Jones' Magazine's Hell Raiser of the Month, and Code Pink Woman of the Year.

Sources:
Truthout
PBS
Americans Who Tell The Truth

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Woman Making History #74: Starhawk

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starhawk.jpgEarth-based spirituality pioneer Starhawk was born in Minnesota in 1951. Her's is a leading voice in American paganism and ecofeminism.

Starhawk is the daughter of Russian-American Jewish parents. She studied film at UCLA and wrote a Goldwyn Award-winning novel in early 1970s, before becoming involved in paganism, Goddess worship, and environmentalism.

Starhawk has authored or co-authored several books on spirituality, including neo-pagan textbook The Spiral Dance. She is also the co-founder of Reclaiming, an organization dedicated to activist paganism, as well as a partner in a film production company, focusing on documentaries about women leaders in paganism.

Sources:
Starhawk's Home Page
Wikipedia

2 Comments

Hey, i met Starhawk a couple of years ago! I think a lot of activists here will remember her as the compost toilet queen, since that's another area of expertise on her part.

Funny, that wasn't in her official bio OR Wikipedia. :)

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Woman Making History #73: Sister Helen Prejean

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sister_helen.jpgMany of us know Sister Helen Prejean only as Susan Sarandon's character in Dead Man Walking. As it turns out, though, writing the book on which the film was based, and ministering to the man featured in the film, is only the tip of this amazing woman's iceberg.

Prejean was born in 1939 in Louisiana. In 1957, she joined the St. Joseph of Medaille order. After joining the order, Prejean went to college, receiving her B.A. in English and Education in 1962. She has taught high school students and worked as a religious director.

Prejean's ministering to death row inmates began in 1981, when she became pen pals with Patrick Sonnier, a man convicted of killing two teenagers and facing the electric chair. It was Prejean's experience with Sonnier that led her to write Dead Man Walking. The book was on the New York Times' Best Seller List for 31 weeks.

After Sonnier's execution, Prejean continued to correspond with and minister to death row inmates in her native Louisiana. She has witnessed five executions and spends much of her time speaking out against capital punishment. She also started Survive, an organization set up to help the families and friends of murder victims. In 2004, she published a second book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions, in which she argues for the innocence of two men she saw executed, Dobie Gillis Williams and Joseph O'Dell.

Prejean served on the board of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty from 1985–1995, serving as Chairperson of the Board from 1993–1995. She is also the honorary chair of the Moratorium Campaign, which advocates for a worldwide end to the death penalty.

Prejean is also an anti-abortion activist.

Sources:

Sister Helen Prejean's Official Website
Wikipedia
The Catholic Weekly

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Woman Making History #72: Billie Jean King

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bj_king.jpgBillie Jean King was born in 1943 in California. She started playing tennis as a child on public tennis courts, and by the age of 17 (in 1961), she gained national fame as part of a team that won the women's doubles at Wimbledon.

Five years later, King won her first (of six) singles title at Wimbledon. The next year, she won the singles title at both Wimbledon and the U.S. National Championships.

As her fame grew, King became a voice for professionalism and gender equity in professional tennis, including advocating for equal prize money in men's and women's tournaments. In 1971, King became the first female athlete ever to earn more than $100,000 in prize money. When she won in the U.S. Open in 1972 and received $15,000 less payout than her male counterpart, King stated publicly that until this discrepancy was resolved, she would not continue to compete in the tournament. By the next year, the men's and women's prize pots were equal.

Perhaps King's best known accomplishment, though probably not her greatest, in 1973 King beat 55 year-old former men's professional tennis player Bobby Riggs in a showcase match. Dubbed "The Battle of the Sexes," the match brought a whole new level of public interest to women's professional tennis.

King served as the first president of the women tennis player's union, the Women's Tennis Association. She co-founded WomenSports Magazine and started the Women's Sports Foundation. When she retired from professional tennis, King had won a record 20 titles at Wimbledon, including six singles, ten women's doubles, and four mixed doubles. Her career prize money totaled over $1.5 million. In 1972, she was the first woman and first tennis player ever to be named Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year.

In the 1990s, King became the coach of the U.S. Fed Cup Team and the women's Olympics tennis squad.

In her personal life, King was the first professional athlete to openly admit having a same-sex relationship. In 2001, she received an award from GLAAD for "furthering the visibility and inclusion of the community in her work."

Sources:
Wikipedia
ESPN
ABC

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Woman Making History #71: Rosa Parks

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Rosa%20Parks.jpgRosa Parks may well be one of the most inaccurately remembered women in history. As everyone knows, she's famous for her refusal to give up her bus seat on December 1, 1955, beginning the Montgomery Bus Boycott. However, Parks was involved in Civil Rights far before that day.

Rosa Parks was born in Alabama in 1913. Her parents divorced soon after her birth and she was raised on a farm by her mother and maternal grandparents. She was forced to drop out of high school to care for her ill mother and grandmother.

In 1932, Parks married. Her husband, Raymond, was a member of the NAACP. After her marriage, Parks finished high school. When she graduated in 1933, less than 7% of Black Americans had high school diplomas.

In 1943, Parks joined the NAACP herself, soon becoming the secretary, a position she held until 1957. Her arrest in 1955 was not the first time she had a run-in with the segregated bus system in Montgomery, nor was she the first person to do so. Earlier, a young black woman named Claudine Colvin had been arrested for the same reason, but as she was not as "upstanding" a citizen as Parks, her case did not serve as a spark for the citywide bus boycott.

After her arrest, Parks lost her job, as did her husband. Parks then began traveling and speaking on behalf of Civil Rights. In 1957, she and her husband moved to Virginia, then to Michigan, in search of work. Parks worked as a seamstress until 1965, when she became secretary to U.S. Representative John Conyers. She remained in this position until her retirement in 1988.

In 1992, Parks published her autobiography, Rosa Parks: My Story. She died in 2005.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Time
Academy of Achievement

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Woman Making History #70: Pauli Murray

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murray.jpgPauli (born Anna) Murray was born in Baltimore in 1910. Both Murray's parents died when she was young, her mother in 1914 and her father in 1923, and relatives in North Carolina raised her and her brothers.

Murray attended Hunter College for as long as she could, but was unable to continue funding her education after the Stock Market Crash in 1929. In the 1930s, Murray worked for the Works Project Administration (WPA) as a remedial reading teacher. She also began to publish articles and poems in magazines during this period, as well as serializing a novel.

Murray also became involved in the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement during the 30s. In 1938, she campaigned to be admitted to University of North Carolina, which had been all white up to that point. Murray's campaign ultimately failed, but garnered a lot of publicity. Murray was also involved in transportation desegregation battles, and she was arrested and imprisoned in 1940 for refusing to sit in the back of a Virginia bus.

In 1941, Murray enrolled in law school at Howard University. The next year, she became a founding member of the civil rights organization Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Murray graduated from Howard in 1944 and moved on to the University of California at Berkeley (after being denied admission to Harvard due to her gender), where she received her master’s degree.

After completing her education, Murray moved to New York City to work full-time in the Civil Rights movement. In 1951, she published a book, States' Laws on Race and Color, which was considered by many to be the premier work on the subject. She followed this book with another book, this time about the racial struggles of her parents and grandparents, and an extended trip to Ghana to explore her roots.

In 1960, President Kennedy appointed Murray to the Committee on Civil and Political Rights. Murray continued her activism in the Civil Rights movement, but was critical of its male-centered nature.

In 1977, Murray became the first African-American woman to become an Episcopal priest.

Pauli Murray died of cancer in Pittsburgh in 1985.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Spartacus Educational
North Carolina Writers
The Pauli Murray Human Relations Award

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Woman Making History #69: Lucretia Mott

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mott.jpgAnd we're back!

Lucretia Mott was born in a Quaker community in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 1793. Mott attended a co-ed Quaker boarding school, Nine Partners, as a teenager and became a teacher at the school as a young woman. In 1811, Mott married a fellow teacher. In the next 17 years, she had six children, five of whom lived to adulthood.

While her children were young, Mott began to devote herself to the Quaker church, becoming a minister by 1821. In the "Great Separation" of the Church in 1827, Mott and her husband followed Elias Hicks in the less evangelical and orthodox branch of the church.

After the separation, Mott began to travel, speaking against slavery. She then began to organize women's abolitionist societies, since existing societies would not usually accept women as members. When Mott attended the World Anti-Slavery Convention in 1840, she found that as a woman she was not allowed to speak and that seating was segregated by gender. At this convention, Mott met Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

In 1847, Cady Stanton and Mott, together with others, hosted a women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Mott presided over this meeting and was the first woman to sign the Women's Declaration of Sentiments that came out of it. The first convention was followed by another convention in 1850 in Rochester.

After the Civil War, Mott was elected the first president of the American Equal Rights Convention, where she worked to reconcile factions that prioritized women's rights and those that prioritized black male suffrage.

Mott continued her involvement with peace and justice and equality causes until her death in 1880.

Sources:
About: Women's History
Mott Project (Pomona College)
National Women's Hall of Fame

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History Making Woman #68: Dorothy Kenyon

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kenyon.gifDorothy Kenyon was born in 1888 in New York City. She was the first of three children. Her father was a patent attorney and she grew up well off.

Kenyon attended Smith College, graduating in 1908. She spent the next several years traveling and enjoying life, then enrolled in New York University School of Law in 1914. She graduated from law school in 1917. She worked as a researcher advising lawyers at the Versailles Peace Conference for her first post-graduate job. She was also known in the 1920s for her support of access to birth control for all women and labor rights.

In 1930, Kenyon opened a private practice with another female lawyer, Dorothy Strauss. In 1939, she left the practice to become a municipal court judge. From 1938 through 1943, she served on the League of Nations Committee to Study the Legal Status of Women, a commitment she followed with membership on the United Nations Committee on the Status of Women from 1946 to 1950.

During the McCarthy trials of the 1950s, Kenyon was accused of involvement with more than 20 Communist organizations. Charges against her were dropped. Kenyon worked as a lawyer for the ACLU and the NAACP in the 1950s and 1960s, and was involved in the fights for Civil Rights and against the Vietnam War.

Dorothy Kenyon died in 1972.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Women's Legal History Biography Project
Agents of Social Change (Smith College Collection)

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Woman Making History #67: Louisa May Alcott

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louisa-may-alcott.jpgLouisa May Alcott was born in 1832 in Philadelphia. She was the second of four girls. Her father was a noted Transcendentalist, her mother a women's rights advocate, and her family dedicated abolitionists. Alcott studied with fellow Transcendentalists Thoreau, Emerson, and Hawthorne as a child, but was mostly educated by her father. Her family mostly lived in poverty during her childhood, and she started work early as a teacher, seamstress, governess, and occasional writer.

In 1860, Alcott began writing for The Atlantic Monthly. She later became the editor of a children's magazine, Merry Museum. She also wrote popular novels under a pseudonym, A.M. Barnard, and moralistic children's tales under her own name, most notably 1868's Little Women and its several sequels.

Alcott never married, but she adopted her two year-old orphaned niece in 1879.

Late in her life, Alcott became involved in women's suffrage. In 1879, she was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts.

Alcott died in 1888 in Boston.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Women Writers
National Women's Hall of Fame

1 Comments

I would highly recommend Miss Alcott's E-mail by Kit Bakke for anyone looking for more info on Alcott's life and writing. I read it recently and I'm planning to check out some of Alcott's lesser known works.

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Woman Making History #66: Elizabeth Cady Stanton

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ElizabethCadyStanton.jpgNot exactly an unknown, but worth revisiting all the same...

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was born in 1815 in upstate New York. She was the eighth of eleven children (only five of whom lived into adulthood) born to a prominent family. Her father was a judge. Like many families in their time and social class, the Cady family owned slaves.

Cady Stanton was formally educated, attending a co-ed school until she was sixteen. In 1830, she enrolled in Emma Willard's Troy Female Seminary, but did not graduate, instead leaving with a deep distrust of Christianity she held for the rest of her life.

In 1940, Cady Stanton was married to anti-slavery activist and orator Henry Brewster Stanton. They honeymooned at the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London. Cady Stanton and her husband had seven children between 1842 and 1859. Throughout the course of their forty-plus year marriage (they remained together until Brewster Stanton's death in 1887), Cady Stanton and her husband lived apart more often than together. While they agreed on many issues, including abolition, they disagreed on others, the most notable being women's rights.

In 1847, the Cady Stanton family moved to Seneca Falls, New York. Though Cady Stanton loved motherhood and her children, she was unhappy with the isolation and lack of intellectual stimulation she found in Seneca Falls. This experience, as well as previous experiences of women's second-class citizenship in the abolitionist movement, sealed Cady Stanton's commitment to women's rights. She and others, including Lucretia Mott, organized the nation's first women's rights convention, in Seneca Falls, in 1848. Cady Stanton drafted the convention's Declaration of Sentiments, based on the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which, among other things, stated boldly that men and women were created equal, and demanding voting rights for women.

In 1851, Cady Stanton met Susan. B. Anthony, who would become her partner in writing and activism. Anthony, who was single and did not have children, was free to do the orating and traveling Cady Stanton did not have time to do, and Stanton took on the heavier burden of writing and research tasks, and was considered an organizer and tactician for the burgeoning movement.

Cady Stanton's woman's rights work was not limited to suffrage. She was also very interested in the role of religion in oppressing women, writing The Women's Bible. She supported divorce rights, property holding rights for women, equal guardianship rights for mothers, and protection of female employment. In 1868, Cady Stanton ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Congress. In her later years, she was also more involved in international activism, traveling to Europe and helping to found the International Council of Women in 1888. She was also a prolific writer, writing, among other things, Eighty Years and More: Reminiscences 1815-1897 and The Woman's Bible,
and co-writing the first three volumes of History of Woman Suffrage (with Matilida Josyln Gage)
.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton died in 1902 at her home in New York.

Sources:
Wikipedia
About: Women's History
National Women's Hall of Fame

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Woman Making History #65: Sarah Buel

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Sarah BuelNot going far from home today...

University of Texas law professor Sarah Buel has spent the bulk of her career working for battered women and children. She is the co-director and founder of UT Law School's Domestic Violence Clinic and the UT Voices Against Violence program, which provides counseling and other services for victims of sexual and domestic violence and assault, as well as addressing the underreported problem of stalking on college campuses.

Buel is herself s domestic violence survivor. After leaving her abusive marriage in 1977, she earned her undergraduate and law degrees (Harvard, cum laude, 1990) while working as a paralegal and serving as a single parent to her child. While at Harvard, she founded or co-founded the Harvard Battered Women's Advocacy Project, the Harvard Women in Prison Project, and the Harvard Children and Family Rights Project.

Buel was a noted attorney right out of Harvard, receiving the Boston Bar Association's Public Service Award in 1991 and both the Massachusetts Bar Association's Outstanding Young Lawyer Award and the American Bar Association's Top Twenty Young Lawyers Award in 1992. She has continued to receive many accolades in since these early ones, including the American Bar Association's Fellows Award in 2001.

Before coming to teach at UT in 1996, Buel worked as a prosecuting attorney in Massachusetts, where she developed several award-winning domestic violence and juvenile programs. She has also served as Special Council for the Texas District and County Attorneys, providing training and case assistance for domestic violence prosecutions, and taught at Harvard Medical School, where she is currently an adjunct professor. Buel has also written extensively on domestic violence and juvenile law, including many articles and training manuals.

Sources:
UT Law Faculty
Fine Living
National Center of Domestic and Sexual Violence

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Woman Making History #64: Toni Morrison

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toni_morrison.jpgToni Morrison was born in 1931 in Ohio. She grew up the second of four children in a working class family. She attended Howard University, graduating with a B.A. in Literature in 1953, then taking her M.A. from Cornell in 1955.

After she left school, Morrison became an English professor at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, then returned to Howard to teach. She married in 1958, had two children, then divorced in 1964. After the divorce, Morrison and her children moved to New York, where she became an editor at Random House.

In her role as editor at Random House, Morrison was instrumental in bringing the work of black authors, particularly women, into the main stream. She also began to teach at the State University of New York. In 1989, she also became an endowed professor at Princeton, a position she held until 2006.

Morrison published her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970. She followed it will many seven novels, some non-fiction works, and most recently several children's books. She is also on the editorial board of The Nation magazine. In 1988, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel, Beloved. In 1993, she received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Nobelprize.org
About: Women's History

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Woman Making History #63: Martha Graham

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martha_graham.jpegMartha Graham was born in 1894 in Pennsylvania. She spent her teenage years in Los Angeles. In 1916, she joined a dance school. Graham was 22 when she started dancing, which is considered very late for a serious dancer.

Seven years after beginning her dance training, Graham moved to New York City. Graham danced, modeled, and taught dance classes to stay afloat. In 1926, she started her own company, the Martha Graham Dance Company. She also taught dance at Bennington College and New York University, and was a founder of the dance program at Julliard. She is considered one of the major creators of modern and experimental dance.

As a performance artist, Graham did not really come to her own until the 1940s, when her dramatic, angst-ridden dance dramas became popular. Graham's style of dance was unlike anything previously seen, with dramatic makeup, sculpted sets, and painful rountines.

Graham continued to dance on stage until 1968, well past the age of retirement for most dancers. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1976. She died in 1991 at the age of 96.

Sources:
Time Magazine
Wikipedia
PBS American Masters

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Woman Making History #62: Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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cpgilman.gifWriter and early feminist theorist Charlotte Perkins Gilman was born in Connecticut in 1860. Harriet Bleacher Stowe was her great-aunt. Gilman's father abandoned the family in 1866, and she grew up in poverty.

Gilman was a voracious reader as a child studied hard. She went to the Rhode Island School of Design for two years, then began to earn a living designing greeting cards. She married an aspiring artist in 1884, then had a daughter. After her daughter's birth, Gilman, who had always tended towards depression, began to have serious problems with it, which were compounded by the medical advice she received, which was to "live as domestic a life as possible" and not give in to the temptations of writing or art. Gilman's most famous short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper," was inspired by her post-natal depression and the ridiculous medical treatment she received.

In 1888, Gilman separated from her husband (they later divorced) and moved to California. She then married again, and became the editor of a literary publication, The Impress. At this time, Gilman began experimentally publishing her own short stories, and in 1893, she published her first book, In This World, satirical feminist poetry.

For the next twenty years, Gilman lectured on feminist ethics, and human rights issues and wrote and published fiction. She also wrote and published her own feminist paper, The Forerunner, from 1909 through 1916. Many of Gilman's novels, including the feminist utopian Harland, were first published serially in her paper.

Gilman did not limit her writing to fiction. She also wrote about women and the economy in Women and Economics (1898) and the need for professional child-care in Concerning Children (1900). She took on religious freedom in 1922 with His Religion and Hers, and wrote a posthumously published autobiography, The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1935).

In 1932, Gilman was diagnosed with inoperable breast cancer. In 1934, her husband died unexpectedly of a cerebral hemorrhage. Gilman, an advocate of euthanasia and the right to die, took an overdose of chloroform and died in 1935. Over the course of her lifetime, Gilman published an amazing 8 novels, 170 stories, 100 poems, and 200 non-fiction pieces.

Sources:
Books and Writers
Women Writers
Wikipedia

2 Comments

Hi. I love your blog btw! But. I have a request. Im writing a research paper on Classical Theory and I want to quote your write-up on Gilman is that ok?

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Woman Making History #61: Pasty Mink

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patsy_mink.jpgPatsy Mink was born on Maui in 1927. Her parents were second generation Japanese-Americans. Mink had experiences with both racism and politics early, overcoming prejudice against Japanese Americans in 1940s Hawaii to become her high school student body president. She was the first female student office holder in her school's history.

After high school, Mink attended the University of Hawaii at Honolulu, then transferred to the University of Nebraska, where she organized to end the long-standing racial segregation policy. Mink then returned to Hawaii, where she took dual Bachelor's degrees in zoology and chemistry. She applied to twenty medical schools in 1948, but none of them would accept a woman. Mink decided to bring suit against those schools, and in the process, decided to become a lawyer.

Mink attended the University of Chicago Law School, who reportedly only accepted her because they believed her to be a man until she got there. She graduated with her law degree in 1951, then married and settled in Honolulu.

When Hawaii began to debate statehood in 1956, Mink was elected representative of her district in the territorial legislature. In 1959, Hawaii became a state, and in 1965, Mink became the first woman of color in the United States Congress.

Mink served six consecutive sessions in the House of Representatives, where one of the most notable things she did was her strong support for Title IX of the Education Act
(renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in 2002), which prohibited gender discrimination in public schools. She also introduced the first comprehensive early childhood education legislation.

In 1977, Mink gave up her seat in the House in order to run for the Senate. She lost her race, but President Carter appointed her to his cabinet as the Assistant Secretary of State. After the end of the Carter administration, Mink returned to Honolulu, where she served on the City Council, eventually becoming its Chair. In 1990, Mink returned to Congress.

Patsy Mink died in 2002, in Honolulu. She was given a state funeral and buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. She was post-humously re-elected to Congress after her death (it was too late to remove her name from the ballot).

Sources:
Wikipedia
Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress
NOW
National Women's Hall of Fame

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Woman Making History #60: Holly Near

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holly_near.jpgThis Christmas Woman Making History has a really special place in my heart, because my mom had a Holly Near album (A Live Album, 1975) when I was a kid that got a lot of play, and my childhood lullaby, which was incredibly appropriate given the situation my mom and I were in, was from that album. I still know all the words, even though the album didn't come out on CD or tape and isn't available anymore. I'll put them at the end, just for old time's sake.

Holly Near was born in 1949 in California. She started performing at the age of eight, moving to singing folk music in a group called the Freedom Singers when she was in high school in the early 1960s. In 1968, she enrolled in the UCLA theater arts program and attended her first anti-war protest.

Near's professional career began in 1969, when she got small parts in several television series, including The Mod Squad and The Partridge Family. The next year, she was cast in the Broadway musical Hair.
In 1971, Near joined the FTA (Free the Army) anti-Vietnam traveling road show. In the next few years, she was an active folk and protest singer, working with artists including Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Bernice Johnson Reagon. In 1972, Near founded her own record label, Redwood Records, dedicated to putting out albums by socially conscious artists. Redwood existed for nearly 20 years before going out of business in the early 1990s.

In 1976, Near came out as a lesbian, and she was probably the first out lesbian to be interviewed by People magazine (Near later resumed relationships with men and considers herself bisexual). She continued to make music and work for international peace and human rights for the next several decades, building a discography of 26 albums and writing a one-woman show that appeared off-Broadway.

In recent years, Near has continued her activism, focusing particularly on working for peace and against violence towards women. She participated in the V-Day march in Juarez in 2004 and continues to tour, singing and promoting non-violence. One of her songs, "Singing For Our Lives" (also called "We Are Gentle Angry People") is included in the official Unitarian Universalist hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition.

Sources:
Hollynear.com
Wikipedia
About: Folk Music

Started Out Fine

Started out fine
We were movin' ahead
You were drivin' the truck
I was combing the hair
On the head of the one in the middle
She was lovin' it all
Bouncin' round like a rubber ball

And you thought that she was
Just about the finest kid
And I had to agree
But maybe that's 'cuz she looks like me
And you were taking a space
Maybe takin the place of a father

But then you started seeing that there might be a scene
You got to complainin'
Got pretty mean
First it was the weather, then it was me
Then you started takin' it out on my baby

Well if you think travelin' three is a drag
Pack up loner
I got my own bag
Full of dreams for this little child of wonder
And you can only stay if you start to understand
How an old campfire gets warmer with you
But even when you're gone it still cooks the stew
And the coffee...you freeze my soul
I ain't ready to grow that old

You say go home woman and find you a someone
Who's gonna turn into be a middle class bum anyway
Well he might make me some money
But that ain't the kind of life I'm looking for honey
So don't go around sayin' I been a burden to you
You been a burden to me and we're through
If you can't seem to find the joy in my livin'
You can't seem to get into takin' and givin'
But I got a little one who loves me as much as she needs me
And darlin' that's a lovin' enough
For a hiking boot mother
Seeing the world
For the first time with her own little girl

2 Comments

Hey I found this song on one of her CD's. Did you get the link?

No, your previous post got lost in my spam filter--sorry! Anyway, yeah, there is a version of the song on one of her newer CDs, but it's not the same one I listened to as a kid, sadly. It was good to hear it again anyway, though. I so wish I'd made a tape copy of that album of my mom's when I had the chance!

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Woman Making History #59: Gertrude Ederle

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gert.ederle.jpgGertrude Ederle was born in 1906 in Manhattan. She was the daughter of German immigrant parents. Beginning when she was 13, she trained at the Women's Swimming Association, which was also the birthplace of competing female swimmers Eleanor Holm and Esther Williams. Ederle broke amateur records in swimming from very early in her career.

In 1924, Ederle competed in the Olympics, taking a gold medal as part of the 400-meter freestyle relay team and bronze for her individual performances in the 100- and 400-meter freestyle races.

In 1926, Ederle became the first woman to swim across the English Channel. She did it in 14 hours and 31 minutes, a record that stood until 1950, when it was broken by Florence Chadwick. Ederle's channel swim garnered her a lot of publicity, including exclusive contracts with the New York Daily News and Chicago Tribune, and a ticker tape parade upon her return to New York (attended by a reported 2 million people). At the time Ederle swam the channel, the arduous route had been completed by no other woman and only five men.

After her swimming career came to an end, Ederle played herself in a movie (Swim Girl, Swim) and tour the vaudeville circuit. Later, she spent many years teaching deaf children how to swim, and she herself lost her hearing in the 1940s.

In 1968, Ederle was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. She died in 2003 at the age of 98.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Sports Illustrated for Women
Michigan State University

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Woman Making History #58: Wilma Mankiller

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wilma_mankiller.jpgWilma Mankiller was the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation. She served from 1985 through 1995.

Mankiller was born in 1945 in Oklahoma, on the reservation at Mankiller Flats. When she was a child, her family relocated to San Francisco in hopes of finding a better life. Mankiller became an activist early on, participating in the occupation of Alcatraz and other Native American demonstrations in the in 1960s.

In 1977, Mankiller returned to the reservation in Oklahoma. She started working for the Cherokee Nation in a low-level job and worked her way up to deputy chief, a position to which she was elected in 1983. In 1985, the Principal Chief resigned and Mankiller took over. She was then re-elected in 1987 and in 1991, in an 82% landslide victory.

Mankiller's tenure as Cherokee Nation Chief was full of obstacles, many of them gender-related. However, she overcame resistance to found the Cherokee Nation Community Development Department, revive Cherokee high schools, and increase the Nation population from 55,000 to 156,000. She also focused on providing economic assistance to tribe members wishing to open small businesses.

Mankiller resigned from the Chief position in 1995, mostly due to health concerns. She has written two books, Mankiller: A Chief and her People (1993) and Every Day is a Good Day (2004).

Sources:
National Women's Hall of Fame
Wikipedia
Salon

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Woman Making History #57: Dorothea Dix

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dorothea_dix.jpgDorothea Dix was an early activist on behalf of the mentally ill. She was born in 1802 in Massachusetts. After attempting several career paths appropriate to her gender, she was unsatisfied with all of them and suffered a nervous breakdown in her mid-30s.

In 1936, Dix went to England, where she met a Quaker family with whom she lived for a year. These Quakers believed women should have a public role in government and society, and Dix soon took to their beliefs. She was also exposed to the British "Lunacy Reform Movement," which investigated insane asylums and reported on conditions to the House of Commons.

After returning to the U.S. Dix headed up a statewide investigation on the Massachusetts insane and how they were treated in asylums. In 1843, she reported the results to the state legislature and as an outcome, a bill was introduced to expand the state mental hospital. Dix then traveled to several other states, documenting the conditions of the indigent mentally ill populations and reporting to state legislatures. In Pennsylvania, she was instrumental in the founding of the Harrisburg State Hospital, the first public mental hospital in the state. She also lobbied for a large national mental health facility, but President Pierce vetoed the bill, saying the federal government should not get involved in state social programs.

In the mid-1850s, Dix returned to Europe and conducted investigations of asylums in Scotland. After returning to the U.S., during the Civil War, she was appointed Superintendent of Army Nurses. This did not work out well, however, and she was relieved of responsibility.

After the war, Dix returned to her advocacy work, traveling widely in Europe, reporting on conditions, and helping build hospitals there. Over the course of her career as an activist and spokesperson for the mentally ill, Dix helped to establish mental hospitals in 11 U.S. states, Turkey, Russia, France, and Scotland.

Dorothea Dix died in 1887 at the New Jersey State Hospital.

Sources:
Wikipedia
National Women's Hall of Fame
Spartacus School

1 Comments

a typo: She traveled to England in 1836 not 1936. Also,Dorothea Dix established the New Jersey Lunatic Asylum in Trenton NJ, her first "baby" and was there at the outset of the Civil War.

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Woman Making History #56: Queen Lili'uokalani

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queenl.jpgQueen Lili'uokalani as the last queen of the Hawaiian islands. She was born in 1838 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her birth parents were high chief Kapaakea and chiefess Keohokalol, but she was adopted at birth by Abner and Konia Paki. She was enrolled in the Royal School at age 4, where she became part of the royal circle attending Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma. In 1862, she married John Own Dominis, who became governor of Oahu and Maui. They had no children, and Dominis died soon after Lili'uokalani assumed the throne.

In 1891, Lili'uokalani became queen when her brother, King Kalakauam, died. Shortly after becoming queen, she attempted to put forth a new Hawaiian constitution, stretching the power of the monarchy and the native Hawaiian people. Her government was overthrown, she was deposed, and provisional government was instituted. The American Cleveland administration commissioned a report and found that her overthrow was illegal, offering to put her back on the throne if she offered amnesty to everyone responsible for the coup. Due in part to the queen's original instance that the perpetrators of her overthrow be punished (she later reversed this position), she never regained her throne. Instead, in 1894, Hawaii was declared a republic, and in 1898 it was annexed to the United States.

Lili'uokalani reported made several failed attempts to regain her crown, had some legal trouble due to possession of firearms, then finally accepted life as a private citizen. She wrote a history of her country, Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen (1898) and several songs. She died in 1917.

Sources:
Wikipedia
University of Illinois at Chicago
Hawaii State Government

1 Comments

i love u Lili'uokalani! u r my idol.

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Woman Making History #55: Sally Ride

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sally_ride.jpgSally Ride was born in 1951 in Los Angeles, California. She attended Stanford, taking a Bachelor's in Physics and a Bachelor's in English in 1973, then a Ph.D. in Physics in 1978. She was also a nationally ranked tennis player as a young woman, but chose science over tennis as a career.

After getting her Ph.D., Ride was chosen by NASA as an astronaut candidate. She was one of six women in NASA's first class of coed trainees. She completed the one-year training course, then worked for NASA in several capacities. In 1983, she became the first woman in space as a crew member on the Challenger space shuttle.

Ride worked for NASA until 1987, at which time she took a job at the Stanford University Center for International Security and Arms Control. Two years later, she became a professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego. She is currently on leave from that position and is serving as the president and CEO of Sally Ride Science, which creates science programs and publications for middle and high school students, particularly girls.

Ride has also written several children's books about space, including The Mystery of Mars (1999), To Space and Back (1989),The Third Planet: Exploring Earth from Space (2004), and Voyager (2005).

Sources:
NASA
Wikipedia
About: Women's History

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Woman Making History #54: Josephine Baker

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Josephine BakerHmm...this is an interesting choice. Kind of jumped out at me when I started looking for a picture...

Josephine Baker was an actress, dancer, singer, and burlesque performer. She was born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis in 1906. She was African-American/Native American, by way of her mother, and the identity of her father has been widely debated. The most popular opinion is that he was Eddie Carson, a vaudeville drummer.

As a child, Baker danced and sang in the streets for money, as well as doing laundry, waiting tables, cleaning houses, and babysitting. She started performing vaudeville at the age of 15, moving to New York during the Harlem Renaissance and performing in popular clubs and Broadway choruses. In 1925, she began performing in Paris, her act getting more and more successful as it became increasingly erotic and her costumes increasingly skimpy.

In the 1930s, Baker starred in several French films. She also had a recording hit, and posed for painters and sculptors including Picasso. Earnest Hemingway called her "the most sensational woman anyone ever saw." However, her French popularity did not translate to American fame, and her returns to America during this time disappointing. Baker married a Frenchman in 1937 and became a French citizen.

During World War II, Baker remained in France and participated in the Underground. During the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s, Baker showed her support, even though she still lived in France. She refused to perform for segregated audiences on her trips to the U.S., and worked with the NAACP. In 1963, she was the only woman to speak at Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington.

Baker was married six times and adopted twelve multi-national children. She was also linked with Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

In 1975, at the age of 68, Baker died of a brain hemorrhage. She was the first American-born woman ever to receive French military honors at her funeral.

Sources:
Wikipedia
The Official Josephine Baker Website
PBS African American World

1 Comments

Josephine Baker is an American and International Legend. Though she remains to be a force to be reckoned with, Josephine has shown the world that she is entertainment at it's best. Her style, her outlandish behavior,the costumes, that voice and that energy. Miss Baker can presumably be the only entertainer that has graced the stages Internationally and be loved by many. One can maintain that Miss Baker lived a life like no other, spotlighting the world with her escapades and her dynamic bigger than life performances. Her spirit and contribution to the stage resonates in many of todays performers, such as Diana Ross who deemed to play her life story but was not given the opportunity when Lynn Whitfield played her perfectively in an HBO performance that garnered her many accolades. Beyonce who has mimicked her in many of her performances pays homage to one of the worlds greatest entertainers. Diana Ross went on to mimick her in a photo spread appearing ala Josephine Baker. Though Miss Baker has been able to entertain us all through music and dance, her life in the end was a tragic one. She died pennyless and homeless, but the world over she died a star and a fundamental part of our American History.

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Woman Making History #53: Dorothea Lange

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dorothea_lange.jpgNoted Depression photographer Dorothea Lange was born in New Jersey in 1895. She had polio as a child and was partially disabled by the experience, walking with a limp for the rest of her life. She attended Columbia University, studying photography, and worked in New York photography studios. In 1918, she started traveling, making her way to San Francisco, where she worked in studio photography during the 1920s. She then married and toured the Southwest with her husband, photographing Native Americans.

When the Depression hit, Lange began to photograph those who were most effected by it. She and her second husband were employed by the Farm Security Administration. migrantmother.jpg

Lange's husband was a labor economist, and her job was to document the victims of the Dust Bowl. Some of these photographs are very famous, particularly "Migrant Mother, Nipoma, California, 1936", shown here.

In 1941, Lange was the first woman to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (which she was never able to complete, due to health problems and her changed focus after the breakout of World War II). During World War II, Lange photographed Japanese-Americans in internment camps and the women working in California shipyards. Her images of the internment camps were so critical that the U.S. Army impounded them.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, Lange traveled extensively internationally, doing photographic essays for Life magazine in Vietnam, Ireland, Pakistan, and India.

Dorothea Lange died in 1965, at the age of 70. She was survived by her second husband, her two children, four step-children, and several grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Sources:
Americans Who Tell the Truth
Wikipedia
Artcyclopedia

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Woman Making History #52: Winona LaDuke

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winona_laduke.jpgWinona LaDuke was born in Los Angeles in 1959. Her father was Anishinaabe, from a reservation in Minnesota, and her mother was Jewish.

LaDuke was raised in Ashland, Oregon. She graduated from Harvard in 1982 with a degree native economic development, then became a high school principal on the White Earth Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota. While working on the reservation, LaDuke became involved in native politics, particularly the struggle to recover native lands. LaDuke went on to found The White Earth Land Recovery Project, the Indigenous Women's Network, and Honor the Earth.

LaDuke is the author of three books--Last Standing Woman (1997), All our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (1999), and Recovering the Sacred: the Power of Naming and Claiming (2005). She has also appeared in several films, including the documentaries Anthem (1997) and The Main Stream (2002) and the feature film Skins (2002).

LaDuke has been honored with several awards, including Ms. Magazine's Woman of the Year (1997) and the Reebok Human Rights Award (1998). In 2000, she was the vice-presidential candidate on the Green Party's Nader presidential ticket. She is also the mother of five.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Mother Jones
Voices from the Gaps

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Woman Making History #51: Barbara Jordan

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babara_jordan.jpgEek. I nearly missed a day. Too busy playing Sims...

Barbara Jordan is a personal heroine of mine. She's a pretty big deal down here, and with good reason, too. There's even a (fairly terrible) statue of her at the airport.

Barbara Jordan was born in the Houston Fifth Ward in 1936. Her father was a preacher. She graduated from Texas Southern University in 1956 and Boston University Law School in 1959. After passing the bar, she returned to Houston to set up practice.

Jordan's first political involvement was in the Kennedy-Johnson campaign in 1960. She made unsuccessful runs for the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and 1964, then won a seat in the state senate in 1966. She was the first African-American Texas senator since Reconstruction and the first black woman ever to serve on the state senate. She served in the state senate until 1972, when she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She was the first black woman from a Southern state to serve in the House.

In the House, Jordan's accomplishments included the impeachment of Richard Nixon, the renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 (and its expansion to cover other minorities), and the Community Reinvestment act of 1977. Jordan was also lauded as a speaker, with her keynote at the 1976 Democratic Convention widely considered one of the best in modern history. She was both the first woman and the first African-American ever to give the address.

In 1979, Jordan retired from the Senate and started teaching at the University of Texas Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. By this time, she had begun suffering from multiple sclerosis. Her health gradually deteriorated for many years, but she kept on working. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and was elected to the national Women's Hall of Fame in 1990. President Bill Clinton wanted to nominate her for the Supreme Court, but by the time he could do so, her health would not permit her to serve.

Barbara Jordan died in 1996. She lay in state at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum before her burial at the Texas State Cemetery, where she was the first black woman ever interred.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Lambda
National Women's Hall of Fame

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Woman Making History #50: Susan Love

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Susan_Love.jpgDr. Susan Love was born in 1948, the eldest of five children. Love studied pre-med at the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, but did not graduate, leaving after two years to take residence in a New York City convent. A bit later, Love left the convent and returned to her studies, enrolling in Fordham College, where she took her B.S. in 1970. Love then got her M.D. from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, graduating cum laude.

Love went on to a surgical residency at Beth Israel Hospital in New York, ending up chief resident by 1979, which was almost unheard of for a woman at the time. She then became the hospital's first female staff surgeon. Over the course of the next decades, Love continued to break barriers for women. She taught at Harvard Medical School from 1980 to 1992.

Slowly, Love began to focus on women's health, and particularly on breast health. She says this is because female patients were routed to her due to her gender, and after seeing a few of them, it became clear they were not being treated very well elsewhere. In particular, Love was dismayed at how little information patients were given about their bodies and their treatment options. In 1981, Love became a member of the Breast Evaluation Clinic at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and in 1988 she went on to found the Faulkner Breast Center, the first medical institution in the country with a multi-disciplinary all-female staff.

In 1990, Dr. Love co-wrote what has become the standard book on breast health, Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book. The book has been revised and reprinted four times since its initial release. The same year, Love helped to found the National Breast Cancer Coalition, an organization for which she still serves as director. The grassroots group's mission is to advance research and increase comprehensive, patient-centered care. Since its development, federal funding for breast cancer has increased over 800 percent.

Through the 1990s, Dr. Love continued to help found breast cancer institutes and teach other doctors. She was the founding director of the Revlon/UCLA Breast Center, then became the medical director of the Santa Barbara Breast Cancer Institute, later renamed the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation.

Dr. Love has won numerous awards for her work. She also co-wrote a second book, Dr. Susan Love's Menopause and Hormone Book, in 1998, and served on the National Cancer Advisory Board from 1998 to 2004.

Recently, Dr. Love has focused her work on advocacy and the development of better diagnostic tools for breast cancer.

Sources:
Harry Walker Agency
My Hero Project
WomenOf.com

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Woman Making History #49: Oprah Winfrey

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Oprah_Winfrey.jpgToday we've got someone everybody has heard of.

Oprah Winfrey was born in 1954 in Mississippi. She was raised by her grandmother on a farm until she was six, then lived in Milwaukee with her mother until she reached her teens. Winfrey ran away at 13, due to abuse and molestation, and after she was rejected from an overly full juvenile detention center, she was sent to live with her father in Nashville.

Winfrey's broadcast career began in her late teens, when she got a job at a Nashville radio station. She later worked in local television while attending Tennessee State University. In 1976, she moved to Baltimore to become a news anchor, and she was soon serving as a cost-host of a local talk show.

In 1984, Winfrey moved again, this time to Chicago, to take a job hosting a local talk show, AM Chicago. In 1985, the format of the show was expanded and it was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show. It has been seen nationally since 1986.

The Oprah Winfrey Show became the number one talk show in the nation in less than a year. It was immediately embraced by the public and critics alike, winning numerous Daytime Emmys in its first year of eligibility. In 1988, Winfrey won the International Radio and Television Society's "Broadcaster of the Year" award. She was the youngest person ever to receive the honor, and only the 5th woman.

Along with her show, Winfrey also started doing serious acting in the 1980s. In 1985, she portrayed Sofia in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the Alice Walker novel The Color Purple. Her performance garnered both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. She went on to form her own production company, Harpo Productions, in 1986.

By 1988, Harpo had acquired the rights to The Oprah Winfrey Show. This made Winfrey the first woman ever to own and produce her own talk show. Harpo went on to produce the television miniseries The Women of Brewster Place (1989), TV movies There Are No Children Here (1993) and Before Women Had Wings (1997), and the feature films Beloved (1998), an adaptation of Toni Morrison's novel, and Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005), an adaptation of the Zora Neale Hurston novel. Winfrey appeared in all of these productions but the last one.

Aside from her television and film work, Winfrey also publishes two magazines, O, the Oprah Magazine and O at Home, and has co-authored several books, mostly dealing with her weight struggles and various diets and exercise plans. In 2002, Fortune magazine called O the most successful start-up ever in the magazine industry.

Winfrey's work has not been limited to entertainment. In 1991, she started an anti-child abuse campaign, focused on establishing a national database of child abuse offenders. Winfrey has also been very involved in her own campaign to get Americans reading more, debuting the very popular Oprah Book Club on her show in 1996. In 1999, she was presented with the National Book Foundation's 50th anniversary gold medal for her involvement with books. In 2000, Winfrey's "Angel Network" began giving $100,000 awards, called "Use Your Life" awards, to people who improve the lives of others. The organization has also given significant amounts to non-profit organizations that support the underprivileged worldwide. In addition, she has used her celebrity and her money towards various causes, including raising over $3 million for victims of Hurricane Katrina and giving nearly $10 million of her own. In 2005, Winfrey became the first black person ever to be listed among Business Week's 50 Most Generous Philanthropists. The 235th richest American, she was the 37th most giving.

Oprah Winfrey has been called the most powerful woman in the world, one of the top 100 most influential people in the 20th century, and the world's only Black billionaire. VH1 recently named her the greatest pop culture icon of all time.

Sources:
Academy of Achievement
Wikipedia
Oprah.com

2 Comments

I just love to watch this great lady. she is inspiring and gives hope for a better tomorrow.

I love to watch this powerful lady, I wish if she can come to Guyana

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Woman Making History #48: Sarah James

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sarah_james.jpgWoohoo! Another fantastic woman about whom I knew nothing previous to this project! This is what makes it all worthwhile.

Sarah James is an activist for indigenous rights and environmental issues in the Arctic. She has led the fight against drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge since 1988. She has also been a member of the International Indian Treaty Council since 1989, working to address human rights abuses against indigenous peoples.

James resides in Arctic Village, Alaska, the northernmost Native village in the U.S. She is a member of the Neetsaii Gwich'in tribe, a group of about 8,000 who base most of their traditional diet on caribou meat. These caribou would be among the native species threatened by drilling in ANWAR.

James speaks widely on issues of human rights, indigenous rights, and Arctic environmental protection. In 2004, she was honored as a finalist for the Buffett Award for Indigenous Leadership.

Sources:
Save the Arctic
Ecotrust
Washington Post

1 Comments

Adventure travel writer and photographer, Bert Gildart, has a series of photographs and stories about the Gwich'in and an article about Sarah James on his website: http://gildartphoto.com/gwichin.htm

You are right, she is an amazing woman.

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Woman Making History #47: Zora Neale Hurston

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Zora Neale HurstonZora Neale Hurston's exact birth date and birthplace are reported differently depending on the source, as was the case when she was alive. The most common belief is that she was born in 1891 in Alabama, but moved to Florida at a young age and spent her childhood there. Her mother died when was 13, after which her father sent her away to a private school. She went to college at Howard University, studying anthropology, but did not graduate due to financial constraints. She was later offered a scholarship to Barnard College, and she graduated with a B.A. in anthropology in 1927. In the course of her studies, Hurston worked with noted anthropologist Franz Boas, as well as Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead.

Though she is best known by contemporary audiences for her fiction, particularly Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), Hurston's professional dedications were not only to fiction, but also to folklore, ethnography and dance. She wrote a book about folklore, Mules and Men (1935), and produced dance number for a Broadway play. In 1937, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship to travel to Haiti and study Vodun (known commonly as voodoo), after which she wrote another non-fiction book, Tell My Horse (1938).

Politically, Hurston was more conservative than many of her contemporary authors and artists. She was a staunch anti-communist and supported Robert Taft's presidential bid in 1952. She also opposed the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, and was generally detached from the Civil Rights Movement.

Hurston's relative obscurity during her lifetime can be attributed to any of several causes. Many prominent liberal thinkers objected to the "black" dialect she used for the characters in her books, saying it made them seem like caricatures (this very same dialect has been praised as "realistic" in more recent times). She was criticized by the black community for allowing her work to be supported by white patrons, and for writing about white characters in Seraph on the Suwanee (1948). Her conservative politics alienated her from fellow artists. Any or all of these factors may have come into play. Hurston died in Florida in 1960, penniless. Her grave was unmarked until Alice Walker and Charlotte Hunt discovered it in 1973, at which time her work experienced a renaissance

Sources:
Women in History
Wikipedia
About: Women's History

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Woman Making History #46: Mary Harris "Mother" Jones

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Mother Jones with her dogMary Harris was born in Ireland in 1837. She and her family moved to Toronto when she was a young girl, shortly after her grandfather was hanged by the British for being part of the Irish Republican Movement.

When she finished school, Harris moved to the U.S., where she worked as a seamstress in Chicago and a teacher in Michigan. She met her husband, George Jones, through union involvement, and they married in 1861. The couple quickly had four children.

In Tennessee in 1867, Jones' husband and children died during the Yellow Fever Epidemic. After her family died, Jones moved to Chicago and became a dressmaker. A few years later, in 1871, she lost all of her property in the Great Chicago Fire. These two events are said to be the ones that shaped Jones' later life. Needing an income, she was employed by the Knights of Labor, a precursor organization to the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which Jones helped to found in 1905. In the course of her labor work in the late 1800s, Jones was heavily involved in United Mine Workers' activities, as well as in the Socialist Party of America.

One aspect of organizing for which Jones is particularly noted in the organization of the wives and children of workers, particularly mine workers, and child workers themselves. In 1903, she organized a "Children's Crusade," in which children who worked in mills and mines marched from Kensington, Pennsylvania to Oyster Bay, New York (the home of president Theodore Roosevelt). The children held signs reading "We want time to play" and "We want to go to school." Though Roosevelt largely ignored the protest, it did bring the issue of child labor to the forefront of public (and union) thought.

In the early part of the 1900's, Mother Jones continued to organize both adults and children and was subsequently hassled by the police and the government, put under house arrest, charged with crimes, attacked by hired thugs, and even serving some time in prison. Corporations she had organized against also sued her for slander and libel. In 1925, when men broke into the house she where she was staying and attacked her, Jones fought them both off. One man later died from his wounds. Jones was 88 years old.

Mother Jones continued her organizing work up until her death in 1930, at the age of 93.

Sources:
Wikipedia
About: Women's History
Faces of Protest
A Celebration of Women Writers

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Okay, she's my new hero. Holy crap!

Isn't she fantastic? There's a fairly new biography of her (within the past few years, not new-new), Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America, by Elliott J. Gorn, that is supposed to be really good. I have it on my shelf to read, but haven't gotten to it yet. She also wrote her own autobiography back in like 1925 that I bet would be a good read.

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Woman Making History #45: Audre Lorde

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audre lordeAudre Lorde was born to a West Indian family in New York City in 1934. She was the youngest of five children and legally blind from birth. She attended Hunter College, graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Library Science in 1959.

In 1954, Lorde spent a year abroad at the National University of Mexico. While in Mexico, she came to her own identity both as a poet and as a lesbian. Upon her return, she became active in the gay community in Greenwich Village. She also attended Columbia University, getting a Masters in Library Science in 1961. Despite her revelation about her sexuality, Lorde married in 1962 and had two children. She and her husband divorced in 1970.

During the 1960s, Lorde's poetry was published regularly in anthologies and black magazines. Her first independant volume, The First Cities, was published in 1968. Also in 1968, Lorde took a NEA-funded poet-in-residence position at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. There, she met Frances Clayton, who was to be her partner for the rest of her life.

In 1970, Lorde published her second volume of poetry, Cables to Rage, which was followed by From a Land Where Other People Live in 1972. In 1974, her focused switched from love to politics with New York Head Shot and Museum.

Lorde continued to publish poetry throughout the 1970s. When she was diagnosed with cancer in 1980, she switched to prose, writing The Cancer Journals. She followed this with more poetry, including her most famous work, The Black Unicorn (1978), then with more prose, including Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982). She and writer Barbara Smith founded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. Lorde also co-founded Sisters in Support of Sisters in South Africa, an organization working to raise awareness of the state of women under apartheid.

Along with all of her writing, Lorde spoke and taught. She was a professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice from 1979 to 1981 and at Hunter College from 1981 to 1987. In 1991-92, she was also the New York poet laureate. She died of breast cancer in 1992.

Sources:
Wikipedia
The Academy of American Poets
New York State Writers Institute

1 Comments

I'm so happy you're doing this project. I had an experience today that I want to share with you:

I've been working on a unit of women's history for high school kids. It has required research that I'm not unfamiliar with, but putting it together in a comprehensive way that will excite young people is a challenge.

Anyway, I've been chipping away at it. I finally finished all of my notes and started reading over them to do the actual activities/lessons. Then, I suddenly realized I had pages upon pages that represented the lives of women: women who fought, struggled, and died for their sisters (and brothers, in some cases). And, I was just overcome by it. I lost it and started crying.

While history has always affected me, and has been my academic and professional work for a while now, it took writing history in a new format (history education) to literally move me to tears. I wonder if your experience writing for the web has impacted you in any kind of different way?

And if the answer is no, feel free to label me a sap and call it a day. ;-)

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Woman Making History #44: Eleanor Roosevelt

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Eleanor RooseveltEleanor Roosevelt gets trotted out as an example of mid-century feminism all the time. Generally by people who can't come up with another name. For this reason, I, frankly, get kind of tired of her. But for the purposes of this project, I've tried to take a step back and reconsider what she actually did.

Eleanor Roosevelt was born in New York City in 1884. Both of her parents died when she was a child, and she lived with their grandmother before going to boarding school in England. As a child and a young woman, Roosevelt was plagued by feelings of insecurity due to her "plain" looks and shyness.

Roosevelt returned the U.S. after high school, where she married a distant cousin, Franklin Roosevelt, in 1905. Eleanor's uncle (and godfather), president Theodore Roosevelt, gave her away at their wedding.

The Roosevelts lived in Albany, New York, where Franklin served in the Senate and Eleanor had six children. Franklin then served as Assisant Secretary of the Navy, before getting polio in 1921. While her husband recooperated, Eleanor became heavily involved in the women's division of the State Democratic Committee. After making his recovery (though he used a wheelchair for the rest of his life), Franklin became for New York State Governor in 1928. In 1933, as the country faced the Great Depression, the Roosevelts moved into the White House.

Eleanor Roosevelt upheld all of the traditional social duties of the First Lady, but she also broke the mold, holding her own press conferences, traveling, giving lectures and speaking on the radio, and writing a daily syndicated newspaper column.

After President Roosevelt died in 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt moved back to New York. However, her political activities did not cease. She was instrumental in drafting the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and served as the first chair of the UN Human Rights Commission. She was an American spokesperson to the United Nations and remainded active in the Democratic Party until her death in 1962.

Sources:
The White House
Wikipedia
Time

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Woman Making History #43: Pat Humphries

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Pat HumphriesBorn in 1960 in northeast Ohio, activist folk singer Pat Humphries began playing music in Cleveland coffee houses in the late 1970s, sitting in with a number of folk, old-time, and bluegrass bands. She struck out on her own in 1984, performing her own original music as well as the music of folk anti-war legend Phil Ochs. At this time, she wrote the song "Keep On Moving Forward (Never Turning Back)," which has since become an anthem often heard at protests and marches.

Since striking out, Humphries has built up a steady following of activist folkie fans. Her songs have been done by notable performers, including Pete Seeger. More recently, Pat has begun performing with her partner, Sandy Opatow. The two call themselves Emma's Revolution, and their song "If I Give Your Name," from their debut CD "1 X 1,000,000 = change," won the Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2003. The duo's songs have also been featured on Democracy Now! and NPR's "All Things Considered."

Sources:
Emma's Revolution
Pat Humphries

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Woman Making History #42: Fannie Lou Hamer

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fannie_hamer.jpgFannie Lou Hamer was born in 1917 in Mississippi. She was descended from slaves and grew up one of 19 children in a sharecropping family. After she married, she and her husband were sharecroppers as well.

In 1962, at the age of 44, Hamer became involved in African-American voter registration drives through the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Previous to meeting SNCC representatives, Hamer is said to have not even been aware that Black Americans had the legal right to vote. From this time on, Hamer was very involved in Civil Rights activism. She was jailed and tortured for attempting to vote, lost her job, and even got death threats. So she became a Field Secretary for SNCC.

Hamer went on to co-found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, challenging the all-white Mississippi Democratic delegation at the Democratic National Convention. Captured on national television while at the convention, Hamer became a bit of a celebrity, speaking about her life as a black woman in the Deep South. After the Convention, Hamer received (and accepted) many speaking requests all over the country.

In 1964 and 1965, Hamer ran (unsuccessfully) for Congress on the Freedom Democratic ticket. In 1968, she was seated as a Democratic delegate from Mississippi at the Democratic National Convention, where she spoke against the Vietnam War. Hamer also continued grassroots level work, including Head-Start programs and the first Southern Black cooperative farm.

Hamer died of breast cancer in 1977.

Sources:
SNCC
Wikipedia
National Women's Hall of Fame

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Woman Making History #41: Kathy Kelly

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Kathy KellyKathy Kelly is a peace activist and three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee. In 1996, she co-founded Voices in the Wilderness, a group working against the U.S./U.N. sanctions of Iraq and the harm they caused the Iraqi people.

Kelly was born in 1953 in Chicago. She attended Loyola University, then graduate school at the Chicago Theological Seminary. While at seminary, Kelly volunteered at the Catholic Workers soup kitchen. When she became a high school English teacher, Kelly continued to work on neighborhood poverty issues, both in her own life and in the connections she urged her students to make.

Kelly's activism moved from neighborhood poverty issues to issues of global peace. She served nine months in jail for planting corn in missile silo soil, and her teaching wages were garnered when she refused to pay federal taxes that fund weapons. She has been arrested for protesting, as well as for trespassing on the soil of the School of the Americas (earning her another three months incarceration).

Kelly and her fellow Voices in the Wilderness activists organized 70 delegations to Iraq, equipped with food, toys, and medicine, between 1996 and 2003. She and her organization were fined heavily for going against the sanctions, and have refused to pay those fines. Kelly herself has visited Iraq twice since the beginning of the most recent war there. She has also written a book, Other Lands Have Dreams: From Baghdad to Pekin Prison (2005).

Sources:
Americans Who Tell the Truth
Voices in the Wilderness

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Woman Making History #40: Alice Hamilton

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Alice HamiltonDr. Alice Hamilton was the first woman ever on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, as well as a founder of the field of occupational health, specifically toxicology.

Alice Hamilton was born in 1869 in Indiana. She was home-schooled as a child, then went to finishing school in her teens. In 1893, she took her doctorate of medicine from The University of Michigan Medical School. After doing internships for several years, she went to Europe to study bacteriology and pathology from 1895 to 1897. In 1897, she moved to Chicago and took a position as a professor of pathology at the Women's Medical School at Northwestern University.

While living in Chicago, Hamilton became a member and resident of Hull House, the settlement house formed by Jane Addams. Living at Hull House, alongside the poor, Hamilton became very interested in the occupational causes of many poor workers' illnesses. In 1907, she began to explore literature from abroad on what was then called "industrial medicine"--illnesses caused by certain industrial jobs. In 1908, she published her first article on the topic.

In 1910, Hamilton was appointed commissioner to Illinois' new Occupational Diseases Commission. In 1919, she was hired as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School's new Department of Industrial Medicine. She was Harvard Medical's first female professor. From 1924 to 1930, she also served as the only female member of the League of Nations' health committee.

Hamilton retired from Harvard in 1935, keeping her connection to the school as a professor emeritus. She then served as a medical consultant to the U.S. Division of Labor Standards.

Hamilton died in 1970, at the age of 101.

Sources
Wikipedia
Women in Chemistry
Changing the Face of Medicine

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Woman Making History #39: Ruth Bader Ginsberg

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Ruth Bader GinsbergRuth Bader Ginsberg (nee Joan Ruth Bader) was born in 1933 in Brooklyn. She attended Cornell University, the Columbia Law School, graduating in 1957, then earning an LL.B.

Bader married tax attorney Martin D. Ginsberg in 1954. They have two children.

Bader Ginsberg worked as a law clerk, then for the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure, then became a law professor at Rutgers University from 1963-1972, and Columbia Law School from 1972-1980. She was the first tenured female law professor at Columbia, and co-authored the first law case book on sexual discrimination.

Bader Ginsberg also worked as chief litigator for the ACLU women's rights project, arguing in front of the Supreme Court several times. In 1980, she was appointed by President Carter to the District of Columbia United States Court of Appeals. In 1993, she was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Clinton.

Bader Ginsberg was only the second woman ever on the Supreme Court, and after the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor last year, she is its only female member.

Bader Ginsberg is generally regarded as a "liberal" judge, and she has been consistent on the need to protect women's rights, including abortion rights.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Infoplease
Supreme Court Official Biography

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Woman Making History #38: Guerrilla Girls

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Guerilla Girl with fistEstablished in New York City in 1984, the Guerilla Girls are an underground group of female artists/feminist activists. They dress up in gorilla masks when they make public appearances, and are known by the names of dead female artists.

Most of the Guerilla Girls' most noted actions have come in the form of art projects themselves--they have created posters, stickers, etc. denouncing the male-centricism of art and media. One of their most famous posters, which was shown for a while on New York City buses, asked "Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?" The poster went on to state that less than 5% of the artists represented in the Met's modern art section were female, but 85% of the nudes were women.

The Guerilla Girls have also authored several books, including Bitches, Bimbos, and Ballbreakers: The Guerilla Girls' Illustrated Guide to Female Stereotypes and The Guerilla Girls' Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art. Their books, like their posters and actions, call into question the male-centricism of the modern art world and art history, as well as speaking out against misogyny in other aspects of life. The Guerrilla Girls also put out a quarterly newsletter, "Hot Flashes," funded for some time by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Currently, the Guerrilla Girls consists of three separate organizations. The first, Guerrilla Girls, Inc., continues the original mission of the group, using provocative posters and stickers, as well as published books, traveling lectures, and the web page www.guerrillagirls.com, to insert much-needed feminism into the worlds of art and media. The second, Guerrilla Girls on Tour, Inc., is a touring theater collective, performing plays and street theater actions dramatizing women's history and questioning the sexism and racism of the art and theater worlds. The final group, GuerrillaGirlsBroadband, Inc. (also called "The Broads"), fights many of the same battles as the first two groups, but focuses more on younger women, women of color, and work place issues. Their main tool is their website, www.ggbb.org.

Sources
Guerilla Girls
Wikipedia
The New Yorker

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Woman Making History #37: Dian Fossey

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Dian FosseyDian Fossey was AMAZING.

Fossey was born in California in 1932. She obtained a degree in occupational therapy from San Jose State College, but was interested in animals from a very early age and previously considered veterinary training. After her graduation, she worked for several years at a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.

In 1963, Fossey took a six-week trip to Africa. While in Africa, she met Dr. Louis Leakey, who explained to her the importance of observing great apes (Leakey was also a mentor to Jane Goodall). By 1966, Fossey was working for Leakey, doing her own research and observations on mountain gorillas in the Republic of Congo (then Zaire). She was supported by the National Geographic Society. In 1967, the political situation in the Congo forced her to move her operation to Rwanda.

Fossey's goals, to observe the gorillas' social behaviors, ecology, and demography, required her to be able to identify individual gorillas. In order to do this, she had to live among them for long enough for them to become comfortable with her. By 1970, her efforts were rewarded when a male gorilla touched her hand. This was the first friendly contact between humans and gorillas ever on record.

In 1976, Fossey obtained a belated Ph.D. from Cambridge University. By this time, she had been doing her gorilla research for ten years. In 1980, she accepted a faculty position at Cornell University, which allowed her to write her much-acclaimed book about her work, Gorillas in the Mist.

By the time Fossey's book was published in 1983, the population of mountain gorillas was down to about 250. Digit, a gorilla to whom Fossey was particularly attached, had earlier been killed by poachers, inspiring Fossey to speak often and eloquently about the need to protect the endangered gorilla population from human interference and particularly from poaching. In addition to her anti-poaching work, Fossey worked and spoke against "jailing" animals in zoos, arguing that several animals are often killed when one animal is captured to be taken to a zoo, that animals sometimes do not survive capture and transportation, and that animals in captivity have lower life spans and breeding rates than they do in the wild.

After her book's publication, Fossey returned to her camp in Rwanda to continue to continue her protection and anti-poaching campaign. In 1985, she was murdered in her cabin. Her murderers have never been found.

Today, the population of mountain gorillas is slowing growing, due in large part to the efforts of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, the non-profit Fossey set up in the 1970s.

Sources:
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund
Wikipedia
About: Women's History

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Woman Making History #36: Emma Goldman

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Emma GoldmanI'll admit it. I've been excited about doing this entry since I started the project...

Emma Goldman was born in 1869, to Jewish parents in Lithuania (which was then under Russian control). At the age of 13, Goldman moved with her family to St. Petersburg, Russia. It was here, while working in a corset factory, that Goldman was first exposed to revolutionary, anarchist ideas.

When she was 17, Goldman and her sister emigrated to the United States (upstate New York). Goldman obtained work in a textile factory, and in 1887 she married an American, thereby gaining citizenship.

By the time she was 20, Goldman was a revolutionary. In outrage about the hanging of four anarchists after the Haymarket Riots, Goldman left her marriage and began to travel. She soon moved to New York City, met, and moved in with noted anarchist Alexander Berkman, who became her lover, friend, and political collaborator for many years.

Berkman and Goldman believes that drastic and violent actions were sometimes necessary for the sake of revolution. After Pinkerton agents killed several strikers in the Homestead Strike, Berkman decided Homestead factory manager Henry Clay Frick should be assassinated. Goldman agreed. Berkman attempted to kill Frick, shooting him three times. He was then convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 22 years in prison (he served 14 and was released in 1906). However, he gave no evidence against Goldman for her possible role in planning the attempted assassination, so she was never charged.

In 1893, Goldman became friends with Czech anarchist Hippolyte Havel. She began to travel with him, giving speeches on anarchism. The International Workers of the World (IWW) often funded her. That same year, she was imprisoned on charges of "inciting a riot," for publicly encouraging unemployed workers to "Ask for work. If they do not give you work, ask for bread. If they do not give you work or bread, take bread." Goldman served one year.

In 1901, Goldman was arrested again, with nine others, accused of plotting to assassinate President McKinley, who was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz several days before. Several days later, Goldman was released, as there was no evidence she was associated with the crime. However, this and other increasingly violent actions by anarchists caused increasing suspicion towards the movement, and other movements (particularly labor) began to distance themselves from anarchists.

After Berkman was released from prison in 1906, he and Goldman began publication of anarchist/feminist journal Mother Earth. The journal reprinted essays from famous thinkers who influenced the two, particularly Nietzsche and Tolstoy, as well as original writings, particularly from Goldman.

As the century progressed, Goldman drew increasing scrutiny from federal officials. In 1908, her U.S. citizenship was revoked, though she remained in the country. In 1916, she was once again imprisoned, this time for distributing birth control literature. This time, she served 14 months before being released.

During World War I, Goldman traveled extensively and gave a lot of anti-war speeches. She and Berkman were also instrumental in forming non-conscription leagues and organizing anti-war rallies. In 1917, Goldman was imprisoned again, this time for "draft obstruction." Under the new Espionage Act, Goldman was convicted and served another two years in prison. After her release in 1919, she was deported back to Russia, an undesirable alien under the Sedition Act.

The timing of Goldman's deportation allowed her to witness first-hand the aftermath of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in her home country. Unexpectedly, Goldman was horrified by the political repression, forced labor, and massive destruction and death she saw. After two years, she and Berkman left Russia, traveling to England and France, then living for several years in a French commune at Saint-Tropez. In 1936, Goldman moved to Spain in order to support the Spanish in their fight for independence against Franco and his fascist regime.

Emma Goldman died in 1940 in Canada. The U.S. allowed her body to be brought back into the country, and she was buried in Forest Park, Illinois, close to where the victims of the Haymarket Riot are interred.

Sources:
The Emma Goldman Papers
Wikipedia
The Anarchist Encyclopedia

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Woman Making History #35: Mary Cassatt

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Mary CassattMary Cassatt was born in 1844 in Pennsylvania. She was from a rich family and traveled extensively in Europe as a child. At the age of 17, she began studying art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. After studying here for four years, she moved to Paris in 1866, with the intention of studying European art independently.

Cassatt returned to her family in the U.S. when the Franco-Prussian War broke out, but her family was not supportive of her artistic ventures, so she returned to Paris in 1871. At that point, the archbishop of Pittsburgh commissioned her to go to Europe and paint copies of old masters' paintings.

Upon her return to France, Cassatt studied with Pissarro. In 1872, her first painting was accepted into the Paris Salon, where it was criticized for being too brightly colored and too realistic. Undeterred, Cassatt met Degas and in 1879 her work was displayed in an Impressionists show. Cassatt became an active member of the Impressionists circle, painting mostly in pastel, like Degas.

blue-armchair.jpgCassatt's subject matter was most often people, particularly mothers and their children. In addition to Impressionists, she was also inspired by printmaking and Japanese art. At right, her painting "Little Girl in a Blue Armchair" (1878), is emblematic of her work.

In the early 1880s, Cassatt quit painting in order to care for her mother and sister, both of whom were ill and living in Paris. Her sister died in 1882, but her mother regained her health and Cassatt resumed painting by the middle of the decade. At this point, Cassatt stopped identifying herself with any art movement and painted in a more straightforward, simple way than she had in her Impressionist period. Throughout the 1890s she continued to paint and to serve as a mentor to younger artists, particularly up-and-coming Americans.

Cassatt's brother died in 1906, at which time she took another sabbatical from painting, until 1912. She painted for only a couple of years, however, before her health and impending blindness forced her to stop in 1914. At this time, she also became involved in women's suffrage, exhibiting her work to support the movement.

Cassatt died in 1926. Her paintings have grown in popularity since her death, selling for a high of $2.8 million in 2005.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Art Archive
Web Museum

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Woman Making History #34: Marla Ruzicka

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Marla RuzickaThe youngest woman featured so far in Women Making History (I think), Marla Ruzicka was born in 1976 in California. She died in 2005, at the age of 28, the victim of a car bombing in Iraq. Her car was reportedly caught between that of a suicide bomber and a U.S. military convoy.

In her short time, Ruzicka's contribution was great. She founded the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), an organization providing assistance to victims of the war in Iraq. Previous to her work in Iraq, she was in Afghanistan, working with human rights group Global Exchange to assist Afghani victims of the U.S. attacks there. She lobbied the government to provide aid to families who had lost everything in U.S. invasions, inspiring Senator Patrick Leahy to sponsor a $10 million bill to provide aid to displaced Iraqis and Afghanis.

Ruzicka remained in Iraq even after most international aid organizations deemed the situation too dangerous for their people. She worked tirelessly, often going door-to-door to see what civilians were in need of and what damages they had incurred. Just before her death, she was said to have obtained confidential information from the U.S. military as to the true Iraqi civilian body count.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Democracy Now!
Alternet

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Woman Making History #33: Althea Gibson

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Althea GibsonAlthea Gibson was born in 1927 in South Carolina, but she grew up in Harlem, New York. She was athletic as a child, competing in horsemanship, tennis, and golf. In 1946, she was sponsored to go to North Carolina for tennis training. The next year, she won her first of ten straight national tennis championships for black women.

Gibson continued to play tennis while attending college, graduating from Florida A&M University in 1953. In 1950, she became the first black women to compete on the world tennis circuit. She won many tennis championships throughout the 1950s, including the Italian Championships, French Championships, and Wimbledon Championship (several years in a row). In 1957, she was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year and ranked #1 in the world.

In 1958, Gibson retired from tennis. In her retirement, she recorded an album and wrote her autobiography. She also took up golf, becoming the first African-American woman to play in the LPGA in 1968. She was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971, and in 1975 she became the New Jersey Commissioner of Athletics, a position she served in for ten years before going to work in other public service capacities, including the governor's council on physical fitness.

Althea Gibson died in 2003, at the age of 76.

Sources:
The Althea Gibson Website
Wikipedia
About: Women's History

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Woman Making History #32: Matilda Joslyn Gage

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Matilda Joslyn GageMatilda Joslyn Gage was a woman's suffragist, Native American activist, abolitionist, author, lecturer, and general freethinking radical. She was born in Cicero, New York in 1826 and, the child of famous anti-slavery advocate Dr. Hezekiah Joslyn, spent her childhood in a house which served as a station for the underground railroad.

In 1845, Gage married a merchant, Henry Hill Gage. She and her husband settled in Fayetteville, New York, and their home, too, became a haven for fleeing slaves. The Gages had four children.

In 1852, Gage became involved in the struggle for increased civil rights and suffrage for women, speaking at the National Women's Rights Convention in Syracuse, New York. She helped to found the National Women's Suffrage Association (NWSA), serving as president in 1875-76, and as either a chairperson or vice president for over 20 years. She was considered more radical than her co-founders, the better known Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

During the Civil War, Gage worked as an organizer of medical supplies for Union soldiers. She also advocated for a Union course of action that was hinged upon full emancipation of the slaves. During the 1870s, she spoke out against the unfair treatment of Native Americans by the U.S. government, even being adopted by the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk Nation.

In 1878, Gage purchased the Toledo, Ohio suffrage journal The Ballot Box. After changing the name to The National Citizen and Ballot Box, she became the paper's primary writer, thinker, and editor for three years. During this time, the paper served as the national journal for the NSWA.

In 1890, Gage founded the Women's National Liberal Union (WNLU), in response to the increased conservativism and single-mindedness of the national women's organizations, particularly the National American Suffrage Association (NASA), which was formed the same year by combining the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) and the NWSA. Gage served as the organizations' president and the editor of it's journal the Liberal Thinker, until her death in 1898. Her focus by this time was primarily on the need for separation of church and state and the danger Christianity posed to women, suppressing them and reinforcing patriarchy. In 1893, she published a book, Woman, Church and State, which made the same arguments.

Sources:
The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation
Wikipedia

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Woman Making History #31: Judi Bari

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Judi BariJudi Bari was a principal organizer of Earth First! She spent her entire life as an organizer and speaker on behalf of environmental causes, particularly the need to protect old-growth forests. She was also an advocate for social justice, a feminist, an anti-racist, and a voice for labor.

Bari was born in 1949 in Baltimore, Maryland. She was the daughter of acclaimed mathematician Ruth Aaronson Bari. Bari attended the University of Maryland, where she spent much of her time protesting the Vietnam War. She dropped out of college in her fifth year and began working in blue-collar jobs, quickly becoming involved in labor organizing.

Bari and her husband moved to California in 1979. They had two daughters before amicably divorcing.

In the mid-80s, while working in carpentry, Bari became interested in wood, particularly redwoods. When she found out the age of the trees the boards she was using came from, she was outraged and began her involvement in old growth protection activism.

In the course of her activism, Bari used music as an essential organizing tool. She played the fiddle and was apt to bring it out at any march or rally. The Earth First! songbook Up Rise Singing includes several of her songs.

Another thing that set Bari's organizing apart from that of some other environmentalists was her argument that environmental activists could and should build alliances with timber industry workers, and that those workers were a prime target for labor organization. In 1989, Bari wrote an article for the Industrial Worker newspaper exhorting the IWW to focus on the labor concerns of timber industry workers.

In the late 80s and early 90s, Bari, her family, and her fellow organizers were targets of intimidation and violence, allegedly by timber companies. In 1989, she and her daughters were rear-ended by a log truck in their car, and Bari used photographs to prove the truck was the same one that had been stopped by an Earth First! barricade only 24 hours earlier. In 1990, a bomb exploded under the floor board of Bari's car while she and a fellow organizer were in it, injuring Bari severely. Police stated that Bari and her fellow organizer were the only suspects in the crime, as they were carrying a bomb in the car for use in eco-terrorist activities. However, no charges were ever filed.

In 1991, Bari and her fellow organizer filed federal civil rights charges against the FBI and Oakland PD, as well as individual agents of both organizations, for false arrest in the bombing case. In 2002, the activists won their lawsuit with a $4.4 million ruling against the FBI and police defendants.

Bari, however, did not live to see this victory. She died of breast cancer in 1997.

Sources:
The Judi Bari Website
Wikipedia

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Woman Making History #30: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

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Elizabeth Gurley FlynnWoah. I had no idea how cool E.G. Flynn was...

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was born in New Hampshire in 1890. She was educated in socialism by her parents early on, and was dismissed from high school in 1907 for her political activities, at which time she became a full-time organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Flynn organized garment workers in Pennsylvania, silk weavers in New Jersey, restaurant workers in New York, miners in Montana and Wyoming, and textile workers in Massachusetts. She also helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union and campaigned against the executions of Sacco and Vanzetti.

Flynn married in 1908, and gave birth to two children, one of whom died in infancy. She and her husband where separated by the time their second child was born in 1910 and divorced in 1920. Flynn was also partnered with Italian anarchist Carlo Tresca during the 1920s.

In the context of her union work, Flynn worked tirelessly for women's issues. She was concerned with suffrage, birth control access, and male domination of unions. During World War II, she fought for equal pay for women and the establishment of day care centers for working mothers.

Her political activities were limited by ill health in the in the early 1930s, but in 1936 Flynn officially joined the Communist Party, and begin writing a feminist column for the communist newspaper The Daily Worker. In 1938, she was elected to the national committee of the party. In 1940, she was removed from the board of the ACLU for her Communist activities. In 1951, Flynn was arrested and prosecuted under the Smith Act for advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government. Found guilty in 1953, she spent two years in the women’s prison at Alderson, West Virginia, where she wrote The Alderson Story: My Life as a Political Prisoner.

After her release from prison, Flynn resumed her Communist activities, and she became the chairman of the U.S. Communist Party in 1961. She died of heart failure on a trip the Soviet Union in 1964, and she was given a state funeral in Red Square. In 1976, her ACLU membership was posthumously restored.

Sources:
Wikipedia
About: Women's History
Women and Marxism

2 Comments

Where is Massachutes?

Point taken, smart ass.

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Woman Making History #29: Betty Friedan

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Betty FriedanBetty Friedan was born in 1921 in Illinois. She attended Smith College, graduating in 1942. After college, she worked as a journalist for leftist and union publications.

In 1947, Friedan married. She and her husband had three children before divorcing in 1969. In 1952, while pregnant with her second child, Friedan lost her job at a union newspaper. She then worked as a freelance journalist, and became interested in women staying at home after conducting a survey about careers of her classmates at her 15th Smith reunion.

The article Friedan wrote about the results of the survey and her classmates' dissatisfaction with their lives was rejected by every magazine to which she submitted it. This gave Friedan the idea to expand it into a book, which she did. The Feminine Mystique was published in 1963.

The book became a best-seller, with millions of women around the world finding themselves in its pages. Friedan went on to co-found the National Organization for Women (NOW) and serve as its first president (1966-1970). She then helped found NARAL in 1969 and the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971.

Friedan also wrote four more books, It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement (1978), The Second Stage (1981), The Foundation of Age (1993), and her autobiography, Life So Far (2000).

Betty Friedan died in 2006, on her 85th birthday.

Sources:
Wikipedia
The New York Times
The Washington Post

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Woman Making History #28: Dolores Huerta

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Dolores HuertaDolores Huerta was born in New Mexico in 1930. Her parents divorced when she was young, and she and her four siblings were raised by her mother and grandfather in Stockton, California. Huerta's mother ran a restaurant and then a hotel, when Huerta worked as a child. Her father was a day laborer and coal miner who later became a state legislator.

After high school, Huerta married and had two children. She also became a schoolteacher. Neither the marriage nor the career lasted (Huerta later married and divorced again, and had five more children). In 1955, Huerta became a founding member of the Sacramento chapter of the Community Service Organization. Recognizing the needs of farm workers through both her work as a teacher and her work in the CSO, in 1960 Huerta co-founded the Agricultural Workers Association. In 1962, she worked with Cesar Chávez to found the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee and finally the UFW.

In 1968 and 1969, Huerta helped to coordinate the UFW's national table grape boycott. The boycott was successful, resulting in the entire California grape industry signing a three-year collective bargaining contract. Among other things, this contract secured the first medical and pension benefits on record for farm workers. Huerta was also instrumental in the passage of California legislation granting the right to vote in Spanish.

Huerta's entire adult life has been full of agitating and organizing on behalf of farm workers and other low-income workers, particularly Latinos. She has been arrested twenty-two times in peaceful protests. She currently sits on the boards of both People for the American Way and the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Sources:
About: Women's History
Wikipedia
The Dolores Huerta Foundation

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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Woman Making History #27: Amelia Earhart

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Amelia EarhartAmelia Earhart was born in 1897 in Kansas. Her father was an alcoholic, and her mother left him and moved to Chicago, taking Amelia and her sister, in 1914.

Earhart graduated from high school in 1915, then received training as a nurse's aide and worked in nursing in Toronto until the end of World War I. In 1919, she enrolled in the pre-med program at Columbia University, but she quit and moved to California before she graduated.

In California, Earhart saw a stunt flying show and immediately decided to learn to fly. She worked at the telephone company and drove a truck to earn money for flying lessons. In 1923, Earhart became the sixteenth woman ever to be issued a pilot's license by the FAI.

Not able to make a living as a high-altitude flyer, Earhart moved to Boston in 1925, where she began working as a social worker. She also wrote columns for local papers on flying and specifically on encouraging women to fly, and she became somewhat of a local celebrity.

After Charles Lindbergh's history-making flight across the Atlantic in 1927, a wealthy American expatriate living in London, Amy Guest, offered to sponsor a woman to do the same. In 1928, this project was offered to Earhart. For this first flight, however, she was a passenger, not the pilot. Still, the flight made history and made Earhart a bit more of a celebrity.

In 1929, Earhart began to support herself with competitive flying and endorsements. She was dubbed "Lady Lindy" (a reference to Lindbergh) and broke altitude records. In 1931, she married her publicist.

In 1932, Earhart took her solo cross-Atlantic flight. She intended to fly from Newfoundland to Paris, but was forced by bad weather and mechanical problems to land in Northern Ireland. After this first flight, Earhart set several other records, including speed records and the first solo flight from Hawaii to California.

In 1936, Earhart began to plan an around-the-world flight, following the equatorial route. The flight began on St. Patrick's Day in 1937, when Earhart and her crew flew from Oakland, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii. The plane was damaged upon landing in Hawaii and the rest of the flight had to be called off. Funding was secured for a second, try, this time west to east. Earhart and the crew flew first from California to Florida, then made stops in South American, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia, arriving in New Guinea on June 29, 1937.

The plane disappeared between New Guinea and Howland Island on July 2, 1937. There were several hours of garbled communications from the plane, but the Coast Guard stationed on Howland Island was never able to access Earhart's position. Short wave radio calls for help were heard for several days after the plane's disappearance, but nothing was complete enough to find the plane. The Navy and Coast Guard searched for the down plane for two weeks, but it was never found.

Sources:
Official Amelia Earhart Website
Wikipedia

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Woman Making History #26: Sojourner Truth

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Sojourner_Truth.gifIn 1797, Sojourner Truth was born Isabella Baumfree on a Dutch settlement in upstate New York. She was one of thirteen children born to slave parents.

Truth was sold at age nine to an abusive slaveholder. She increasingly turned to religion to comfort her as her situation worsened. She was then sold to a tavern owner, a safer situation, then to another abusive plantation family.

In 1815, Truth fell in love with a slave at another plantation. When their forbidden affair was discovered, her lover was beaten and taken away. She never saw him again, but bore a daughter. Shortly thereafter, she was forced to marry another slave on the plantation where she was held and she had four more children between 1822 and 1826.

During the early 1800s, the state of New York was slowly phasing out slavery. The man who owned Truth promised her emancipation in 1826, a year before the final abolition if she continued to work hard for him, but then reneged on his promise. When Truth felt she had fulfilled her commitment, she escaped the plantation with her infant daughter.

Immediately after her escape, Truth began work to rescue her son, who at the age of five had been illegally sold into slavery in Alabama. After legal proceedings, he was returned to her. At this time, Truth became devotedly religion, attending a Methodist church. In 1829, she left upstate New York with an evangelical teacher.

During the early 1930s, Truth was involved in a religious organization called The Kingdom. She worked as their housekeeper, but continued to preach. The group's activities were increasingly bizarre until they disbanded in 1834.

After her affiliation with The Kingdom, Truth resolved to make her way as a traveling preacher. She changed her name to Sojourner Truth in 1843 and traveled around the East, mostly alone, mostly depending on the kindness of strangers to sustain her. In 1844, she joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry, a 210 person cooperative labor and farming organization in Massachutes. During her time there, she worked with famous abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison.

When the community disbanded in 1846, Truth went to live with one of its founders, George Benson. During this time, she dictated her memoirs, which became The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave (published privately in 1850). The book's success gave Truth the opportunity to support herself with speaking engagements, including her most famous speech, made at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention in 1854, Ain't I a Woman?

Truth then became involved with the Quaker offshoot group Progressive Friends, who worked against slavery and towards non-violence. She spoke on behalf of the Union during the Civil War. In 1870, she began to advocate for the federal government to deed land parcels in the West to freed slaves, work she continued for many years, though it never came about.

Sojourner Truth died in 1883, at the age of 86.

Sources:
Women in History
Sojourner Truth Institute
About: Women's History

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Woman Making History #25: Isadora Duncan

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Isadora Duncan is considered by many to be the mother of modern dance.

Duncan was born in San Francisco in 1877. Her birth name was Dora Angela. She was raised by her mother, her father having left when she was a small child. Both of Duncan's parents were artists, her mother a musician and her father a poet. Duncan's mother supported her family by giving piano lessons, and both Duncan and her sister supplemented the family income by giving dance lessons.

Duncan began her dancing career in Chicago in 1895, where she was rejected by many theaters, who said her style of dancing would never be suitable for the stage, before finding work dancing in a saloon. After being seen in the saloon, Duncan was cast in a small role in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and her family settled in New York.

After enjoying brief and fleeting fame in New York, Duncan and her family moved to London in 1898. After some lean months, Duncan was "discovered" in a park by a London stage star, and her European career was born.

In 1909, Duncan opened a dancing school in Paris, while continuing to perform throughout Europe. She created her own style of bohemian dance, rejected the disciplined postures of ballet as "ugly and unnatural."

Both Duncan's work and her personal life were very controversial. Not only did she expose more of herself on stage and dance in more provocative ways than were considered appropriate at the time, she also bore two children out of wedlock, each with different fathers. (Sadly, both of her children were killed in a car accident with their nanny in 1913.) Finally, Duncan was openly bisexual. Though her life and work were, at least in some circles, accepted and embraced in Europe, she was never lauded in the United States.

In 1922, Duncan, who was sympathetic to the communist experiment, moved to the Soviet Union. She then married a Russian poet 17 years her junior. Her husband was mentally unstable and abusive, and they parted after about a year. He committed suicide in 1925.

In 1924, Duncan returned to Paris. She suffered financial difficulties and alcoholism. In 1927, she was killed in a freak accident when her scarf caught in the open-spoked wheel of an automobile.

Duncan's legacy has lived longer than she did. During her lifetime, she opened two more dancing schools, in Germany and the Soviet Union. In her last years, she wrote an autobiography, Ma Vie, that was published posthumously to very good reviews. Two films, Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World (1967) and Isadora (1968), immortalized Duncan decades after her death.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco
Women in History

3 Comments

Thank you for highlighting this fascinating woman, who i had never heard of before! I've been enjoying your theme as much for the familiar faces (Ellen, Ani) as for these more obscure ones. Looking forward to the final few picks!

Hi,
Nice article.
I am flattered to see that the picture you are using--and you are very welcome to use it--is of me (Patricia Adams) performing "Orientale" to Chopin mazurka Opus 68 No.2.
I'm wondering if you would mind linking this page to our website: http://www.dancesbyisadora.com/Dances_by_Isadora/Home.html.
I have often been told that I resemble Isadora visually and in my rendering of Duncan's choreography.
Please visit our website for more information on the company.
You can contact me directly at: patt.kissinger@gmail.com
Thank you,
Patricia

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U.S. Women's National Soccer TeamThe U.S. Women's National Soccer Team was founded in 1985, the first ever women's soccer team made up of professional, full-time athletes. The team has won two Women's World Cups (1991 and 1999), two Olympic women's tournaments (1996 and 2004), and four Algarve Cups (2000, 2003, 2004, 2005). It is considered one of the most sucessful women's or men's national soccer teams in history.

In 2004, two retired Women's National team players, Mia Hamm and Michelle Akers, were the only two women included in the FIFA 100, a list compiled by soccer legend Pelé of the greatest living footballers.

Sources
Wikipedia
U.S. Soccer Network
United Soccer Athletes

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Woman Making History #23: Ani DiFranco

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AniAni DiFranco was born in 1970 in Buffalo, New York. Her mother Jewish American and her father is Italian-American. DiFranco became an emancipated minor when she was 15.

At the age of 18, DiFranco moved to New York City and started her own record company, Righteous Babe Records, under which she put out her debut album, Ani DiFranco. She built interest in her music through constant playing at local gigs and touring, and spent many years touring constantly on her own.

Over the course of over fifteen years, DiFranco's own career and the popularity of her label has grown exponentially. She has released 18 studio albums and 12 live albums, as well as several EPs and a couple of videos. She has also added other artists to her label, including Utah Phillips, Andrew Bird, and Toshi Reagon. She has also been heavily involved in city renewal in her home town of Buffalo, New York, including buying and renovating a church that was scheduled for demolition and giving it a new life as her record company headquarters and a 1,200 seat music venue. She also started the Righteous Babe Foundation, which backs various grassroots political organizations.

DiFranco uses her position as a musician and a celebrity (at least to her fan base) to encourage political involvement and activism. She is outspoken both in her music and in her comments about anti-racism, peace, and feminism. In 2006, she received NOW's Woman of Courage Award. She is the first musician to have received the award.

In 1998, DiFranco, who is openly bisexual, married her sound technician. The marriage lasted five years. Recently, she has announced she is expecting a baby in early 2007.

Sources
Wikipedia
About: Folk Music
Alternet

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Woman Making History #22: Madame CJ Walker

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Madame CJ WalkerMadame CJ Walker was born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 on a Louisiana Delta plantation. She was the daughter of former slaves and was orphaned at seven. She spent her early years working in cotton fields and married at 14 in order to escape an abusive brother-in-law.

Walker's only daughter, A'Leila, was born in 1885. Two years later, Walker was widowed. She then moved to St. Louis to join her four brothers, who were working as barbers. Earning as little as $1.50 a day as a laundrywoman, Walker still managed to save enough money to educate her daughter.

In the 1890s, Walker began to suffer a scalp condition that caused her to lose most of her hair. After experimenting with several things that were already on the market, Walker began concocting her own creation to cure this ailment. In 1905, she changed her name to "Madame" CJ Walker and began to market Madame Walker's Wonderful Hair Grower.

Walker traveled extensively to promote her product, finally settling in Indianapolis in 1910. There, she built a factory, training school, and salons. In 1913, she went international, traveling to South America and the Caribbean to promote her products. At one point, Madame Walker employed more than 3,000 people.

In 1916, Walker left the day-to-day operations of her business and moved to New York City. There, she participated in many social and political causes. She was especially active in the NAACP's anti-lynching movement. In 1917, she was one of a group of African-American citizens who visited the White House to present the president with a petition for federal anti-lynching legislation.

Madame CJ Walker died in 1919 at her New York estate.

Sources
Official Website of Madame CJ Walker
About: Inventors
Wikipedia

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Woman Making History #21: Ellen DeGeneres

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Ellen DeGeneresEllen DeGeneres was born in 1958 in a New Orleans suburb. She was raised as a Christian Scientist until the age of 13, when her parents divorced. After the divorce, Ellen and her brother, Vance, moved with her mother and new stepfather to Atlanta, Texas.

Ellen attended the University of New Orleans, where she majored in communications. She left school with one semester left and took a series of jobs (clerk, waitress, oyster shucker), none of which she stuck with. In the early 1980s, she began doing stand-up comedy. In 1982, she was chosen by Showtime as the funniest person in America. Shortly after, she appeared on The Tonight Show, where she was the first woman ever to be asked to chat with Johnny after her first visit.

In 1994, Ellen's stand-up was turned into a sitcom, Ellen. The show ran from '94-'98. In 1997, Ellen used her character on the show to come out as a lesbian. This made Ellen one of the first openly gay performers playing one of the first openly gay characters on network television.

After Ellen was cancelled, DeGeneres returned to stand-up. She also briefly appeared in another sitcom, The Ellen Show. In 2001, she also served as the host of the Emmy awards, for which she garnered mostly good reviews.

In 2003, Ellen started a new venture, a talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The talk show's following has steadily grown and it has become quite successful. DeGeneres has also lent her voice to the animated film Finding Nemo, written a book, and appeared in advertisements for American Express. She will also be hosting the Academy Awards in 2007.

DeGeneres is currently partnered with another lesbian celebrity, Portia di Rossi. They have been together since 2004.

Sources
Wikipedia
Infoplease
About: Talk Shows

2 Comments

Ellen is definitely someone that I admire. She has done big things and is proud of who she is. She is my favorite comedian and I absolutely love her talk show. I'm happy that is will be hosting the Academy Awards next year. She is also nominated for a People's Choice Award for 2 categories. Go vote for Ellen at www.pcavote.com! I work with the People's Choice Community so I already voted for her!

That is pretty cool! My mom watches her show all the time, and when I found out my class had to do a Powerpoint about somebody famous her name was the first one to come to mind! thanks so much

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Woman Making History #20: Eve Ensler

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Eve EnslerEve Ensler was born in 1953 to an upper-middle class Jewish family in Scarsdale, New York. She attended Middlebury College, graduating in 1975. She spent much of the 1980s married to Richard McDermott, and is the stepmother of actor Dylan McDermott, who she adopted during the marriage.

In 1996, Ensler wrote The Vagina Monologues, a (originally) one-woman play which channels the voices of women of various ages, sexualities, and races, all talking about their relationships with their bodies, particularly the parts that women have traditionally been ashamed of and afraid to talk about. Since Ensler's original performance of the play in SoHo, it has become an international success, translated into over 35 languages and performed by women as noted as Jane Fonda, Glenn Close, Susan Sarandon, and Oprah Winfrey. The Vagina Monologues won the Obie Award for Best New Play in 1996, and in 1999 Ensler was presented with the Guggenheim Fellowship in Playwriting.

As amazing as the play itself is, out of it grew something even bigger, V-Day. V-Day is "a global movement to stop violence against women and girls." V-Day takes place on February 14, traditionally Valentine's Day, and includes performances of Ensler's play as well as various other anti-violence and pro-woman activities, in cities around the world. The V-Day foundation also provides cash assistance to local level organizations working against violence towards women.

Though it is her most famous, The Vagina Monologues is not Ensler's only play. She is actually the author of more than nine plays and five books. Recently, she has been touring performing her more recent work, The Good Body, which also deals with women's body image. Another newer play, The Treatment, debuted in New York City in September 2006. It deals with the psychological trauma of war.

Ensler's pro-woman and anti-violence activities are not limited to her writing and performing. She is a dedicated activist. Aside from founding the V-Day foundation, she is also involved in the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) and other organizations to support women abroad. She also leads a writing group for incarcerated women at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women.

Sources
Wikipedia
Amnesty International
Mother Jones
V-Day

1 Comments

I'm trying to visit as many of the NaBloPoMo blogs as I can and I thought I'd say hi, I liked your blog.. :) This is interesting stuff, I'll be back.. :)

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Woman Making History #19: Dorothy Day

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dorothyday.jpgDorothy Day was born in Brooklyn in 1897. The Day family moved to Chicago in the mid 1900's. Day's mother was a devout Catholic, and her father, after some time unemployed, was a Chicago newspaperman.

Day entered the University of Illinois at Urbana on a scholarship in 1914. She went for two years, attending more radical functions than she did classes, before she dropped out. She then moved to New York City, where she began writing for the socialist newspaper The Call. She then wrote for The Masses, a magazine opposing U.S. involvement in European war.

In November 1917, Day went to jail with other women for standing in front of the White House to protest women's exclusion from voting. She went with the other women to work camps and participated in hunger strikes until they were freed by presidential order.

Throughout the late teens and early twenties, Day continued to write for newspapers and magazines (as well as write novels), attend protests, and make her way towards the Catholic faith.

In 1927, Day gave birth to her only child, Tamar Theresa Day. She has an abortion several years earlier, for which she felt tremendous guilt and because of which she thought she was unable to conceive, so she considered Tamar's birth a miracle, sealing her faith in God and her commitment to Catholicism. Day both baptized Tamar a Catholic and was received into the Church herself.

In 1932, Day met Peter Maurin, a French immigrant and former Christian brother. It was Maurin's idea to start a newspaper to publicize Catholic teachings as a means of peacefully transforming society. Day ran with this idea, and on May 1, the first copies of The Catholic Worker were distributed.

The Catholic Worker was met with an unusual level of instant success, with a circulation of 100,000 by December 1932. Out of the ideas of kindness, hospitality, and brotherhood featured in the paper, the idea of hospitality houses arose. First Day's own apartment was opened to strangers needing a place to stay, then more apartments were rented for those in need. The number of beds available grew quickly, but, as it was the Depression, there were never enough. What most surprised the people (mostly men) who stayed at the hospitality houses was that nobody tried to reform them or force the faith upon them. There was no idea of deserving poor in the Catholic houses--everyone deserved a roof over his/her head and a hot meal. Everyone deserved a chance.

By 1936, there were 33 Catholic Worker houses spread across the country. There was no time limit for how long people could stay at the Catholic houses--they could stay forever if they wanted to. Once they were there, they were family, Day said.

Even in the times before and during World War II, Day insisted that the paper and the houses remain pacifist--an unpopular position. It took a toll, with 15 houses closing, but Day's program survived. In the 1950's, the houses refused to participate in annual civil defense drills. Day and other dissidents were sent to jail for opposing these drills, for periods of five to thirty days, nearly every year from 1955 to 1960.

The Catholic Workers movement also stressed the importance of civil rights, in keeping with their overall tenants of equality, love, and brotherhood among all people.

Day was last jailed for participating in an illegal protest supporting farm workers in 1973. She was 75 years old.

In her later life, Day was highly regarded, receiving many awards, and visitors such as Mother Theresa. She took communion directly from the Pope in 1967. Many called her a saint. "Don’t' call me a saint," Day said. "I don't want to be dismissed so easily."

Dorothy Day died on November 29, 1980.

Sources
The Catholic Worker

1 Comments

->-> Fellow NaBloPoMo writer. I saw, I clicked, I read.

Thank you for highlighting politcally involved women who made a difference.

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Woman Making History #18: Angela Davis

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Angela DavisAngela Davis was born in 1944 in Birmingham, Alabama, to educated, politically active, middle-class parents. She attended high school at the Little Red School House, a radical private school in Greenwich Village. She then attended Brandeis on a full scholarship, one of only three Black students in her entering class.

Davis graduated from Brandeis magna cum laude in 1965. During her time there, she spent several semesters in Europe, particularly France, and became involved in the European Communist Party and in the Black Power movement. She living in Germany on and off for several years post-graduation, taking her masters from the University of California, San Diego and her Ph.D. in philosophy from the Humboldt University of Berlin, GDR.

During her time as an advanced student in the late 1960s, Davis began working as a lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1969, the UCLA Board of Regents, headed by Ronald Reagan, made the controversial decision to fire her based on her ties to the Communist Party. She was later reinstated, due to public outcry.

During the late 1960s, Davis was involved in the Communist Party, radical feminist organizations, and the Black Power movement, including the Black Panthers. In 1970, she became the third women ever on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List, after she was charged with kidnapping, conspiracy, and murder in the Black Panther's disruption of the Soledad Brothers' trial and subsequent kidnapping and murder of Judge Harold Haley.

Davis was a fugitive for several months before she was detained in New York City. After spending several more months in jail awaiting and standing trial, she was cleared of all charges in 1972.

After she was released, Davis briefly relocated to Cuba. Upon her return to the U.S., she continued a lifetime of teaching and activism. She has been an outspoken opponent of the U.S. prison system and the death penalty, as well as a prominent feminist leader, for several decades. She is a co-founder of Critical Resistance, a grassroots organization dedicated to abolishing the prison-industrial complex. She currently heads the Feminist Studies department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she teaches mostly graduate level courses. She has also authored several books and speaks widely.

In 1997, Davis came out as a lesbian.

Sources
Wikipedia
About: Women's History
Discover the Networks

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Woman Making History #17: Bessie Coleman

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bessiecoleman.jpgStill sick...forgive me...

Bessie Coleman was born in 1892 to a large Texas family. Her father left the family when Coleman was young, and the remainder of her childhood was difficult. She was unable to attend school much beyond the eighth grade due to financial difficulties. At the age of twenty-three, she moved to Chicago to stay with her brother and look for work.

Coleman worked as a beautician in Chicago for several years before, in 1919, she went to France to attend aviation school (there were no opportunities for a black woman to learn to fly in the United States). She was funded by sponsors and her own savings.

In 1921, she became the first African-American to earn an aviation license. She returned to the U.S. to surprising press coverage. Knowing she'd need public following to make flying pay, she created an exciting image, including dressing in military uniform. She flew in air shows and gave lectures for several years, often refusing to perform unless audiences were desegregated.

In April 1926, Bessie Coleman died in a flying accident before an aviation show in Jacksonville, Florida.

Sources
bessiecoleman.com
PBS

1 Comments

I’ve been scanning through your blog. You have some awesome posts on here, especially this one - I really liked it…nice post. Consider yourself bookmarked

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Woman Making History #16: Odetta

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OdettaLegendary folk musician Odetta was born in 1930 in Birmingham, Alabama. She grew up in Los Angeles and started operatic training at the age of 13. After flirting with musical theater, after 1950 she began to focus solely on folk music, touring nationally and building a solid following at venues such as San Francisco's hungry i and New York's Blue Angel.

Odetta was involved in the civil rights movement both as a participant and as an entertainer, marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and performing at civil rights rallies.

Odetta's career spanned several decades, culminating in being awarded the National Endowment for the Arts' Medal of the Arts by President Clinton in 1999, at which time she released her first album of new music in many years, Blues Everywhere I Go. She followed this album with several more records and an international tour in 2006.

Odetta is credited as inspiring some of the greatest musicians of modern times, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Janis Joplin.

Sources

Wikipedia
World Folk Music Association
NPR

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Woman Making History #15: Clara Barton

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barton_clara.jpgClara Barton's is a name most have heard, but I wonder how many could say for sure what she did? I'm embarrassed to say I couldn't have.

Clara Barton was born in 1821 in Massachutes, the far youngest of six siblings. She was home-schooled, taught by her older siblings as much as her parents. Her interest in medicine began at the age of 11, when one of her brothers took ill. She tended him for two years, administering his medications, including leeches. She was also inspired by an aunt who was a noted midwife.

Barton spent her early adulthood working first as a teacher and advocate for public schools and then as a copyist in the U.S. Patent Office. She was the first woman to have an independent clerkship in the U.S. federal government.

When the Civil War began, Barton became a field nurse. Seeing how unprepared the Army Medical Department was for the casualties coming in, in 1861 she formed an agency to obtain and distribute supplies to wounded soldiers. The next year, she got permission from the Army to bring her own supplies on to the battlefields. In 1865, President Lincoln placed her in charge of the search for missing Union soldiers. She traced the fates of 30,000 men while in this position.

After the war, Barton met Susan B. Anthony and began her involvement in women's suffrage. She also met Frederick Douglass and became involved in early black civil rights.

Barton's hard work during and after the Civil War took a toll on her health, and in 1869 her doctor recommended she take a restful vacation to Europe. In 1870, while abroad, she became involved in the International Red Cross. When she returned to the U.S. after this trip, she immediately began work organizing the American Red Cross. In 1881, the American Red Cross was officially founded, with Barton as its President.

Barton continued her work providing medical aid to those in war and disaster situations late into her life. In 1898, she brought a cargo of medical supplies into Cuba; later she spent six weeks aiding survivors of the Galveston floods. She did not resign from the Red Cross until 1904, at the age of 83.

Clara Barton died in 1912 at the age of 91.

Sources
Wikipedia
New York Suffragists
National Women's Hall of Fame

1 Comments

Clara Barton was the youngest of 5 children and she attended school in North Oxford, MA. Her siblings supplemented her education because Clara was an intelligent child who was eager to learn but the subjects were too easy for her. At the age of 29, she attended the Clinton Liberal Inst. in Clinton, NY

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Woman Making History #14: St. Joan Chittister

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St Joan ChittisterNote: This one is a bit sparse not due to disinterest on my part, but due to a swimming viral head. My apologies.

St. Joan Chittister is a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania. She is a social psychologist with a Ph.D. from Penn State, the author of more than 30 books, and a regular columnist for the National Catholic Reporter.

Chittister's work focuses on women’s roles in church and society, human rights, and global peace. She speaks widely on these issues, as well as addresses them in her writing. Chittister has been very critical of the Bush administration and their Iraq policy, and she favors the ordination of women in the Catholic church.

Chittister has received several awards and honors, including the Pax Christi USA Pope Paul VI Teacher of Peace Award in 1990 and the Thomas Merton Award in 2001, joining the likes of Dorothy Day and Sister Helen Prejean.

St. Joan Chittister was born in 1936.

Sources
Benetvision
PBS
Beliefnet
Wikipedia

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Woman Making History #13: Rachel Carson

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Rachel CarsonYou'll have to forgive me for the lateness and possible incoherence of this entry. I've got a miserable cold and blogging is a bit much for me right now. However, because I am committed both to the NaBloPoMo project and my own Woman Making History project, I've got to stick it out and get something up here.

Rachel Carson was a lauded biologist, writer, and environmentalist in the first half of the 20th century. She was born in 1907 in Pennsylvania, where she grew up in a small town. She graduated from Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College) in 1929, then studied at the Wood Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, then received her MA in zoology from Johns Hopkins in 1932. Carson then taught zoology at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland for several years. She hoped to get her Ph.D., but was unable to attain this goal due to financial difficulties and needing to take care of her mother after her father's death.

During the Depression, Carson wrote radio scripts for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. She supplemented this income by writing nature-related feature pieces for the Baltimore Sun. She began her long career in federal service in 1936 as a scientist and editor, and worked her way up to Editor-in-Chief of all publications for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Carson also wrote lyric prose, publishing a book "Under the Sea-Wind" in 1941. In the 1950s, she followed with two "biographies of the ocean," The Sea Around Us in 1952 and The Edge of the Sea in 1955. In 1952, Carson retired from federal service to devote herself to her own writing. At this time, she and her mother moved to rural Maine. Carson also adopted the orphan son of a cousin who had died unexpectedly.

Though she wrote several more articles about the living world, and planned another book about ecology, Carson changed her focus after World War II, as she became increasingly concerned about the use of pesticides, particularly DDT. In 1962, she published Silent Spring (first serialized in The New Yorker), which challenged pesticide use and the general behavior of human kind toward the natural world. The book earned her both respect and some attacks by the chemical industry and the government. Carson stuck to her guns, however, testifying before Congress in 1963 about the need for new policies to force humans to protect the environment. In retrospect, many people credit Silent Spring with having launched the global environmental movement.

Rachel Carson died of breast cancer in 1964, at the age of 56. In 1980, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her environmental writing and activism.

Sources:
Rachel Carson.org
Wikipedia
Time

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Woman Making History #12: Margaret Bourke-White

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Margaret Bourke-WhiteExciting! Today's Woman Making History is one who is completely new to me!

Margaret Bourke-White was born in 1904 in New York. She developed an interest in photography while attending Columbia University in the early 1920s. After switching schools several times, Bourke-White graduated from Cornell University in 1927. A year later, she moved to Cleveland and took a job as an industrial photographer.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Bourke-White made the switch to magazine photojournalism. She was the first Western photographer allowed into the Soviet Union, and was hired by Life magazine as their first female photojournalist, with one of her pictures featured on the magazine's very first cover. During the mid-1930s, Bourke-White photographed Dust Bowl victims, and she and her husband, novelist Erskine Caldwell, published a book about the Depression, Have You Seen Their Faces.

During World War II, Bourke-White became the first female war correspondent and first female to be allowed to work in a combat zone. When German forces invaded Moscow, she was the only foreign photographer in the city. She then moved on to North Africa, then Italy. In 1945, she traveled through Germany as it collapsed, accompanying the troops of General Patton.

After the war, Bourke-White produced a book of photographs from the Buchenwald concentration camp, Dear Fatherland, Rest Quietly.

Bourke-White had a knack for being in the right place at the right time to photograph events and people of great historical significance. Just two years after photographing the survivors at Buchenwald, she took pictures of the violent independence and partition of India and Pakistan. She also interviewed and took pictures of Gandhi just hours before his assassination.

Unusual for a photographer of her time, Bourke-White became somewhat of a celebrity. She did endorsements for coffee and cigarettes, and the heroine of Hitchcock's "Lifeboat" is said to be modeled after her.

In the 1950s, Margaret Bourke-White was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and forced to first slow and then abandon her career. After fighting the disease for many years, she died in 1971.

Sources:
Wikipedia
NPR
Boston Globe

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1970sOBOS.jpgI have to make my biases known at the outset: this may well be my favorite Woman Making History entry. Of all of the feminist leaders I admire, the Boston Women's Health Collective is very very high on the list.

The Boston Women's Health Collective (originally the Boston Women's Health Book Collective) was formed in 1969, after its founding members met at a women's health seminar and discussed the lack of health resources available to women. The group originally tried to compile a list of doctors in the Boston area who were sensitive to women's health needs and respected their female patients as people. Finding their list far too short, they decided to compile a manual of health advice and self-care instructions for women. A completely volunteer effort, researched and written by the women themselves, the book, the first edition of which was published in 1970 under the name "Women and their Bodies," was originally intended as a companion to a course on women's health. It quickly became an underground sensation, however, selling 250,000 copies in New England with no formal advertising.

The next, expanded version of the book was published in 1973, with the new title "Our Bodies, Ourselves." Since then, the effort has exploded, with a new, updated, and expanded version of "Our Bodies, Ourselves" coming out every few years, and a range of other books as well, including comprehensive manuals about younger women's heath, women's health in older age, and the specific health concerns of Latina women.

2000sOBOS.jpgAs the Boston Women's Health Collective's projects grew, so did the organization, moving from a completely volunteer effort to one with a permanent staff of 11, as well as a volunteer network and an internship program. The Collective is not only responsible for publishing the books, but also for advocacy and consulting in the arena of women's health. The most recent editions of the books have been translated into many languages, and the organization has worked to increase its focus on global women's health issues.

Sources:
Women's E-News
Our Bodies, Ourselves
American Medical Women's Association

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Woman Making History #10: Nellie Bly

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Nellie BlyGiven my general disgust with our present-day media, particularly this close to election time, I'm happy to say that today's history making woman is Nellie Bly.

Nellie Bly was born Elizabeth Jane Cochrane in 1864 in Pennsylvania. As a teenager and young woman, she worked in a boarding house, though she dreamed of being a writer. She was hired to write for the Pittsburgh Dispatch after writing an angry editorial letter denouncing a popular columnist for insisting that women belong only in the home. When she started writing for the Dispatch, she took the pen name Nellie Bly, inspired by a Stephen Foster song.

Bly left the Dispatch after a short tenure, as a result of being relegated to women's and society pages, rather than being allowed to do the investigative journalism she craved. When she was 23, she moved to New York and convinced New York World's managing editor to give her a shot as an investigative reporter by pitching an idea for a story in which she would investigate conditions in mental hospitals by having herself committed. Bly then did have herself committed, spending 10 days on at the mental institution on Blackwell Island. After her return, she wrote a shocking piece chronicling the experience, including beatings, ice baths, and force-fed meals. The shocking piece received a lot of attention, and inspired some reforms of New York's mental institutions.

For the next several years, Bly continued to work as an investigative reporter for The World, and she always sided with the poor and disenfranchised in her pieces. Most notably, when covering the Chicago Pullman Railroad strike of 1894, she was the only reporter to write from the perspective of the striking workers.

In 1889, Bly made her famous trip around the world in 72 days, having challenged the fictional hero of Jules Vernes' "Around the World in 80 Days."

In her 30s, Bly briefly retired, after marrying a man several decades her senior. When he died, however, she picked her career back up, taking over her husband's businesses and moving them to the forefront of industrial and workers' reforms, but eventually going bankrupt. She then worked as a journalist for the New York Evening Journal, and covered World War I from the eastern front in Europe.

Bly died from pneumonia in 1922, at the age of 57.

Sources:
National Women's Hall of Fame
PBS
New York Times

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Woman Making History #9: Elizabeth Blackwell

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Elizabeth BlackwellElizabeth Blackwell is a good example of a history-making woman that I should have known about and didn't. She and those like her are exactly the reason I am doing this exercise.

Elizabeth Blackwell was born in England in 1821, moving to the U.S. in 1832. She was unusually well-educated for a woman of her time, due partially to her progressive father's views on education and partially to the private school she, her mother, and her sisters opened in Cincinnati to support themselves after her father's death.

While working as a teacher, first in her family's school, then in Kentucky and North and South Carolina, Blackwell began to study medicine privately. By 1847, she had made up her mind to go to medical school and began searching for a program that would accept a woman. She was eventually accepted to Geneva Medical School in New York, when the students, thinking the application to be a practical joke, voted to let her in.

After many hardships suffered as the first female medical student in the country, Blackwell graduated at the top of her class in 1849. Shortly thereafter, Blackwell returned to Europe and began studying midwifery in Paris. She suffered an infection that left her blind in one eye at this time, forcing her to abandon plans to become a surgeon.

Upon returning to the U.S. in 1851, Blackwell was not permitted to practice at any hospitals, so she bought a house and opened her own private practice, where she saw women and children. In 1853, she opened a dispensary in New York with her sister, who was newly graduated from medical school, and another female doctor. In 1857, the dispensary was incorporated as the New York Infirmary for Women and Children. During the Civil War, the Blackwell sisters helped select and train Union nurses.

After the war, in 1868, the Blackwells opened the Women's Medical College at the Infirmary. The College operated for 31 years, but Blackwell herself moved to England the next year, where she founded the London School of Medicine for Women with Florence Nightingale. She worked there and at the London School of Medicine for Children until her retirement in 1907.

Elizabeth Blackwell never married. She adopted a child, Kitty, in 1854. She died in 1910.

Sources:
About: Women's History
National Women's Hall of Fame
Wikipedia
National Institute of Health

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Aren't women amazing? So glad I am one!

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Woman Making History #8: Medea Benjamin

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medea.jpgPolitical activist Medea Benjamin was born in 1952. She has two masters degrees, one in Economics from the New School for Social Research and one in Public Health from Columbia University. She is married and has two children.

Benjamin co-founded feminist anti-war organization CODEPINK: Women for Peace, and is involved with other anti-war organizations. She's also a founding member of the NGO Global Exchange, a fair trade organization. In 2000, Benjamin ran for the U.S. Senate in California on the Gree Party ticket. She has since become involved with progressive Democrat organizations.

Benjamin is perhaps best known for her controversial political actions, including interrupting speeches and and political conventions to make anti-war statements. She has also travelled widely, particularly to underdeveloped countries, to document and expose military and human rights abuses and sweat-shop labor conditions.

Benjamin has written or edited eight books, including the award winning Don't Be Afraid, Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Global Exchange
California League of Women Voters

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Woman Making History #7: Amy Goodman

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Amy GoodmanBorn in New York in 1957, Amy Goodman is, thus far, the youngest history making woman the poster lists. And one of the best known currently, due especially to her very popular radio and TV news program (and podcast), Democracy Now! Many current Goodman fans consider her the "voice of the disenfranchised left."

After growing up in a politically progressive family on Long Island, Goodman graduated from Harvard in 1984 with a degree in anthropology. She then spent a decade as an evening news show producer for WBAI, the Pacifica radio station in New York. During her decade as a radio news journalist, Goodman was attacked by Indonesian soldiers while covering the independence movement in East Timor in 1991. Goodman speculated that U.S. support of the Indonesian military was the only reason she and fellow journalist Allan Nairn were not killed. Goodman credits this experience as the pivotal moment in career, the point at which she realized how important it is to "go where the silence is" and get the word out.

In 1996, Goodman co-founded Democracy Now!. She continued to do the type of journalism she was known for, covering, among other things, the role of the Chevron Corporation in the conflict between Nigerian villagers and the Nigerian Army in 1998. This coverage won Goodman a George Polk Award.

In 2000, Democracy Now! split with Pacifica and went independent, broadcasting from an old fire station. This move coincidentally made Goodman the journalist reporting on 9/11 from the geographically closest location to Ground Zero.

First independently and then reunited with Pacifica in 2002, Goodman and Democracy Now! have continued to provide hard-hitting, left-leaning coverage of national and international politics for the last several years, expanding from its radio roots and adding a televised broadcast in 2001. Perhaps Goodman's best known grilling was the one she gave Bill Clinton when he called before the 2000 election to tell listeners why they should support Gore rather than Nader. Rather than giving him free advertising airtime, Goodman grilled Clinton on NAFTA, capital punishment, and sanctions against Iraq.

Goodman is the author of two books, The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them (2004), co-written with her brother, Mother Jones writer David Goodman, and Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People who Fight Back (2006).

Sources:
The Nation
Democracy Now!
Wikipedia
Americans Who Tell the Truth

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I've seen her on Democracy NOW! many times... she's awesome!

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Woman Making History #6: Ella Baker

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Ella BakerElla Baker was born in 1903 in Virginia. She grew up in North Carolina and in 1927 graduated as the class valedictorian from Shaw University. She then moved to New York City and became active in several social justice organizations, including the Young Negroes Cooperative League, which focused on developing black economic power, for whom she became the national director. She also worked for the Works Progress Administration.

In the late 1930s, Baker became involved in the NAACP, first as a field secretary, then as a branch director. Though she left the NAACP staff in 1946, Baker remained an active volunteer, eventually becoming the president of the New York NAACP branch in 1952. During this time, she led the fight for school desegregation in New York City.

In 1957, Baker returned to the South, moving to Atlanta in order to help organize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Though her focus was more grassroots than that of the SCLC, Baker stayed on for two years. She also organized voter registrations for African-Americans during this time period.

After leaving the SCLC, Baker went on to become a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. Significantly older than most SNCC members, Baker served as a "quiet leader" and mentor to the younger activists with whom she worked. She was also a major organizer of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in 1964.

Baker returned to New York in the mid-1960s, where she continued to work as an organizer. She died in 1986. She is perhaps best remembered in Sweet Honey in the Rock's "Ella's Song," which states that "we who believe in freedom cannot rest."

Sources:
SNCC-People
Wikipedia
PBS
In These Times

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Woman Making History #5: Ida B. Wells-Barnett

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Ida B Wells-Barnett cameo pictureIda B. Wells was born in Mississippi in 1862, a few months before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. She was the eldest of eight children, and when her parents died in the late 1870s, she supported and raised her younger siblings. She attended Rust College (later called Shaw University) and became a teacher in Memphis, Tennessee in 1888.

During her time in Memphis, Wells also co-owned and wrote for a black newspaper, "The Free Speech and Headlight," and began to agitate for civil rights for African-Americans, including winning a lawsuit on train desegregation (this decision was later overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court). After an acquaintance was lynched in 1892, she began to write anti-lynching editorials and encourage Black southerners to move west to escape Southern racism. In 1895, after living abroad for a few years, Wells published a history of lynching, "A Red Record." She also started the United States' first civic organization for black women, the Women's Era Club, which was later renamed the Ida B. Wells Club in her honor.

In 1909, Wells-Barnett (she had married in 1895 and subsequently had four children) became a founding member of the "Committee of 40," which later grew into the NAACP. However, she was excluded from the organization due to her radical views by the mid 1910s. She then founded the Negro Fellowship League. She also became active in the suffrage movement, as well as Jane Addams' work against school segregation. She stayed active in the fight for civil rights for African-Americans and women until her death in 1931.

Sources:
Women in History
About: African-American History
National Women's Hall of Fame

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Woman Making History #4: Bernice Johnson Reagon

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Bernice Johnson ReagonThe first entertainer listed on the history-making women poster, as well as the first living woman listed, is the awesome Bernice Johnson Reagon. I know of Reagon in her capacity as the founder of and one of the strongest voices in the amazing African-American a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, but her work with Sweet Honey is only the tip of the iceberg.

Bernice Johnson Reagon was born in 1942 in Albany, Georgia. She entered Albany State College in 1959, but was expelled in 1961 after being arrested while protesting with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She then briefly attended Spelman College, before quitting to join the Freedom Singers civil rights music group. She spent the remainder of the 1960s bearing her two children, daughter Toshi (also an accomplished musician and kick-ass woman) and son Kwan Tauna, and recording and releasing two solo albums. During this time period, she also began her study of traditional African American folk music and story telling.

Johnson Reagon then finished her degree in non-Western history at Spelman College and became involved in black nationalism. During the first years of Sweet Honey in the Rock (formed in 1973), she earned her doctorate in in history at Howard University, becoming Dr. Johnson Reagon.

Over the course of the next three decades, Johnson Reagon was involved in multiple black pride and African American history activities. Her work with Sweet Honey continued, and the group toured, put on festivals, and released many albums (and are continuing to do so today). She started work with the Smithsonian Institutions as a cultural historian in 1974, and in 1983 was promoted to curator at the National Musuem of American History, where she had previously begun the musuem's program in Black American Culture. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she was appointed professor emeritus at American University and won a MacArthur Fellowship.

Johnson Reagon was also involved in many well-known radio, television, and film projects dealing with African-American history and culture, including the Eyes on the Prize series, NPR's Wade in the Water, the television series We Shall Overcome, and the film Beloved.

Now in her 60s, Johnson Reagon has retired from Sweet Honey in the Rock. However, she has continued her work in African-American culture and music in the 2000s, most recently writing music and libretto for the play The Temptation of St. Anthony, playing some concerts with her daughter, Toshi Reagon, and lecturing.

To hear examples of the musical work of Bernice Johnson Reagon and Sweet Honey in the Rock, please go here and here.

Sources:
Bernice Johnson Reagon 2006 Bio Statement
Sweet Honey in the Rock website
PBS African American World

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Woman Making History #3: Septima Clark

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Septima ClarkCivil Rights leader Septima Clark's is the first name on the poster that I don't already know a lot about. I knew Clark was a Civil Rights leader, and had admired the awesome photograph of her shown her, which is also the cover photo of Brian Lanker's book, I Dream a World (which you should check out, if you've never seen it, it's pretty amazing), but that was about it. So I'm happy with this project already for providing me with an opportunity to research fantastic women I don't know enough about.

Septima Clark was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1898. A public school teacher and advocate for adult education, Clark began her Civil Rights work well before the movement took hold in a broad way in the 1950s. She began organizing in the 1920s and was a member of the NAACP from 1919, very soon after the organization's inception. Her early organizing work focused on the fight to allow African Americans to teach in public schools. Later, she branched out into community building, vote registration, and anti-segregation activities. In 1956, she was fired from her job as a public school teacher for being involved with the NAACP. She then became a full-time Civil Rights activist.

In 1961, Clark became the director of education for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Through this work, she became an early proponent of and teacher Citizenship Schools, which taught Black Americans to read, write, understand the basic government structure in order to be informed voters. She worked with SCLC until her retirement in 1970, after which she served two terms on the Charleston County School Board.

Septima Clark died in 1987. Her lifelong commitment to civil rights has earned her the title "grandmother of the civil rights movement."

Sources:
South Carolina African-American History Online
Septima Clark: Teacher to a Movement (unpublished article)
Wikipedia: Septima Poinsette Clark

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Woman Making History #2: Susan B. Anthony

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Susan B. AnthonyThe second history-making woman on my poster is Susan B. Anthony. She's one most folks have heard of, but worth a shout out all the same. A few things about her (because it is late, and I am tired, fewer things than she deserves):

Susan B. Anthony was born in 1820 in Massachutes. She was raised in a strict Quaker family with activist leanings. After spending several years as a teacher, she got very active in the temperance and anti-slavery movements. After experiencing the sexism of the these movements (for example, women were not often allowed to speak at rallies) and befriending another temperance worker, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she became involved in women's suffrage, for which she worked the rest of her life, both alone and partnered with Cady Stanton. It is commonly believed that Cady Stanton was the main theoritican and writer in the partnership, while Anthony focused on traveling, speaking, and organizing.

Some of Anthony's most noted accomplishments include co-founding the American Equal Rights Association and the National Woman Suffrage Association, as well as co-editing The Revolution suffrage paper. In 1873, she was arrested and tried for illegal voting in an action for women's suffrage.

Anthony never married or had children. She died in 1906.

Sources:
The Susan B. Anthony House
About: Women's History
Western New York Suffragists: Winning the Vote

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What a nice project you are doing! I am going back to school to be a history teacher and it's so sad to me that so many women do not know their own history. I am looking forward to your future posts!

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Woman Making History #1: Bella Abzug

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bella.gifThe first name in the upper left-hand corner of the poster is that of the late, great Bella Abzug. And what a good place to start.

Russian-American Bella Abzug was born in 1920 to immigrant parents in New York. She went to law school at Columbia University and was the editor of the Columbia Law Review at a time when few women practiced law. As a private practicing labor attorney in the 1950s, she took on the McCarthy-driven House Un-American Activities Committee. She also married and had two daughters. In the 1960s, she co-founded the Women Strike for Peace organization, which worked against nuclear testing and the Vietnam War.

In 1970, at the age of 50, Abzug became the United States congresswoman representing Manhattan's 19th Congressional District. She was at that time one of 12 women in the Congress and the first Jewish Congresswoman. She served three terms, with a consistently anti-war, pro-woman, and pro-social justice voting record. Some of her most notable positions included calling an end to the draft, demanding the resignation of Richard Nixon, and pushing for the Civil Rights Act to include protections based on sexual orientation.

In 1976, she gave up her seat to run for Senate. She lost her Senate bid (the Senate at that time was 100% male) and also lost later campaigns for New York City mayor.

Abzug spent the remainder of her life working for feminist, environmental, and social justice causes. She chaired President Carter's National Advisory Committee on Women until she was fired for criticizing Carter administration economic policies, had integral roles in the UN International Women's Conferences, and co-founded several organizations, including Women USA and the Women's Environment and Development Organization.

After several years of ill health, Bella Abzug died in 1998 at the age of 77.

Sources:
Jewish Women's Archive
About: Women's History
New York Times
Library of Congress: From Haven to Home

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Well behaved women seldom make history

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well behaved women poster.jpgI recently decided that although the photos and magnets and plants are nice and have improved things greatly, my office also needs something up on the walls. To that end, I got a couple of work-friendly feminist posters to cover some wall space. One is the iconic Rosie the Riveter "We Can Do It!" poster, a second is a poster based on the Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote "Well behaved women seldom make history." As shown here, it's the Syracuse Cultural Workers' version, with a retro woman surrounded by the names of women who have made history.

Looking at the poster, I realized there are a number of names I'm not familiar with, as well as many that I am. Which brought me to the idea of putting up a blurb on my blog about one of the women each day, giving myself the opportunity to do a little research, and giving me lots of fodder for the upcoming NaBloPoMo. There are way more than 30 names on the poster (105, actually), so this project will likely be ongoing for the next few months, and will all be in the "Women Making History" category so I can have a full archive of not-so-well behaved women when I'm finished.

Enjoy!

3 Comments

Where do you get the posters from? It sounds great to have them on the office walls. Very inspiring!

Delighted to find your site today!

Another feisty woman...praise the heavens. We need to reproduce more of our kind.

I'm here in TN, trying to effect change for women.

You might like to visit my site too: www.thenewtnwoman.com

Rosanne

This is such a neat site!
Your posts are very interesting and I'm excited to find the stories of so many feminists I haven't heard of before. I'm a high-schooler in MA and am starting to get pretty involved in social action around Boston, specifically around teen issues right now. So I'm trying to learn more about other people who have been involved in effecting change. Being female, I am especially interested in feminists.
Thanks!

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