Welcome to our feature section on the wonderful Women in History who have impacted lives and nations through their strength, vision, passion, convictions, creativity, beliefs, and words. Please join us as we honor and celebrate these women and the legacy they leave. While you read, ask yourself the question, “What will my legacy be?”
The Women we are currently featuring are:
- Virginia Hall
- Rosie the Riveter
- Clara Barton
- Rosa Parks
- Juliette Lowe
- Harriet Tubman
- Susan B. Anthony
- Georgia O’Keiff
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- Irena Sendler
- Jacqueline Cochran
- Abigail Adams
- Betsy Ross
- Amelia Earhart
- Louisa May Alcott
- Helen Keller
- Martha Washington
- Julia Child
- Barbara McClintock
- Phillis Wheatley
- Clare Boothe Luce
- Babe Didrikson Zaharias
- Mary Fields
- Elizabeth Blackwell
Rosie the Riveter
Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon of the United States, representing the American women who worked in factories during World War II, many of whom produced munitions and war supplies. These women sometimes took entirely new jobs replacing the male workers who were in the military. Rosie the Riveter is commonly used as a symbol of feminism and women’s economic power.
The term “Rosie the Riveter” was first used in 1942 in a song of the same name written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb. The song portrays “Rosie” as a tireless assembly line worker, who is doing her part to help the American war effort.
The individual who was the inspiration for the song was Rosalind P. Walter, who “came from old money and worked on the night shift building the F4U Corsair fighter.” Later in life Walter was a philanthropist, a board member of the WNET public television station in New York and an early and long-time supporter of the Charlie Rose interview show.
After the war, the “Rosies” and the generations that followed them knew that working in the factories was in fact a possibility for women.
-Content from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosie_the_riveter
Clarissa Harlowe “Clara” Barton (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912) was a pioneer American teacher, patent clerk, nurse, and humanitarian. At a time when relatively few women worked outside the home, Barton built a career helping others. One of her greatest accomplishments was founding the American Red Cross. This organization helps victims of war and disasters.
-Content from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Barton
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was an African-American civil rights activist, whom the U.S. Congress called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”. Her birthday, February 4, and the day she was arrested, December 1, have both become Rosa Parks Day, commemorated in the U.S. states of California and Ohio.
On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake’s order that she give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation.
Parks’ act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.
-Content from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosa_parks
Juliette Gordon Low
Juliette Gordon Low or “Daisy” (October 31, 1860 – January 17, 1927) was the founder of Girl Scouts of the USA. In 1912 Low formed a Girl Guide troop in Savannah, Georgia. In 1915, the Girl Guides became Girl Scouts and Low became the first president. She stayed active until the time of her death. Her birthday, October 31, is celebrated by the Girl Scouts as “Founder’s Day”.
By 1916 Girl Scouts had over 7,000 members, and shortly after they were able to pay workers to staff the national office. The girls went swimming and camping, and were encouraged to participate in sports.In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, the Girl Scouts worked on projects to help with the war effort. They sewed clothing for the soldiers, and assisted nurses when people became ill with the flu.
In 1919, the first International council of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts met in London. Low attended, representing the United States.
Low developed breast cancer in 1923, but kept it a secret and continued diligently working for the Girl Scouts. She died on January 17, 1927, at the age of 66. She was buried in her uniform with a note in her pocket stating “You are not only the first Girl Scout, but the best Girl Scout of them all.” In 1979, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Juliette is buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah, GA.
Low’s home in Savannah, Georgia can still be seen today, and is visited by Girl Scouts from all over the world. In 1965, her birthplace was listed as a National Historic Landmark.
-Content from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juliette_Gordon_Low
Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Harriet Ross; 1820 – March 10, 1913) was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made more than nineteen missions to rescue more than 300 slaves using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She later helped John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry, and in the post-war era struggled for women’s suffrage.
In 1849, Tubman, a slave, escaped to Philadelphia, then immediately returned to Maryland to rescue her family. Slowly, one group at a time, she brought relatives out of the state, and eventually guided dozens of other slaves to freedom. Traveling by night, Tubman (or “Moses”, as she was called) “never lost a passenger”. Large rewards were offered for the return of many of the fugitive slaves, but no one then knew that Tubman was the one helping them. When the Southern-dominated Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, requiring law officials in free states to aid efforts to recapture slaves, she helped guide fugitives farther north into Canada, where slavery had been abolished in 1834.
When the American Civil War began, Tubman worked for the Union Army, first as a cook and nurse, and then as an armed scout and spy. The first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the Combahee River Raid, which liberated more than 700 slaves in South Carolina. After the war, she retired to the family home in Auburn, New York, where she cared for her aging parents. She became active in the women’s suffrage movement in New York until illness overtook her. Near the end of her life, she lived in a home for elderly African Americans that she had helped found years earlier.
-Content from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_Tubman
Susan B. Anthony
Susan Brownell Anthony (February 15, 1820 – March 13, 1906) was a prominent American civil rights leader who played a pivotal role in the 19th century women’s rights movement to introduce women’s suffrage into the United States. She was co-founder of the first Women’s Temperance Movement with Elizabeth Cady Stanton as President. She also co-founded the women’s rights journal, The Revolution. She traveled the United States and Europe, and averaged 75 to 100 speeches per year. She was one of the important advocates in leading the way for women’s rights to be acknowledged and instituted in the American government.
-Content from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_B._Anthony
Georgia Totto O’Keeffe (November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986) was an American artist.
Born near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, O’Keeffe first came to the attention of the New York art community in 1916. She made large-format paintings of enlarged blossoms, presenting them close up as if seen through a magnifying lens, and New York buildings, most of which date from the same decade.
Beginning in 1929, when she began working part of the year in Northern New Mexico—which she made her permanent home in 1949—O’Keeffe depicted subjects specific to that area.
O’Keeffe has been recognized as the Mother of American Modernism.
-Content from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_O%27Keeffe
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (October 11, 1884 — November 7, 1962) was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, holding the post from 1933 to 1945 during her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s four terms in office. President Harry S. Truman later nicknamed her the “First Lady of the World” in tribute to her human rights achievements.
Read more about this woman here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_Roosevelt
-Content from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_Roosevelt
During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive.
Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids. Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.
During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants. Ultimately, she was caught, however, and the Nazi’s broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely.
Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out, in a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to reunite the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.
In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not selected.
Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming.
Later another politician, Barack Obama, won for his work as a community organizer for ACORN.
In MEMORIAM – 65 YEARS LATER
It is now more than 65 years since the Second World War in Europe ended. In memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated!
(May 11, 1906 – August 9, 1980) was a pioneer in the field of American aviation, considered to be one of the most gifted racing pilots of her generation. She was an important contributor to the formation of the wartime Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) and Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP).
Known by her friends as “Jackie”, and maintaining the Cochran name, she flew in the MacRobertson Air Race in 1934. In 1937, she was the only woman to compete in the Bendix race and worked with Amelia Earhart to open the race to women. That year, she also set a new woman’s national speed record. By 1938, she was considered the best female pilot in the United States. She had won the Bendix and set a new transcontinental speed record as well as altitude records.Cochran was the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic. She won five Harmon Trophies as the outstanding woman pilot in the world. Sometimes called the “Speed Queen”, at the time of her death, no other pilot held more speed, distance or altitude records in aviation history than Cochran.
Before the United States joined World War II, Cochran was part of “Wings for Britain”, an organization that ferried American built aircraft to Britain, becoming the first woman to fly a bomber (a Lockheed Hudson V) across the Atlantic. In Britain, she volunteered her services to the Royal Air Force. For several months she worked for the British Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), recruiting qualified women pilots in the United States and taking them to England where they joined the ATA.
In September 1940, Cochran wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt to introduce the proposal of starting a women’s flying division in the Army Air Forces. She felt that qualified women pilots could do all of the domestic, noncombat aviation jobs necessary in order to release more male pilots for combat.
At war’s end, Cochran was hired by a magazine to report on global postwar events. In 1948, Cochran joined the U.S. Air Force Reserve where she eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
An annual air show called the Jacqueline Cochran Air Show is named in her honor and takes place at the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport. Cochran also became the first woman to be honored with a permanent display of her achievements at the United States Air Force Academy.
Abigail Adams (November 22 1744 – October 28, 1818) was the wife of John Adams, the first Vice President, and second President, of the United States, and the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States. She was the first Second Lady of the United States and second First Lady of the United States.
Adams’s life is one of the most documented of the first ladies: she is remembered for the many letters she wrote to her husband while he stayed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the Continental Congresses. John frequently sought the advice of Abigail on many matters, and their letters are filled with intellectual discussions on government and politics. The letters serve as eyewitness accounts of the American Revolutionary War home front.
When John was elected President of the United States, Abigail continued a formal pattern of entertaining. With the removal of the capital to Washington in 1800, she became the first First Lady to preside over the White House, or President’s House as it was then known. The city was wilderness, the President’s House far from completion. She found the unfinished mansion in Washington “habitable” and the location “beautiful”; but she complained that, despite the thick woods nearby, she could find no one willing to chop and haul firewood for the First Family. Adams’ health, never robust, suffered in Washington. She took an active role in politics and policy, unlike the quiet presence of Martha Washington. She was so politically active, her political opponents came to refer to her as “Mrs. President”.
-Content from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abigail_Adams
Betsy Ross (January 1, 1752 – January 30, 1836), born Elizabeth Griscom and also known by her second and third married names Elizabeth Ashburn and Elizabeth Claypoole, is widely credited with making the first American flag.
Betsy Ross was born to Samuel Griscom and Rebecca James Griscom in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 1, 1752, the eighth of seventeen children. She grew up in a household where the plain dress and strict discipline of the Society of Friends dominated her life. She learned to sew from her great-aunt Sarah Elizabeth Ann Griscom.
After she finished her schooling at a Quaker public school, her father apprenticed her to an upholsterer named William Webster. At this job, she fell in love with fellow apprentice John Ross, who was the son of Aeneas Ross (and Sarah Leach), an assistant rector at (Episcopal) Christ Church. The couple eloped in 1773 when she was 21 at Hugg’s Tavern in Gloucester City, New Jersey.The marriage caused a split from her family and meant her expulsion from the Quaker congregation. The young couple soon started their own upholstery business and joined Christ Church, where their fellow congregants included George Washington and his family.
Research conducted by the National Museum of American History notes that the story of Betsy Ross making the first American flag for General George Washington entered into American consciousness about the time of the 1876 centennial celebrations. In 1870 Ross’s grandson, William J. Canby, presented a paper to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in which he claimed that his grandmother had “made with her hands the first flag” of the United States.
-Content from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betsy_ross
Amelia Mary Earhart (July 24, 1897 – disappeared July 2, 1937) was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first aviatrix (female pilot) to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross for this record. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. Earhart joined the faculty of the Purdue University aviation department in 1935 as a visiting faculty member to counsel women on careers and help inspire others with her love for aviation. She was also a member of the National Woman’s Party, and an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.
During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937 in a Purdue-funded Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island. Fascination with her life, career and disappearance continues to this day.
-Content from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Earhart
Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888) was an American novelist best known as author of the novel Little Women and its sequels Little Men and Jo’s Boys. Raised by her transcendentalist parents, Abigail May and Amos Bronson Alcott in New England, she grew up among many of the well-known intellectuals of the day such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. Nevertheless, her family suffered severe financial difficulties and Alcott worked to help support the family from an early age. She began to receive critical success for her writing in the 1860s. Early in her career, she sometimes used the pen name A. M. Barnard.
Published in 1868, Little Women is set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts and is loosely based on Alcott’s childhood experiences with her three sisters. The novel was very well received and is still a popular children’s novel today. Alcott was an abolitionist and a feminist. She died in Boston.
-Content from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisa_May_Alcott
Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. The story of how Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become widely known through the dramatic depictions of the play and film The Miracle Worker. Her birthday on June 27 is commemorated as Helen Keller Day in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania and was authorized at the federal level by presidential proclamation by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, her 100th birthday.
A prolific author, Keller was well-travelled and outspoken in her convictions. A member of the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World, she campaigned for women’s suffrage, labor rights, socialism, and other radical left causes. She was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1971.
-Content from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Keller
Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (June 2, 1731 – May 22, 1802) was the wife of George Washington, the first president of the United States. Although the title was not coined until after her death, Martha Washington is considered to be the first First Lady of the United States. During her lifetime she was known as “Lady Washington.”
Martha Dandridge Custis, age 27, and George Washington, age nearly 27, married on January 6, 1759, at the White House plantation.
Content to live a private life at Mount Vernon and her homes from the Custis estate, Martha Washington followed Washington to his winter encampments for each of eight years. She helped keep up morale among the officers.
After the war, she opposed his agreeing to be President of the newly formed United States of America, and refused to attend his inauguration (April 30, 1789). Once he came to office, as the First Lady, Mrs. Washington hosted many affairs of state at New York and Philadelphia during their years as temporary capitals. (The capital was moved to Washington D. C. in 1800 under the Adams administration, following construction of the Capitol and White House).
-Content from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martha_Washington
Popular TV chef and author Julia Child was born on August 15, 1912, in Pasadena, California. In 1948, she moved to France where she developed a penchant for French cuisine. With a goal of adapting sophisticated French cuisine for mainstream Americans, she collaborated on a two-volume cookbook called Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which was considered groundbreaking, and has since become a standard guide for the culinary community. She also become a television icon with her popular cooking shows such as The French Chef.
Julia remained a go-to reference for cooking advice. In 1993, she was rewarded for her work when she became the first woman inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame. In November 2000, following a 40-year career that has made her name synonymous with fine food and a permanent among the world’s most famous chefs, Julia received France’s highest honor: the Legion d’Honneur. And in August 2002, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History unveiled an exhibit featuring the kitchen, where she filmed three of her popular cooking shows.
August 15, 2012 marks what would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday. In celebration of Child’s centennial, restaurants nationwide took part in a Julia Child Restaurant Week, featuring Child’s recipes on their menus.
Scientist Barbara McClintock received her Ph.D. from Cornell University in Botany. She specialized in cytogenetics, particularly the study of chromosomes in corn. She discovered the role of “controlling elements” in genetic regulation and transposition. Her work was considered too radical (or simply ignored) until it was replicated in the late 1960s. McClintock received the Nobel Prize in 1983.
Born in Senegal about 1753, poet Phillis Wheatley was brought to Boston, Massachusetts, on a slave ship in 1761, and was purchased by John Wheatley as a personal servant to his wife. The Wheatleys educated Phillis, and she soon mastered Latin and Greek, and began writing poetry.
Wheatley wrote her first published poem at age 12. The work, a story about two men who nearly drown at sea, was printed in theNewport Mercury. Other published poems followed, with several also being published, further increasing Wheatley’s fame.
In 1773, Wheatley gained considerable stature when her first and only book of poems, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, was published. Susanna Wheatley helped finance its publication. As proof of her authorship, the volume included a preface in which 17 Boston men claimed that she had indeed written the poems in it.
Poems on Various Subjects is a landmark achievement in American history. In publishing it, Wheatley became the first African American and first U.S. slave to publish a book of poems, as well as the third American woman to do so.
-Content from http://www.biography.com/people/phillis-wheatley-9528784
Clare Boothe Luce
After publishing her sketches satirizing New York Society, Clare Boothe Luce married the publisher of Time magazine in 1935 . From 1939 to 1940, she worked as a war correspondent. She served as a member of the House of Representatives and ambassador to Italy, was a public supporter of Barry Goldwater, and served on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in the 1970s and 1980s.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias
Mildred Didrikson Zaharias was born June 26, 1911, and earned her nickname “Babe” by hitting five homeruns in one childhood baseball game. At the 1932 Olympics, she won medals in the hurdles, javelin throw and high jump. By the 1940s, she was the greatest woman golfer of all time. The Associated Press declared Babe Zaharias to be the “Woman Athlete of the Half Century” in 1950.
At the age of 15, Babe was the high-scoring forward on the girls’ basketball team at Beaumont Senior High School. She attracted the attention of Melvin J. McCombs, coach of one of the best girls’ basketball teams in the nation.
Didrikson soon turned her attention to track and field. At the National Women’s AAU Track Meet in 1931, she won first place in eight events and was second in a ninth. In 1932, with much more interest in the meet because of the approaching Olympics, she captured the championship, scoring 30 points; the Illinois Women’s Athletic Club, which entered a team of 22 women, placed second with 22 points. Babe then went to the Olympics.
Women were allowed to enter only three events, but she broke four world records; she won the javelin throw, with 143 feet, 4 inches, and won the 80-meter hurdles, twice breaking the previous world record (her best time was 11.7 seconds). She made a world record high jump, but the jump was disallowed and she was awarded second place.
Didrikson began playing golf in 1931 or 1932. In 1947, Zaharias became the first American woman to win the British Ladies’ Amateur Championship, at Gullane, Scotland. Zaharias was the greatest woman golfer of all time, the winner of seventeen successive golf tournaments in 1946-1947, and of 82 tournaments between 1933 and 1953. The Associated Press voted her “Woman of the Year” in 1936, 1945, 1947, 1950, and 1954. In 1950 the AP acclaimed her the “Woman Athlete of the Half Century.”