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Women of Note

Another Woman on the Supreme Court May Position More Women to Enter Politics and Government

Nichola Gutgold writes: It is unusual for male power figures to refer to their role model status, because men and boys do not need proof that powerful positions are open to them. The reality is that politics and the Supreme Court remain overwhelmingly male enterprises.


Elena Kagan on the Status of Women in the Law

Elena Kagan, the nominee proposed to fill an expected US Supreme Court vacancy, delivered the Leslie H. Arps Memorial Lecture at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York on Nov. 17, 2005. What follows is a section from that talk, given when Ms. Kagan was Dean of the Harvard Law School:

Let's start with the good news: by the turn of the twenty-first century, women accounted for almost one-third of the nation's lawyers and a majority of the nation's law students. In just over a decade, the number of women law partners, general counsels, and federal judges doubled. At Harvard, women now make up almost half of the JD student body - quite a contrast to the first class of thirteen women that graduated in 1953. Two years ago, we celebrated fifty years of women at Harvard Law School. That event drew close to 1,300 people, making it the largest alumni gathering in the Law School's history.

Such a celebration has special meaning in light of the huge obstacles faced by past generations of women — obstacles that now might seem laughable if they hadn't been so destructive. In a recent address, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recalled several inglorious cases from the world of law schools. There was Columbia's denial of admission to several women in 1890, when one board member reportedly said: "No woman shall degrade herself by practicing law in New York especially if I can save her. . . . " Or consider a 1911 student resolution, widely supported — though ultimately defeated — at the University of Pennsylvania Law School: a resolution that would have introduced a twenty-five cents per week penalty on students without mustaches. Or the words of Harvard University's president, when asked how the Law School was faring during World War II. His reported response: That it wasn't as bad as he'd expected — "We have 75 students, and we haven't had to admit any women."

Thankfully such attitudes have pretty much vanished from our legal landscape; they are to be heard from only the most lunatic fringe. But despite the enormous progress made - and we don't want to lose sight of the advances — it's also true that women lawyers still lag far behind men on most measures of success. Now, as I said before, this is an issue for all of us. And since I'm the dean of a law school, that's where I'll start.

Last year, a working group of Harvard Law students issued a study on women's experiences. What they discovered closely tracked findings from other top schools that have studied these questions: While women and men arrive at law school with basically the same credentials, there's a real difference in how they experience their three years of legal study.

Most troubling are disparities in the academic arena in major law schools. Women law students are less likely to speak up in class. They graduate with fewer honors. And when asked to assess their own abilities, they give themselves far lower marks than men do on a range of legal skills. Here's an interesting statistic: according to the Harvard student survey, 33% of men considered themselves in the top 20% of their class in legal reasoning while only 15% of women did. Women also gave themselves lower marks in their ability to "think quickly on their feet, argue orally, write briefs, and persuade others." Reading this list, I had to shake my head: What exactly is left? Studies at other schools have found very similar trends. In the disturbing words of one female law student from the University of Pennsylvania: "Guys think law school is hard, and we just think we're stupid."

Read more »

Book Review

Too Much Information?
The Rhetoric of Women Wronged:
When Political Spouses Tell Their Stories

Nichola Gutgold writes: Resilience is not what I expected, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. When I teach communication at Penn State, I tell my students that the “rhetorical situation” is any set of circumstances that invites an utterance or writing that aims to influence others. I'm influenced, indeed, by Elizabeth Edwards.

Edit Edit... Relationships and Going PlacesWomen of NoteSenior Women WebBook ReviewsAuthorsNichola Gutgold

Woman of Note, Heroism Award Recipient: Lynne Tracy, Consular Officer in Peshawar, Pakistan

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presented a Department of State's Award for Heroism to Lynne Tracy:

"Since 2006, Principal Officer Lynne Tracy has led our Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan while a growing insurgency in the border regions degraded the country’s security situation. With her knowledge of the politics, personalities, and dynamics of Pakistan’s frontier region, she helped explain the insurgency to policymakers in Washington and helped explain Washington to the people of Pakistan."

"And she relied on her experience serving in Astana, Kabul, Bishkek to triple the size of the mission in Peshawar, enabling her to better partner with the Pakistani Government as she worked with local leaders to confront terrorist activity in tribal areas."

"On August 26th, 2008, Lynne became the target of violent extremists attempting to undermine progress and sow instability. As Lynne was being driven to work, gunmen launched an attack on her, shooting out her car’s two front tires and leaving the vehicle riddled with bullets. Thanks to her driver and her bodyguard’s quick thinking, Lynne escaped. She returned to post later that day, believing it was important to inform the staff about what had happened, what it meant for the mission, and to think through their next steps as a community. "

"In the aftermath of the attack, the threat of another attempt on Lynne’s life and on others at post loomed large. As a precaution, some Consulate officials were required to stay home, and others were relocated to Islamabad."

"But Lynne did neither. Determined and unflappable, she stayed in Peshawar to look after the remaining Consulate staff. In the following days, she visited the staff, asking how they were faring while being honest about the dangers they faced. She worked tirelessly with senior leadership at Embassy Islamabad to improve security measures for all of the Consulate’s employees. Her decision to stay and lead not only boosted morale, but inspired an even greater focus on strengthening the bonds of collaboration with the people of Pakistan to promote peace, stability, and security throughout the region."

"Her leadership was also felt beyond the diplomatic community. For the next year, Lynne continued serving as a public face of our mission in Pakistan, hosting several iftaars for members of the Pakistani community just weeks after the attack, even hosting some of the Consulate’s official visitors in her home when it was too dangerous for them to stay in hotels. By working with the local population – even as the militants’ presence grew stronger and the threats on the Consulate became more frequent – Lynne helped strengthen the Pakistani people’s trust and confidence in the United States and in our efforts to help bring stability to that country."

During Women's History Month in 2007, Ms. Tracy delivered a talk,  A History of Women in the U.S. Foreign Service,  delivered at Peshawar University’s Lincoln Corner.

"American women have made great strides in many fields over the past century, including diplomacy,” stated Ms. Tracy. “Just thirty-seven years ago, American women had to resign from the Foreign Service in order to get married. Today, Secretaries Albright and Rice have proven that women can serve effectively as America’s top diplomats."

Part of Ms. Tracy's remarks:

"When I wrote my report of the attack that took place on August 26th, 2008, my final and perhaps most important comments were on the value of training. I am certain that I survived that day because of the training that Diplomatic Security provides. It’s all about getting off the X and thinking ahead about what you’re going to do in a situation like that. "

"Finally, and in many respects, most importantly, I want to acknowledge and express my deep appreciation to our Pakistani colleagues, hosts, and friends. My brave Pakistan driver was the real hero of the day of the attack, and every day after that, along with my Pakistani bodyguards who made sure that I was able to continue doing my job, we have an incredibly brave, loyal, and talented local staff at the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar."

Woman of Note: Sheila Bair, head of the FDIC

Acceptance Speech for the 2009 Profile in Courage Award by Sheila Bair at the Kennedy Library and YouTube video of her most recent statements:

Text Block and caption for picture of Ms. Bair

"Caroline Kennedy presents the Profile in Courage Award to Shelia Bair. Bair has been called a 'lone voice in the wilderness' for her early warnings about the sub-prime lending crisis and for her dogged criticism of both Wall Street’s and the government’s management of the subsequent financial meltdown. As early as 2001, Bair was urging sub-prime lenders to agree on a set of best practices to prevent abuses. Since the onset of the current crisis, she, more than any other government official, has pushed for direct assistance to distressed homeowners as part of the overall effort to stabilize the financial system, a move fiercely resisted by many leaders in both the public and the private sectors."

There are a lot of great and courageous people who have won the JFK "lantern." I'm proud to be among them. I'm particularly pleased to be joining two other female awardees who stood up when some of their male counterparts stayed on the sidelines.

Not many people are aware that early in my career, I ran for Congress. I had been working in Washington just out of law school, first as a civil rights lawyer at the Health, Education, and Welfare Department, and later for Kansas Senator Bob Dole. Senator Dole gave me and the many other women on his staff, a chance to participate in national policy debates and politics, which at that time were still largely a man's world. I was really pumped. And I wanted to do more. So I ran for Congress.

I was up against a front runner who was a prominent and well-financed banker (some irony perhaps in that). I campaigned hard against him. And it turned out to be a very close race. The margin was a narrow 760 votes. But it didn't turn out how I'd planned. I lost. I couldn't believe it. Senator Dole told me the reason I lost was because I was a woman, and I was unmarried. And that made me all the more determined to take on new challenges. This country has come a long way since then, hasn't it?!

When it comes to courage, I don't think it's something you choose. It chooses you. One thing that happens when you get caught up in an economic crisis of this magnitude is that the press starts doing profiles on you. The lead-in to a profile that National Public Radio did on me last fall went like this: "It's only in times of crisis that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation sees the spotlight. And right now, the agency's Chairwoman Sheila Bair is practically famous."

That's what I mean that courage chooses you. It's all about the cards you're dealt, and where you're sitting at the time. And the question is whether you stand up or not, whether you try to do the right thing, to right a wrong or to a fix problem when you see one.

Read more »

Book Review

Jo Freeman reviews Women Making America, covering women’s history from the Revolution to the present day. Chock full of colorful images, it swoops high and low, sometimes mapping the forest and sometimes looking at a tree

Women Behind the Wheel

From the Smithsonian's Exhibit, American On the Move; Crossing the Country, Other Early Trips

"In 1909, Alice Huyler Ramsey, of Hackensack, New Jersey, became the first woman to drive across the United States. Challenged by a sales manager for Maxwell automobiles, she drove a Maxwell touring car from New York to San Francisco in 59 days. Like Jackson, Ramsey and her three female passengers packed a block and tackle and used it often in the muddy Midwest. Between 1909 and 1975, Ramsey drove across the country more than 30 times."

"Western roads were still unimproved in 1909 when Alice Huyler Ramsey drove across the country. She extracted the Maxwell from washouts and mudholes with block and tackle, a jack, even fence rails under the wheels. Occasionally horses and cars gave her a tow."

Driving for Voting Rights: "At a time when few women owned or drove cars, taking the wheel was a powerful symbolic act. In 1916, suffragists Nell Richardson and Alice Burke, with their cat Saxon, drove across and around the country to drum up support for voting rights for women. Their yellow Saxon automobile, nicknamed the 'Golden Flier', became a moving symbol of women’s rights and a podium for speeches in many towns and cities. Sponsored by the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the trip began and ended in New York City. It took five months, and covered more than 10,000 miles."

"As Burke and Richardson drove around the country, overcoming the challenges of rough roads and mechanical breakdowns, they showed that women could be at home in the 'masculine' domain of machines."

Dee Caffari, Record Breaking Solo Sailor

From Dee Caffari's site:

"Dee’s passion for sailing and ambition to succeed is the constant driver in her life and now she faced her greatest challenge to date when she joined the start line of the Vendee Globe in November 2008. Dee competed in what is widely regarded as the pinnacle of offshore sailing and set off from France in November 2008 amongst a 30 strong fleet of experienced and talented skippers. After 99 days at sea, Dee crossed the finish line at 13:12.57hrs GMT on 16 February 2009 in 6th place and once again, sailed into the the record books. Dee has now secured a double world record and become the first female to sail solo, non-stop around the world in both directions. "

An entry from Tuesday, November 11, 2008 will set the tone of her adventures aboard the Aviva:

Monday the conditions strengthened and the wind blew. I stopped looking at the instruments when I saw 48 knots, with the waves creating walls of water it was very uncomfortable. The most stressful part was the poor visibility. I had container ships on my radar and my AIS and yet would lose sight of then behind waves or in a rain squall. I had some difficulty with a ship and resulted in me crash tacking and as I was trying to sort myself out I saw Generali sail by. It was sad to lose places but I had enough on my hands. I was very lucky, when I managed to get on top of things, there is now a broken batten in my staysail and everything else is okay and I am pleased to say my storm staysail looked very nice, while it was up.

An entry from the 29th of that month is not reflective of smooth sailing:

Last night at about 3am in the dark a loud bang was heard amongst the carbon groans and crashes into walls of water and rig jarring shakes that I was getting used to. I shone my torch around the deck and saw that the staysail was at a strange angle and thought the tack line had blown. A simple repair, but a pain of a job. Unfortunately as I bore away to reduce the load on the staysail I saw what had really happened. The tack fitting had blown and as the line was released it ripped the spinlock jammer clean off the deck. Now I knew I had some issues. The conditions at the time, once I had cleared the sail away and seen the extent of the damage, meant that I spent the next four hours of darkness under mainsail alone as the conditions were not conducive to anything else and I was cream crackered.

And from the 17th of December:

A steady 40 to 50 knots with gusts to 58 knots and the biggest scare factor was the mountainous seas that came with it all. The wind was going to come right forward and see us reaching, yet the huge waves were there to break boats if I tried to sail across them ... The speeds were incredible, again mainly due to the waves but according to the grib file these winds were not just a front but the backside of the depression and would last around ten to twelve hours. I couldn't take that punishment for that long and I am certain that Aviva didn't want it either, so off I went for the surf of my life on the foredeck to change the staysail for the storm staysail.

Read Dee's diary of her competition at her site, month by month (the race started in November, 2008)

Helen Suzman

The death of Helen Suzman reminds the international public of her singular accomplishments and immense courage. From her Foundation's pages:

"From 1961 until 1974, when she was joined by five other Progressives, she was the only MP who consistently and unequivocally opposed discriminatory legislation and the spate of security laws that left the rule of law in tatters. In a patriarchal society like South Africa, discrimination against women was also rife. For many years the quest for equal status was one of Helen's main concerns, and she achieved considerable success."

"Her workload during her solitary 13 years was prodigious. She grabbed every opportunity to speak, to put parliamentary questions, and to intercede with ministers on behalf of the many hapless individuals and communities who were caught up in the merciless bureaucratic toils of apartheid. In a typical parliamentary session she spoke on average in 15 ministerial votes (in which the performance of a minister and his department was debated), participated in numerous debates on bills, and asked some 200 parliamentary questions — which elicited valuable information that she put to good use in her speeches inside and outside Parliament. In a famous exchange a certain minister shouted: 'You put these questions just to embarrass South Africa overseas.' To which Helen coolly replied: 'It is not my questions that embarrass South Africa — it is your answers.' "

"She has also twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2002 she was awarded the International Freedom Prize by Liberal International. A perverse “honour”, of which she is inordinately proud, was being declared an “Enemy of the State” by Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe in 2001. In 1989 she was made a Dame of the British Empire — a rare honour for a foreigner."

NPR has available an 1993 broadcast of her remarks concerning her autobiography, In No Uncertain Terms.

Mary Schapiro

Nominated to be the next head of the SEC in the Obama Administration, we thought the more offbeat approach to her background might be in order. We went to the quote page:

“It is certainly a crime with a victim when people who have the right to expect that they are doing business with honorable and reputable people who will be duly licensed find out that they are not.”

“Some of the pitches are appalling”

“Oppenheimer's failure to fully and accurately report municipal bond transactions deprived the investing public and market participants of critical information.”

And this from the Center for Creative Leadership: "I've gone from position to position and they've all been wonderful steps ahead for me," Schapiro says. She had never before taken a leadership or management course. "I had always assumed you were either a natural-born leader or you weren't. And if you weren't, too bad, that's your lot in life."

Elizabeth Warren

Named as the head of the Congressional Panel established to oversee the $700 billion fund (Troubled Asset Relief Program, now referred to as TARP), assigned to help distribute monies authorized to aid the economy, Elizabeth Warren is the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard's Business School.

Perhaps what strikes the reader first are Ms. Warren's research Interests, especially the last:

  • Empirical and Policy Work in Bankruptcy and Commercial Law
  • Financially Distressed Companies
  • Women, the Elderly, and the Working Poor in Bankruptcy

She is the co-author of The Two Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers & Father Are Going Broke (written with Amelia Warren Tyagi), published in 2003. One paragraph in the introduction makes clear the understanding she possesses about the subject:

"As Ruth Ann and Jim learned, the dance of financial ruin starts slowly but picks up speed quickly, exhausting the dancers before it ends. Few families have substantial savings, so they usually run out of cash in a month or so. Soon the charges start mounting up for the basics of family life — food, gasoline and whatever else can go on ;the card.' When there still isn't enough to go around, the game of impossible choices begins."

The full text of the book is available online. What follows is part of a conversation Elizabeth Warren had at UC Berkeley in March, 2007 and conducted by Harry Kreisler :


Professor Warren, welcome to Berkeley.

Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.

Where were you born and raised?

Born and raised in Oklahoma.

Looking back, how do you think your parents shaped your thinking about the world?

Ah. Well, my parents were from Depression-era, dust-bowl Oklahoma, and that shapes your life growing up. I was the last of four children, I have three much older brothers, and by the time I came along I was really kind of the second family for them. They hadn't recovered from the Depression and I guess in many ways they never did. They talked about it, those were the stories that permeated my childhood, what it was like to have seven years of drought, what it was like when nobody had any money, what it was like when all your neighbors left to go to California or someplace where they thought there might be jobs. My parents hung on, they stayed, my father worked a series of different jobs. He was a maintenance man in an apartment house — it was his last job — but they always saw themselves as middle-class people. They always saw themselves as people who — for them the distinction was, they used good English and they didn't say "ain't." Those were important indicia of middle-classness of my folks. They believed in education and were very proud of this little daughter they had.

Around the dinner table was there a discussion of politics, of law, or did that all come to you later?

Oh, no. Not around the dinner table. Mostly around the dinner table it was discussion of cars, or rodeos and dogs and cows and horses, and a little discussion of worry about others in the family. There was always a big sense in my family of — we all tried to look out for each other, but nobody in the family really had much of anything.

A theme that you pursue in these books that we're going to talk about is what's happening to the family. From what you're saying now I get the sense that the family was very important as a last resort for survival in the context of these very harsh times.

Yes, that's exactly right. People who didn't have family or people who broken from their family, they were the true poor, they were the ones with nothing. As long as you had family, you had people who would make sure that you got fed one way or another. Family was about canning peaches, and canning peaches was about making sure that there'd at least be something come next November, when it was cold outside and there were no more crops coming in. Family is the heart of what it's about.

Read the rest of the interview at the Berkeley site.

Awards in Courage

The organization, International Women's Media Foundation, has awarded the 2008 Courage in Journalism awards: Farida Nekzad, Afghanistan; Sevgul Uludag, Cyprus; and Aye Aye Win, Myanmar. An additional award for lifetime achievement was given to Edith Lederer of the US for her four decades of reporting for the Associated Press.

Peggy Simpson, a free-lance writer based in Washington profiled two of the recipients:

"[Sevgul] Uludag, 49, winner of a 2008 Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women in Media Foundation, says she builds 'bridges of hope and understanding' between Turkish and Greek Cypriots. She encourages them to share what they know about the past, to shatter the shell of silence that keeps secret the fate of people still labeled 'missing' due to political pressure. In many cases, this information leads to locating individual burial sites; in some cases, it helps locate mass graves."

"Uludag’s first stories about the missing were published in 2002, in Yeniduzen and Alithia newspapers, based on accounts of the first five people who had agreed to talk to her. This enraged the Turkish Cypriot government.
“Politicians were upset with me. They went on radio and TV and criticized me for opening old wounds. I got a lot of death threats from the killers who didn’t want the graves to be opened …They feared there might be some prosecutions against them.' In April 2003, the daily newspaper Volkan, the mouthpiece of the Turkish nationalist movement, called upon gangs of goons to silence her – 'to cut out her tongue.' ”

"[Farida] Nekzad is thrilled to receive the IWMF Courage in Journalism Award. She isn’t sure she should be called courageous, but admits she persists in 'working under duress' in increasingly hazardous conditions. She also said that other Afghan women share her gratitude for the award. 'The Afghan people, especially the women, become hopeful that at least some people [in international organizations] understand our work and how we are under threat … and know how hard we are working in a very bad situation.' ”

"Still, she can’t ignore Afghanistan’s worsening security situation and what it means for her future. She relishes her management and leadership roles. In addition to her day job, she is burnishing those skills by taking business administration courses from Miriam University. But she can’t ignore the barriers that may loom ahead. 'I see two options. One is very bright, one very dark. The bright one means more progress, more promotion and more power. But the dark one means no security and maybe restrictions on my work and my mentality and I am afraid this will influence my own professional life.' ”

Lindsey Wray writes about Win and Lederer:

"One of the only women journalists in Myanmar, [Aye Aye] Win, 54, works under the repressive military junta in her country. Her movements are closely monitored by authorities; her house is periodically stalked out by plainclothes police or military intelligence agents, and her telephone is often tapped. Win has been called 'the axe-handle of the foreign press' by other media outlets in Myanmar because she has helped open the door for foreign journalists to report on the country."

"Because she stands out among her male colleagues, Win has disguised herself on assignments by changing her hairstyle and wearing unisex outfits. Still, she risks her own safety to report. For example, when pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was travelling around the country, almost no journalists dared to follow. But Win did — until she was physically barred from continuing. When dissidents and members of Suu Kyi’s party were arrested, Win went to their family members who were watched by secret police to seek verification and details of the arrests. These activities put her high on the 'watch list' of the authorities."

"Win also put herself in great danger to report the news when she covered violent demonstrations against the military government in Rangoon in the fall of 2007. She did not do this from the relative safety of her home or even a hotel room overlooking the protest sites as many journalists did; instead, she walked the streets while soldiers were firing at marchers and beating up innocent bystanders."

Career of Lifetime Winner Edith Lederer Spans Globe

"Shortly after [Edith Lederer] left Vietnam in 1973, Lederer went to Israel during the Yom Kippur War. In 1974, she was assigned to Mexico City, and the following year she was named bureau chief in Peru, becoming the first woman to head a foreign bureau for the AP."

"Lederer later moved to a post as chief of Caribbean services based in Puerto Rico. In 1978, she transferred to Hong Kong to help cover China’s move toward a Western-style economy. She also made a rare visit to North Korea and went to Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion in December 1979, masquerading as a rug buyer. 'They didn’t really expect women to be reporters,' she said, explaining her disguise."

"At one point in 1980, however, it didn’t matter who she was pretending to be. On her way to a wildlife preserve in Afghanistan during a break from work, military officials at a checkpoint demanded her passport, holding a gun to Lederer’s head until a supervisor was called."

" “That was a pretty harrowing hour,' she recalled, noting that she call still picture the official’s face."

Three Generations of Women Anthropologists

The Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology at Harvard contains the online exhibit of three women anthropologists: Alice Fletcher, Harriet Cosgrove and Cora Du Bois

"Fletcher began her research in the Great Plains in 1881. During the next four decades she observed, analyzed, and published accounts of the rituals, music, dance, and social life of the Omaha, Sioux, Pawnee, and Nez Perce. She collected artifacts for the Peabody Museum, where she held an endowed fellowship from 1890-1923, and worked as a government agent allotting reservation land to individual Indians."

Harriet Cosgrove: "The work at Swarts established the Cosgroves among the elite of Southwestern archaeologists and reinforced their identity as a team. The work at Swarts was prodigious. Burton photographed the site. Harriet made pen and ink drawings of every bowl excavated and recorded every find in a series of field notes maintained for each season. The thoroughness of the field notes is astounding. Harriet described every room, its location, dimensions, and soil type. She recorded every artifact and described every burial. Published in 1932, the final report is still the primary reference for Mimbres scholars."

"Cora Du Bois (1903-1991) was the first woman tenured in the Anthropology Department and the second woman ever be tenured in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. She held the Zemurray-Stone Chair from 1954 to 1970, taught in the departments of Anthropology and Social Relations, and conducted research in California, Netherlands East Indies, and India. As a cultural anthropologist she made important contributions to culture and personality studies, the use of photography in analyzing field data, and interdisciplinary team research."

Explore, too, the exhibit, Children of Changing Woman:

"I know that your heart has always been connected to our people, the Ndee, no matter where you have been. I sense your desire to know about the time in which we used to live. The way was purer, more peaceful for the Apache then. Usen, The Life-Giver, was clearer to us. His blessings touched all parts of our lives. He created our lands, the fruit and grain, the game we needed. Through Him, Is Dzán Naadleeshe' -Changing Woman-was created."

Two Women, Two Religions, Two Causes

The New York Times carried separate articles in the same issue about two women, Sister Ruth Lautt and Fadela Amara, who represent causes that are both unpopular and, at times, misunderstood. They both have accumulated enemies.

The column by Samuel Freedman, On Religion, highlights Sister Ruth Lautt, Lawyer-Turned-Nun Rises to Israel’s Defense:

"Through the organization she founded three years ago, Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East, Sister Ruth has frequently and sharply clashed with the very denominations housed under the God Box’s roof. When they have proposed divestment from Israel or more generally condemned its actions against Palestinians, she has fought against those positions, vociferously speaking out for Israel’s right to self-defense and security."

"In the rancorous and relentless debate on the Middle East conflict, Sister Ruth stands as a sui generis player. She has little contact with Jewish advocacy groups, none with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby. She disassociates herself from Christian Zionists of the theological and political right. Even while defending Israel’s defensive measures, including the separation barrier, she openly criticizes its occupation of the West Bank and laments Palestinian suffering."

Sister Ruth is the Sr. Ruth Lautt, O.P., Esq. is the founder and National Director of Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East. She is a professed member of the Sisters of the Order of St. Dominic, Congregation of the Holy Cross, Amityville, New York. The group advocates among mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics in North America for fairness in the churches’ witness on issues related to the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

From a UN seminar entitled Confronting Anti-Semitism:  Education for Tolerance and Understanding:

Sister Ruth Lautt, of the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Amityville, and a law partner at a Long Island-based law firm, said she was deeply concerned about the worldwide rise in anti-Semitism, particularly how that was taking new and insidious forms, specifically the “demonization” of Israel.  Make no mistake about it –- that was anti-Semitism; just the same old sin wrapped in a new politically correct wrapper by a world that was all too willing to believe the worst about the Jewish State.  Everyone knew all too well what could happen when that got out of hand, so something should be done about that now.  Tragically, for most of 2,000 years of shared salvation history, Christians had not been a blessing to Jews, which had led to Jewish isolation and discrimination.

She said it was time to very aggressively "unteach” the sin of anti-Semitism.  She was working on a programme in her Brooklyn diocese, which brought together Jews and Catholics to learn the truths about each other’s religions and unlearn the negative and false stereotypes.  The world was collectively faced with a very grave responsibility.  Everyone was obliged to work towards the eradication, not only of anti-Semitism, but of hatred and intolerance in every form.  When it came to the ancient sin of anti-Semitism, the world had a particular responsibility because it knew all too well how dire the consequences could be.  The answer lay, in part, in an honest, thorough, and very aggressive approach to educating people in the truth.

Fadela Amara is the subject of The Times' Saturday Profile, A Daughter of France’s ‘Lost Territories’ Fights for Them:

"But at 44, this left-wing feminist with no higher education is something else: one of the highest-ranking Muslim women in France, with overall responsibility for bringing new hope to the poor, angry banlieues — the working-class suburbs of immigrants — that burst into flames three years ago, shocking the country."

"This month, Ms. Amara will be the center of a meeting of all government ministers on the problems of the banlieues ..The idea is to promote more job creation and cultural options, better health care, transportation, law enforcement and education in what Ms. Amara calls the 'lost territories of the republic.' "

Fadela Amara is the founder of Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither whores nor submissives). Wikipedia outlines the group's history:

Two high-profile cases gave a particular impetus to NPNS during 2003. The first was that of Samira Bellil, who published a book called Dans l'enfer des tournantes ("In Gang Rape Hell") in which she recounts her life as a girl under la loi des cités (the law of the housing projects) where she was gang raped on more than one occasion, the first time at age 13, afraid to speak out, and ultimately seen only as a sexual object, alienated and shunned by her family and some of her friends. The second case was that of 17-year-old Sohanne Benziane who was burned alive by an alleged small-time gang leader.

In the wake of these events, members of Ni Putes Ni Soumises staged a march through France, which started in February 2003 and passed through to over 20 cities before culminating in a 30,000-strong demonstration in Paris on March 8, 2003. The march was officially called la Marche des femmes des quartiers contre les ghettos et pour l'égalité (The March of Women from the housing projects against ghettoes and for equality). Representatives of Ni Putes Ni Soumises were received by French Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin. Their message was also incorporated into the official celebrations of Bastille Day 2003 in Paris, when 14 giant posters each of a modern woman dressed as Marianne, the symbol of the French Republic, were hung on the columns of the Palais Bourbon, the home of the Assemblée nationale (the lower house of the French parliament).

What follows is a translation of the key points of NPNS's national appeal on its official website:

  • No more moralising: our condition has worsened. The media and politics have done nothing, or very little, for us.
  • No more wretchedness. We are fed up with people speaking for us, with being treated with contempt.
  • No more justifications of our oppression in the name of the right to be different and of respect toward those who force us to bow our heads.
  • No more silence in public debates about violence, poverty and discrimination.

Book Reviews

CultureWatch: Jo Freeman reviews Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq. Putting death and injury aside, these are success stories of a dozen women who overcame numerous challenges and how the 'grunts' learned to respect the female soldiers as soldiers

Jo Freeman reviews Bella Abzug by Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom: This is a tantalizing book. It tells some good stories, but makes you want more. Consider it a tasty appetizer to the serious biography of Bella Abzug that awaits its author

Diane Middleton

I interviewed Prof. Diane Middleton at Stanford for a Notebook question at Time. She was gracious and answered the question with the degree of acuteness I needed to complete the assignment. I found this interview after learning of her death:

DM: Oh, the book, the blue book here; no, I don’t read the log, I just write it, like a journal. The master file, in a biography, is the dates of the subject. I’ve got “Ovid, 43 BCE” — every year of his life has a date. I have another file that is called Chrono; every note that I take in the archive finds its way into Chrono. To me it reads better than the narrative because everything is in it in a random way. I wish that the subject could read it; the biographer is in the privileged position of knowing more about the life than the subject does. Anne Sexton’s daughter called me up once: “Diane, we were having a debate the other day: when did my father change jobs?” That particular raw version of the book is one of the great satisfactions of it. It is like a photograph that begins to develop; you are so surprised to find juxtapositions: this day this happened, this day that happened. That’s the one I go to all the time, when I am writing a piece of the book, to remind myself of all the things I have left out — and did I leave anything out, when I have formulated this particular era — was there something that I overlooked when I was selecting, and do I want to put it back in. In writing through the book, I had overrun the page limit by 200. My manuscript was supposed to be 300 pages, and is now over 500. The final will be clearer and much tighter, true — but a lot of things need to be left out. So you are always looking for things that can be left out, or crucial inflections that can be given to what is already there.

From How I Write, Conversation Transcript

Sara Yorke Stevenson

We also noted (for another item), a woman referred to by the Penn Museum magazine, Expedition. One article that caught our eye was that about David Randall-MacIver; Explorer of Abydos and Curator of the Egyptian Section by Jennifer Houser Wegner. The author referred to Ms. Stevenson with the following and our interest was piqued:

"The Museum’s association with Egypt began in 1890, when the redoubtable Sara Yorke Stevenson was appointed the first head of the Egyptian Section. During her tenure the Museum contributed to the fieldwork of the EEF and received important materials from their excavations between 1890 and 1907. As involved as Stevenson was with acquiring Egyptian material, however, she was unable to inaugurate the Museum’s own excavations in Egypt."

Just who was the redoubtable Sara Yorke Stevenson? We looked up Ms. Stevenson and found the following book, Maximilian in Mexico, on Project Gutenberg:

"They had all been laid away in my mind, buried in the ashes of the past along with the old life. The drama in which each had played his part had for many years seemed as far off and dim as though read in a book a long time ago; and yet now, how alive it all suddenly became — alive with a life that no pen can picture!

"There were their photographs and their invitations, their old notes and bits of doggerel sent to accompany small courtesies — flowers, music, a Havana dog, or the loan of a horse. It was all vivid and real enough now. Those men were not to me mere historical figures of whom one reads. They fought historic battles, they founded a historic though ephemeral empire; their defeats, their triumphs, their "deals," their blunders, were now matters of history: but for all that, they were of common flesh and blood, and the strange incidents of a strangely picturesque episode in the existence of this continent seemed natural enough if one only knew the men.

"Singly or in groups, the procession slowly passed, each one pausing for a brief space in the flood of light cast by an awakening memory. Many wore uniforms — French, Austrian, Belgian, Mexican. Some were dancing gaily, laughing and flirting as they went by. Others looked careworn and absorbed by the preoccupations of a distracted state, and by the growing consciousness of the thankless responsibility which the incapacity of their rulers at home, and the unprincipled deceit of a few official impostors, had placed upon them. But all, whether thoughtful or careless, whether clairvoyant or blind, whether calmly yielding to fate or attempting to breast the storm, were driven along by the irresistible current of events, each drifting toward the darkness of an inevitable doom which, we now know, was inexorably awaiting him as he passed from the ray of light into the gloom in his "dance to death."

Read the rest of the book online at Project Gutenberg.

A quote from Ms. Stevenson from the Penn archives:

"The days of useless martyrdom are over, also those of heroic sacrifice where it is not needed. What we need to do today is not to slaughter men and parties who do not happen to think as we do but to educate them, teach them to see, to know, to love, to feel, to grow."

Sara Yorke Stevenson, 1894 D. Sc. (honorary); first curator of the Egyptian and Mediterranean section of the University Museum

Sightings, Gertrude Bell - A new biography of the Oriental Secretary to the High Commissioner in Baghdad and her own account, Syria: The Desert and the Sown online

Female Yeomen

The US National Archives reveal a little known group of women who formed a military group known as Female Yeomen in World War I. Nathaniel Patch is an archives specialist in the Modern Military Reference Branch at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland and wrote the following about this rarely referred to group of women who helped man the hundred of ships needed in World War I:

The social impact of the yeomen (F) reached beyond merely replacing men in shore establishments and naval shipyards. The five-year program opened the minds of their male peers to the women's abilities. The service of the yeomen (F) certainly assisted in the passing of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote. The yeomen (F) also created the precedence that gave rise to the WAVES in the Second World War. Their example also reached out beyond the Navy to all services. Since the First World War, women have taken on a greater role in the military achieving higher ranks and decorations for their achievements.

Women in today's military answer their country's call in all services and ranks. Until World War I, however, the military establishment did not officially accommodate women who wished to serve. Some women had to dress like men to fight in the field, and others risked their lives as frontline nurses, but these brave women were not recognized by the military.

At the turn of the 20th century, the progressive social movements advocated women's rights, but it took the first global war to give women the opportunity to prove themselves.

World War I was the first industrial war. It introduced new weapons like the machine gun, airplanes, tanks, battleships, and submarines. Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare propelled the United States from neutrality to war. The submarine, introduced to world navies around 1900, evolved from a coastal-bound vessel to a terror on the open seas. When unrestricted submarine war began in January 1917, the German navy sank 540,000 tons of shipping in the first month. In April 1917, the month's total had risen to 900,000 tons, several thousand of them American. Because Germany refused to stop sinking American shipping and Great Britain increased pressure for American intervention, the United States entered the war.

The Naval Act of 1916 Opens the Door

The call to arms went out, and hundreds of thousands of men volunteered for or were drafted into military service. Even with increase of manpower, the Navy remained shorthanded. The number of ships increased from three hundred to a thousand.

How were these new ships going to be manned? The answer lay in the unassuming language of the Naval Act of 1916, which unintentionally opened the door to women volunteering in the U.S. Navy. As in previous wars, women were prohibited from joining the Navy and other Regular armed services.

But the act's vague language relating to the reserve forces did not prohibit women. The act declared that the reserve force within the U.S. Navy would consist of those who had prior naval service, prior service in merchant marines, were part of a crew of a civilian ship commissioned in naval service, or "all persons who may be capable of performing special useful service for coastal defense." This last element contained the loophole that allowed women to enlist.

After reviewing the act, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and the Bureau of Navigation (the forerunner to the Bureau of Personnel) concluded that the language did not prohibit women from enlisting in the reserves. The act gave the Navy a previously untapped resource that allowed administrative operations to be carried out by naval personnel and freed able-bodied men to serve aboard ships.

On March 19, 1917, the Bureau of Navigation sent letters to the commanders of the naval districts informing them they could recruit women into the Naval Coast Defense Reserve to be "utilized as radio operators, stenographers, nurses, messengers, chauffeurs, etc. and in many other capacities in the industrial line." The new enlisted women were able to become yeomen, electricians (radio operators), or any other ratings necessary to the naval district operations. The majority became yeomen and were designated as yeomen (F) for female yeomen.

The Navy began recruiting women immediately, but it had no provisions for medical examinations or standards to which they were going to hold new recruits. Some recruiting offices were able to borrow female nurses from nearby naval hospitals to conduct the examinations.

At the beginning, it was assumed the yeomen would perform only administrative duties, so the majority of the tests focused on office skills. In spite of the confining categories the Navy placed upon the yeomen (F), the women also worked as mechanics, truck drivers, cryptographers, telephone operators, and munitions makers.

The Navy faced two problems specific to the new yeomen (F): living quarters and a dress code. A large number of these young women were assigned to posts away from home. Because the Navy had no protocol for women on naval bases, the female yeomen had to make their own arrangements for living quarters. Some were lucky and could find a place to stay with family or friends nearby. Many yeomen roomed at the YWCA or shared other apartments.

In some cases, the Navy helped. In Washington, D.C., the Navy leased some apartments for female yeomen who did not live locally. As the war progressed, housing became such a problem in Washington that the Navy proposed building dormitories for the beleaguered yeomen. The war ended before any of the construction projects began. In Newport, Rhode Island, the Navy housing conditions were so deplorable that the secretary of the Navy agreed to a subsidy to pay for room and board.

Standard Navy uniforms were tailored for men, but the Navy had no provision to supply women's clothing. At the time, it was still considered improper for women to wear anything but a dress or skirt. The solution was to lay down guidelines on what was to be considered regulation dress, and the yeomen (F) were given additional money to purchase what they needed. The uniforms of the yeomen (F) varied because they were either homemade or purchased outfits. Navy regulations later stated that uniforms had to be either white or blue. A single-breasted jacket topped a skirt whose hem had to be four inches above the ankle. Hats tended to be a brimmed hat made of a stiff felt. By the end of the war, the Navy had made changes to the regulations that governed gloves, hats, jackets, skirts, and handkerchiefs.

Read the rest of the article at the National Archives site.

Lady Bird Johnson

I often thought about how very sensitive and forward-thinking Lady Bird was in founding and funding the Wildflower Center. It is a cause that will live on long after her death.

Publisher's Weekly, in part, reviews Jan Russell's biography, Lady Bird: A Biography of Mrs. Johnson, in this way:

"After extensive interviews with Mrs. Johnson, Russell presents a complex portrait of an intelligent woman trapped in the social conventions of a 'Southern matron,' whose idealization of her father colored her relationship with her husband and whose commitment to social justice helped shape LBJ's war on poverty. Russell's analysis is often insightful, as when she discusses how LBJ's class prejudice affected Lady Bird's fashion choices, or her conscious decision to distance herself from Jackie Kennedy's image as a decorator by identifying publicly with Eleanor Roosevelt as a 'useful first lady.' "

The website dedicated to the continuing efforts to preserve and protect US wildflowers has, on its opening page, A Tribute to Lady Bird:

In 1982, Mrs. Claudia Alta Taylor Johnson and Mrs. Helen Hayes founded the National Wildflower Research Center to help preserve and restore the beauty and biological richness of North America. Later named the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the Wildflower Center is the capstone of Mrs. Johnson's life-long commitment to the nation's environment. Since its founding, the Wildflower Center has become one of the country's most effective voices for protecting native plants, natural landscapes and ecological health.

Lady Bird Johnson's family has expressed Mrs. Johnson's personal desire for memorials to be made to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Endowment Fund. Your endowment contribution is a sustaining gift that will help the Wildflower Center continue Mrs. Johnson's vision for conserving the beauty of the American Landscape.

Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Tribute website for memorial schedule and information. The White House site carries a brief biography and images are found at the LBJ Library site. PBS has a section dedicated to the former First Lady.


Jo Freeman's review of Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who Would Be President — Best known for running for President in 1884 and 1888, Lockwood .... was constantly pushing the boundaries of the possible. The book provides an enjoyable and enlightening narration of US history and women's history as well as the history of a life

Susan Athey

The winner of the John Bates Clark medal is, for the first time, a woman, Susan Athey. In 60 years, since the creation of the award, no woman has won the medal.

    John Bates Clark (1847-1938), American economist, was the first to develop marginal productivity theory, using it to explore the distribution of income between returns to labor and capital in a market economy. His work influenced other economists, including Frank Knight. He taught at Columbia University. The prestigious John Bates Clark award is given every other year to an economist under age 40, in his honor. The Distribution of Wealth

Ms. Athey's biography includes a page that summarizes her research. At the Vanderbilt site, there's a description of the work that won her the prize.

Here's what Sylvia Nasar (the author of A Beautiful Mind, the life of John Forbes Nash) said of Ms. Athey in a 1995 New York Times article:

By SYLVIA NASAR, 21 April 1995

STANFORD, Calif. — She's only 24, but everybody in the world of economics already knows her. About two dozen universities — Berkeley, Harvard, M.I.T., Princeton, Stanford and Yale among them — sought her as a junior member of their faculties. They called her one of the most promising candidates in several years. "We fought really hard to get her," said Bengt Holmstrom at M.I.T., where she ultimately accepted a job. "I've rarely seen somebody about whom there was as much unanimity."

"This," said one of her thesis advisers at Stanford, John Roberts, "is Superwoman."

Her name is Susan Athey and she's the hottest prospect among the new Ph.D.'s in economics who are moving on to high-powered research departments as assistant professors this year.Harriet Woods

Mrs. McCaskill (for herself, Mr. Bond, Mrs. Clinton, Mrs. Boxer, Ms. Stabenow, Ms. Cantwell, Ms. Mikulski, Mrs. Feinstein, Mrs. Murray, Mrs. Lincoln, Ms. Klobuchar, Mr. Bingaman, Mr. Levin, Mr. Dodd, Mr. Obama, and Mr. Harkin) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary



Expressing the sense of the Senate that Harriett Woods will be remembered as a pioneer in women's politics.

Whereas Harriett Woods, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, launched a 50-year political career with a neighborhood crusade against rattling potholes;

Whereas Harriett Woods, who died of leukemia at the age of 79 on February 8, 2007, had many firsts, including being the first female
editor for her college newspaper at the University of Michigan, the
first woman on the Missouri Transportation Commission, and the first
woman to win statewide office in the State of Missouri as Lieutenant

Whereas, from 1991 to 1995, Harriett Woods served as president of the National Women's Political Caucus, a bipartisan grassroots organization whose mission is to increase women's participation in the political process at all levels of government; and

Whereas Harriett Woods was integral to the electoral successes of what became known as the Year of the Woman, when in 1992, female candidates won 19 seats in the House of Representatives and 3 seats in the Senate:
Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that Harriett Woods will be remembered as a pioneer in women's politics, whose actions and leadership inspired hundreds of women nationwide to participate in the political process and to break gender barriers at every level of government.

"You can stand tall without standing on someone. You can be a victor without having victims."
Woods, Harriet

Remembering Harriet Woods, June 2, 1927 - February 8, 2007

She entered politics because the city wouldn’t fix a noisy manhole cover that woke her babies up from their naps, and because she got steamed, women nationwide have benefited politically.

When she didn’t get any action on that manhole cover, she ran for a city council seat. From the city council, she was elected to the state legislature at a time when only two women held seats in the Missouri lege. – State Senator Harriet Woods and State Representative Sue Shear.

Harriet Woods was one of a kind, a scrapper to the very end, and she will be sorely missed. Ill with leukemia, a disease that would take her life a few weeks later, the first woman elected to statewide office in Missouri was out stumping and hustling and working to get Democratic women elected to the Missouri legislature.
From Remembering Harriet Woods, June 2, 1927 - February 8, 2007

Women at War

During this women's history month, the Library of Congress is featuring Experiencing War, Stories from the Veterans History Project:

Chosen from among the over 3,000 collections of women’s experiences in the Veterans History Project, this modest selection spans four wars.

While many of the collections are nurses’ tales, there is also the story of a code breaker (Ann Caracristi: "It made a big difference in winning the war in the Pacific — and we were aware of that."), a welder (Meda Montana Brendall: "You wouldn't believe the prayers that were said down there for our boys"), and a flight surgeon (Rhonda Cornum: "I would have been afraid, except that I was so grateful to be alive"), plus two women who rose through the ranks to secure places in the military history books.

Jeanne Holm served her country for 33 years, in 1971 becoming the first woman general in the Air Force: "There was a distinct caste system that has since about disappeared."

And in December 1990, Darlene Iskra became the first woman to command a US. Navy ship: "Don't treat me any differently; I am the commanding officer and that's it."

“Women at War” covers four wars, beginning with World War II, the first conflict in which American women appeared in uniform in all branches of the armed forces. The collection of stories includes nurses like Frances Liberty, who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and Jeanne Urbin Markle, who served with her husband in Vietnam. Other stories feature civilian codebreakers, a flight surgeon, and two history makers.

To date, more than 45,000 individuals have submitted stories to the Veterans History Project, and 3,900 of those stories can be accessed online [], many of which include audio and video interviews, photographs, diaries, letters and other materials, consisting of more than 150,000 online items. These materials are part of the continuing effort by the Library to make its collections accessible online.

Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard President

Bryn Mawr College Convocation Address, Saturday, May 19, 2001

Now I must begin with a confession. The prospect of giving this talk today appeared all the more daunting because I have always avoided ceremonial occasions. Perhaps my aversion grew out of my sixties youth — which made many of my generation regard ritual as somehow inauthentic, conformist, and repressive. I did, of course, attend my Bryn Mawr graduation in 1968 because it was not optional. If you didn't show up, you didn't get your degree — or at least that is what they told us. But — and I now confess something I have never before publicly revealed: In thirty years of association with the University of Pennsylvania I attended one commencement – skipping my own MA and Ph.D. ceremonies and showing up only for my younger brother's college graduation.

Now that I have entered the confessional mode, let me continue with more and related revelations, which may lead to my disbarment as Chair of the Trustees Committee on Student Life. I hated the Bryn Mawr traditions. During my four years as a Bryn Mawr trustee, I have listened to you speak lovingly of Lantern Night and Hell Week and May Day and have quietly squirmed in my chair. When I was a student here between 1964 and 1968, I was focused on establishing justice and equality in the world, bringing racial integration to American society and ending the war in Vietnam — all of which I expected to accomplish before graduation. (We actually did succeed in abolishing parietals even if our broader goals remained unrealized. I was struck by what an accomplishment that perhaps represented when I mentioned this little victory to my college-age daughter last week, and she looked at me blankly and asked what parietals were. They were the restrictions that required us to be back in the dorm by 2 a.m. and that did not permit men in the halls except during certain very limited hours. I take some satisfaction in the fact that not only was women's freedom from these rules achieved but this is now so taken for granted no one even knows what parietals were.) But in face of the struggle for freedom at Bryn Mawr, not to mention the struggle for justice and equality around the world, lanterns and strawberries and maypoles seemed somehow trivial — even frivolous.

Read the rest of the convocation speech at the Bryn Mawr site

(Editor's Note: We must admit a pride and prejudice in this posting as two of our three daughters graduated from Bryn Mawr)

Women Working, 1800 - 1930

Women Working, 1800 - 1930 focuses on women's role in the United States economy and provides access to digitized historical, manuscript, and image resources selected from Harvard University's library and museum collections. The collection features approximately 500,000 digitized pages and images.

One of the featured sections is Women in Entertainment, a far cry from the coverage we now see in the 'popular press' that follows the exploits of young actresses and entertainers of today:

Women in Entertainment

  Minnie Maddern Fiske, Theater Actress
"Mrs. Fiske is now in the heyday of her career; she is at an age when her powers are fully developed and her perceptions keenest ... She has no imitator, no follower, and will leave no successor. Her personality and methods are unique, and hers alone. Her magnetism is not transferable to any heir to her position on the stage, nor is it teachable." more on Fiske»
  Josephine Sherwood Hull, Stage and Screen Actress
Housed in the Schlesinger Library of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Josephine Hull's diary encompasses her life from 1920-1924 and is a valuable historical window into what it was like to be an actress in New York City during the height of the Roaring Twenties. more on Hull»
  Heroines of the Modern Stage
by Forrest Izard, 1915
"The impestuous feminine hand that wields scepter, thyrsus, dagger, fan, sword, bauble, banner, sculptor's chisel and horsewhip — it is overwhelming." By the poet Edmond Rostand this book »
  Famous Actresses of the Day in America
by Lewis Strang, 1899
"Her eyes large, blue, and roguish; her hair ashen brown and delicately rippling; unusually gifted intellectually, with a personality of the most persuasive magnetism, Maude Adams is to-day the most popular woman on the American stage. Her success is generally considered due to rare good fortune, but it is hardly fair thus to ignore the years of hard work that have gone to perfect an art so subtle that one hardly knows whether or not it exists at all."

This Shall Be the Land for Women: The Struggle for Western Women's Suffrage, 1860 - 1920

"Women of the American West led the nation and the world into the struggle for female voting rights, known as the 'suffrage movement.' This remarkable suffrage success story began in 1869, when Wyoming Territory approved full and equal suffrage for scarcely one thousand women. Contagious excitement for women's rights spread quickly across the Rocky Mountain landscape. 'This Shall be the Land for Women!' cheered western journalist Caroline Nichols Churchill upon Colorado's stunning victory by popular vote in 1893."

There's a timeline and biographical information about women central to the Washington state suffrage movement.

The Autry National Center is an intercultural history center formed from the merger of three important museums: the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, the Museum of the American West (formerly the Autry Museum of Western Heritage), and the Women of the West Museum in Los Angeles.

Previous exhibits at the WOW museum have been:

Collaborations: Drawn Together

"The first version of this exhibit, Drawn Together: Women Make Art in the American West, was produced by the Women of the West Museum with support from Xcel Energy Foundation. The table top exhibit, configured as a large, elegant, canvas book, premiered at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, in Boulder, Colorado.

There are No Renters Here

There are No Renters Here — Homesteading in a Sod House. In 1862, The United States government passed the Homestead Act, which opened up much of the West for settlement by U.S. Citizens. Land taken from American Indians — by means of war, treaties, and trading — was declared “public domain.” Signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln, The Homestead Act of 1862 made it possible for many people to own land for the first time in their lives.

An Archive of People's Memories during WWII, gathered by the BBC

There are 64 categories of contributions, and we've picked some related by women:

Leaving the bus we went through a side-door in this mansion, along a corridor and up a sweeping stairway to a large upstairs room where we were told to wait. Laura and I just looked at each other — after all we were only comparatively new recruits, while some of those present spoke of times at bases in Scotland etc. What we did not know at that time was that we had arrived where the D-Day landings were being planned.

— From In the WRNS with Laura Ashley

We slept in a Nissen hut with a large stove in the middle. The water coming out of the tap was brown and scalding hot! There were several of us there : Barbara Wilson — the chargehand who later became Barbara Manley and a lifelong friend (now sadly deceased). At first I disliked her due to her peremptory habit of ordering people around but later we were the best of friends. There was also the cook- a little Geordie named Violet- who made wonderful cakes and pastries. I can see her now, beating puff pastry with a rolling pin and fighting of the wasps in summer. Joan, from Woodseats in Sheffield, was also a good friend.

NAAFI Days in Woodhouse Eaves by Gladys Saunt

Being young and foolish, we decided to carry on. We arrived at my sister’s place to find her and her husband with gas-masks on and gloves handy in case poisonous gas was dropped. We didn’t have our gas-masks with us — everybody was issued with one and you were supposed to take them everywhere with you. Babies went into a sort of box, which could be carried around, to keep them protected. After about an hour, the ‘all clear’ sounded, nothing had happened — it was a false alarm. Little did we know, that siren going was to become a very familiar sound.

Mary Lawrence (nee Churchill) and Fred Lawrence

Recollections of Life in the East End of London between 1938 and 1945, by Alice Beanse:

One of the most traumatic days of my life was 7 September 1940, when Hitler decided to unleash his fury on the East End of London, and my mother, father and I endured, along with thousands of other people, the worst bombing attack on that part of London. That day will live with me forever.

In 1944 we were beginning to think that all could be well again soon, and believing that the war was drawing to an end, but there were new horrors ahead for us. These were the buzz bombs which were launched from French soil and landed indiscriminately, anywhere, with no warning. Thirty-six of these buzz bombs landed on Stepney alone. Worse was to come. Later that year a deadlier weapon, the V2 was unleashed. When its engine stopped, it dropped like a stone, killing people and wreaking destruction where it landed.

By this time everything was rationed. Mothers would queue for hours at butchers and bakers. Some previously common foodstuffs such as bananas disappeared completely from sale. On a given day after the war all children were given a banana, this day became known as 'banana day'.

However amongst my many sad memories I recall a very happy one. On answering the phone early one morning (it was an early morning alarm call for my sister) the operator said 'the war is over'. Thus began the slow return to a normal happy life, my father returning home, my mother's remaining brother returning from the PoW camp, and life beginning to be lived properly again. The end of the war was to bring a sense of joy to everybody.

Dear Mrs. Roosevelt

Letters to the First Lady during the Depression make up a part of the New Deal Network, a creation of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute (FERI). "Currently there are over 20,000 items in this database, many of them previously accessible only to scholars. Unlike many databases on the Web, which represent the holdings of a particular institution, NDN is drawing from a wide variety of sources around the country to create a theme-based archive."

"During her first year in the White House, Mrs. Roosevelt received 300,000 pieces of mail from adults and children. She continued to receive hundreds of thousands of letters in the years that followed.

The First Lady had a secretary who was in charge of the mail. Her secretary would read the mail and either reply to it or send it to another department for action. She would also select about 50 letters a day for Mrs. Roosevelt to read. The First Lady would sometime dictate replies to those letters."

Here is one example of a letter to the First Lady and her reply:

Dear President and Mrs. Roosevelt.

The favor I am about to ask you is one which I consider a great one. I am asking if you could possibly send me a girl's bicycle. The school which I attend is very far and I am not very healthy I often get pains in my sides. My father only works two days a week and there are six in my family, it is impossible in almost every way that I can get a bicycle! I am in the eighth grade and am very fond of school. Sometimes I have to miss school on account of the walk so far. I have often thought things would pick up and father might be able to get me a bicycle, but instead they have grown worse. I assure you that the bicycle shall not be used as a pleasure but as a necessity.

I shall be waiting patiently, for my greatest wish to be granted, as I feel sure that you cannot and will not turn me down. Please try to send it to me.

I shall remain

Sincerely yours,
M. B.

Reply to the letter: April 3, 1935

My dear Miss B.:

Mrs. Roosevelt has asked me to acknowledge your letter for her. She is very sorry indeed that she cannot comply with your wishes, but owing to the large number of similar requests, it is impossible for her to do as you ask.

Assuring you of her regret, I am

Very sincerely yours,
Secretary to
Mrs. Roosevelt
(M. L. T.)

and another:

Dear Mrs. Roosevelt. I am writing you a little letter this morning. Are you glad it is spring I am. For so manny poor people can raise some more to eat. You no what I am writing this letter for. Mother said Mrs. Roosevelt is a God mother to the world and I though mabe you had some old clothes You no Mother is a good sewer and all the little girls are getting Easter dresses. And I though you had some you no. papa could wear Mr. Roosevelt shirts and cloth I no. My papa like Mr. Roosevelt and Mother said Mr. Roosevelt carry his worries with a smile You no he is always happy. You no we are not living on the relief we live on a little farm. papa did have a job And got laid on 5 yrs ago so we save and got two horses and 2 cows and a hog so we can all the food stuff we can ever thing to eat some time we don't have eni thing but we live. But you no it so hard to get cloth. So I though mabe you had some. You no what you though was no good Mother can make over for me I am 11 yr old. I have 2 brother and a sister 14 yr old. I wish I could see you. I no I would like you both. And shoes Mother wears 6 or 61/2. And papa wear 9. We have no car or no phone or Radio papa he would like to have a radio but he said there is other thing he need more. papa is worried about his seed oats. And one horse is not very good. But ever one has't to worrie, I am send this letter with the pennie I get to take to Sunday school Mother give me one So it took 3 week. Cause mother would think I better not ask for things from the the first Lady. But mother said you was an angle for doing so much for the poor. And I though that would be all rite this is some paper my teacher gave for Xmas

Robert Cohen's article on the site, "Dear Mrs. Roosevelt": Cries for Help from the Depression Generation, and the American Youth Crisis of the 1930's, remarks that " Only a relative handful of letters (out of the 150 surveyed for this article) gave any sense of childhood or adolescence as periods when play and other child-like pursuits were at center stage. It was relatively rare to find letters asking for toys or other items which these young people could use for fun."

Her Lab in Your Life: Women In Chemistry

Here are a few examples of the women profiled at the Chemical Heritage Foundation Collections and Exhibits site, Her Lab in Your Life:

Ellen Swallow Richards
If you're confident that your tap water is safe to drink and your groceries are safe to eat, your confidence rests on the work of Ellen Swallow Richards. In 1887 Richards conducted an enormous, pioneering survey of drinking water in Massachusetts, which led to the establishment of water-quality standards and modern sewage treatment plants. Richards then pursued chemical studies to determine the ingredients in groceries, along with their quality, which eventually led to state food and drug standards. Richards was the first woman to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she spent her entire career. She founded a women's chemistry laboratory at MIT and established the field of "home economics," which used science to improve sanitation in people's homes.

Alice Hamilton (1869–1970) was one of four daughters and a son born to one of the founding families of Fort Wayne, Indiana. After attending a girls' boarding school that gave scant attention to science, she spent a summer being tutored in chemistry and physics before entering the University of Michigan Medical School. At Michigan she became fascinated with the subject of pathology and decided to become a research scientist rather than enter clinical practice, though she did complete her medical training. She returned briefly to the University of Michigan for graduate studies before setting out for Germany to pursue work in the field of bacteriology. Unlike her male counterparts, she was not welcomed by the German universities. She was rejected twice in Berlin before she was finally received in Frankfurt. Upon her return to the United States, Hamilton became a research assistant at Johns Hopkins Medical School ... In 1919 Hamilton joined the faculty of the Harvard Medical School — at that time she was the only woman faculty member in the entire university.

Hazel Bishop (1906–1998) was born in Hoboken, New Jersey. After attending Barnard College and graduating in May 1929, she planned to go to medical school, but the Depression intervened. Anxious to stay in school, she went to work for a well-known dermatologist and syphilologist, A. B. Cannon, at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. While working in his laboratory, she took classes in biochemistry and also helped him create the Almay line of hypoallergenic cosmetics. (The name Almay comes from Cannon's first name, Al, and his wife Fanny's middle name, May.) Bishop then worked as an organic chemist, first for Standard Oil Development Company, during World War II, and then for Socony Vacuum Oil, until 1949.

Inspired by Cannon's work, Bishop experimented with lipstick recipes in her mother's kitchen-cum-laboratory in the late 1940s. She ultimately succeeded in creating a lipstick "guaranteed not to come off on cigarette butts, glasses, or him."

You don't have to look any further than the life and work of Cecile Hoover Edwards to see how chemistry can be used to solve the real problems of real people. From the time she was in college, Edwards knew she wanted to improve the health of lower-income Americans by improving their diets, and she dedicated her career to doing just that.

Edwards was born in 1926 in East St. Louis, Illinois. She entered college when she was only 15, enrolling at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Alabama, the historically black school made famous by Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver, among others. After earning her bachelor's and master's degrees there, she went on to earn a Ph.D. in nutrition from Iowa State University. She married Gerald Alonzo in 1952, then joined the faculty of Tuskegee the next year. In 1971 she left Tuskegee for Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she was dean of the School of Human Ecology from 1974 to 1986, and where she remained until her retirement in 2000. Edwards established the Ph.D. program in nutrition at Howard, the only one of its kind in the United States at a predominantly African-American University.

Linda K. Ford has taught at several schools in the Cincinnati area, both in the city and in the suburbs. She also taught at a technical college on the side for a while. Wherever she teaches, her lessons are always creative, often focused on the real-world aspects of chemistry and involving the latest technology and instrumentation. She teaches separation by having her students distill vodka, spiked with salt to make it undrinkable, of course. She uses the chemical reactions that power hydrogen fuel cells to teach how nature prescribes the fixed proportions in which chemical elements can combine. Ford wangled a gas chromatograph for her students to use in lab activities, and she often pairs her students with professional scientists to carry out lab activities using sophisticated instruments not usually available to high school students.

In all of this, Ford never forgets to put on a good show. For Halloween she appears to her students as the Great Chemtini, performing feats of chemical “magic.” She's been known to show up dressed like the “Brazilian bombshell” Carmen Miranda for her famous Methane Mambo demonstration. And she brings poetry into the chemistry lab, reading Jack Prelutsky's eerie poem Will o'the Wisp while demonstrating how to make phosphine gas.

Olivia Butler

We've become acquainted with Octavia Estelle Butler late; she died in February 2006. But it's not too late to discover "the first African-American woman to gain popularity and critical acclaim as a major science fiction writer."

However, there are a number of sites that celebrate and introduce this author. A Seattle Times article cites her brilliance:

For more than 30 years, Seattle science-fiction novelist Octavia Butler dreamed up fantastic worlds and religions, made-up creatures and futuristic plots. Then, in her stylistic prose, she used them to tackle the social issues she was most passionate about.

"Parable of the Talents, a futuristic story about a utopian community ravaged by civil war, explored modern-day issues of intolerance, the growing gap between rich and poor, and environmentalism. In her first novel, "Kindred," she plunged into racial issues when a modern-day character was transported into the body of a pre-Civil War slave.

Another story in the Seattle Post Intelligencer notes that "She remains the only science fiction writer to receive one of the vaunted "genius grants" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, a hard-earned $295,000 windfall in 1995 that followed years of poverty and personal struggles with shyness and self-doubt."

A site, Voices from the Gaps, founded in 1996 as a collaborative project of the American Studies Department and English Department at the University of Minnesota has dedicated a page to Octavia Butler.

Listen to the Northeast Public Radio Show, Book Talk, interview with Ms. Butler:

"Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina interviews science fiction author Octavia Butler about her novel Parable of the Talents, about a woman in the not-too-distant future who founds her own religion. Gretchen talks to Butler about the novel's themes and why she prefers writing in the genre. The show is a repeat of one of Butler's infrequent interviews, and is being played in honor of the author, who passed on in late February."

An excerpt from that book from the TimeWarner Bookmark site:

And she's gone. My brothers are gone. I'm alone — as I was alone that night five years ago. The house is ashes and rubble around me. It doesn't burn or crumble or even fade to ashes, but somehow, in an instant, it is a ruin, open to the night sky. I see stars, a quarter moon, and a streak of light, moving, rising into the sky like some life force escaping. By the light of all three of these, I see shadows, large, moving, threatening. I fear these shadows, but I see no way to escape them. The wall is still there, surrounding our neighborhood, looming over me much higher than it ever truly did. So much higher . . . . It was supposed to keep danger out. It failed years ago. Now it fails again. Danger is walled in with me. I want to run, to escape, to hide, but now my own hands, my feet begin to fade away. I hear thunder. I see the streak of light rise higher in the sky, grow brighter.

Then I scream. I fall. Too much of my body is gone, vanished away. I can't stay upright, can't catch myself as I fall and fall and fall. . .

Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique

The Problem that Has No Name

The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night — she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question —"Is this all?"

For over fifteen years there was no word of this yearning in the millions of words written about women, for women, in all the columns, books and articles by experts telling women their role was to seek fulfillment as wives and mothers. Over and over women heard in voices of tradition and of Freudian sophistication that they could desire — no greater destiny than to glory in their own femininity. Experts told them how to catch a man and keep him, how to breastfeed children and handle their toilet training, how to cope with sibling rivalry and adolescent rebellion; how to buy a dishwasher, bake bread, cook gourmet snails, and build a swimming pool with their own hands; how to dress, look, and act more feminine and make marriage more exciting; how to keep their husbands from dying young and their sons from growing into delinquents. They were taught to pity the neurotic, unfeminine, unhappy women who wanted to be poets or physicists or presidents. They learned that truly feminine women do not want careers, higher education, political rights — the independence and the opportunities that the old-fashioned feminists fought for. Some women, in their forties and fifties, still remembered painfully giving up those dreams, but most of the younger women no longer even thought about them. A thousand expert voices applauded their femininity, their adjustment, their new maturity. All they had to do was devote their lives from earliest girlhood to finding a husband and bearing children.

By the end of the nineteen-fifties, the average marriage age of women in America dropped to 20, and was still dropping, into the teens. Fourteen million girls were engaged by 17. The proportion of women attending college in comparison with men dropped from 47 per cent in 1920 to 35 per cent in 1958. A century earlier, women had fought for higher education; now girls went to college to get a husband. By the mid-fifties, 60 per cent dropped out of college to marry, or because they were afraid too much education would be a marriage bar. Colleges built dormitories for "married students," but the students were almost always the husbands. A new degree was instituted for the wives —"Ph.T." (Putting Husband Through).

Then American girls began getting married in high school. And the women's magazines, deploring the unhappy statistics about these young marriages, urged that courses on marriage, and marriage counselors, be installed in the high schools. Girls started going steady at twelve and thirteen, in junior high. Manufacturers put out brassieres with false bosoms of foam rubber for little girls of ten. And on advertisement for a child's dress, sizes 3-6x, in The New York Times in the fall of 1960, said: "She Too Can Join the Man-Trap Set."

Read the rest of Chapter One of The Feminine Mystique, The Problem that Has No Name

Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy

On May 11 Addams, after giving a talk at the University of Wisconsin and visiting Mary Addams Linn in Kenosha, wrote Alice that their sister’s health was improving. The same day, a major strike erupted at the Pullman Car Works, in the southernmost part of Chicago. The immediate cause of the strike was a series of wage cuts the company had made in response to the economic crisis. Since September the company had hired back most of the workers it had laid off at the beginning of the depression, but during the same period workers’ wages had also fallen an average of 30 percent. Meanwhile, the company, feeling pinched, was determined to increase its profits from rents. In addition to the company’s refusing to lower the rent rate to match the wage cuts, its foremen threatened to fire workers living outside of Pullman who did not relocate to the company town. The result was that two-thirds of the workforce was soon living in Pullman. By April, many families were struggling to pay the rents and in desperate straits; some were starving. The company’s stance was firm. “We just cannot afford in the present state of commercial depression to pay higher wages,” Vice President Thomas H. Wickes said. At the same time, the company continued to pay its stockholders dividends at a the rate of 8 percent per annum, the same rate it had paid before the depression hit.

The workers had tried to negotiate. After threatening on May 5 to strike if necessary, leaders of the forty-six-member workers’ grievance committee met twice with several company officials, including, at the second meeting, George Pullman, the company’s founder and chief executive, to demand that the company reverse the wage cuts and reduce the rents. The company refused, and on May 11, after three of the leaders of the grievance committee had been fired and a rumor had spread that the company would lock out all employees at noon, twenty-five hundred of the thirty-one hundred workers walked out. Later that day, the company laid off the remaining six hundred. The strike had begun. “We struck at Pullman,” one worker said, “because we were without hope.”

For Addams, the coincidental timing of the strike and Mary’s illness, both of which would soon worsen, made each tragedy, if possible, a greater sorrow. The strike was a public crisis. Its eruption raised difficult questions for Addams about the ethics of the industrial relationship. What were George Pullman’s obligations to his employees? And what were his employees’ to him? Was it disloyal of him to treat his workers as cogs in his economic machine? Or was it disloyal of his workers to strike against an employer who supplied them with a fine town to live in? Who had betrayed whom? Where did the moral responsibility lie? Mary’s illness was Addams’s private crisis. Mary was the faithful and loving sister whose affection Addams had always relied on and whose life embodied the sacrifices a good woman made for the sake of family. Mary had given up her chance for further higher education for her family’s sake and had been a devoted wife to a husband who had repeatedly failed to support her and their children. The threat of her death stirred feelings of great affection and fears of desperate loss in Addams.

Read the rest of the excerpt from Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy at the University of Chicago Press site. See also the Jane Addams Hull— House Museum.

Mary Reynolds

How intimate she was with the artery-stream of Paris, in the pulse of its creators, major and minor. There was something immediate in her sense of appreciation, she seemed to be right at the side of writers and artists as they became themselves, so she was a continuous witness. I loved Mary dearly; her gayety, the special timbre of her voice, her laughter, her smile which was often so contemplative, oh, she was a captivating woman. (From a Janet Flanner letter June 7, 1957)

Rosa Parks

People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day.- … No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.

— Rosa Parks, 1995

I was arrested on December 1st, 1955 for refusing to stand up on the order of the bus driver, after the white seats had been occupied in the front. And of course, I was not in the front of the bus as many people have written and spoken that I was — that I got on the bus and took the front seat, but I did not. I took a seat that was just back of where the white people were sitting, in fact, the last seat. A man was next to the window, and I took an aisle seat and there were two women across. We went on undisturbed until about the second or third stop when some white people boarded the bus and left one man standing. And when the driver noticed him standing, he told us to stand up and let him have those seats. He referred to them as front seats. And when the other three people — after some hesitancy — stood up, he wanted to know if I was going to stand up, and I was not. And he told me he would have me arrested. And I told him he may do that. And of course, he did.

He didn't move the bus any further than where we were, and went out of the bus. Other people got off -- didn't any white people get off -- but several of the black people got off.

Two policemen came on the bus and one asked me if the driver had told me to stand and I said yes. And he wanted to know why I didn't stand, and I told him I didn't think I should have to stand up. And then I asked him, why did they push us around? And he said, and I quote him, "I don't know, but the law is the law and you are under arrest." And with that, I got off the bus, under arrest.

When I was arrested, I was 43 years old. There were so many needs for us to continue to work for freedom, because I didn't think that we should have to be treated the way were, just for the sake of white supremacy, because it is designed to make them feel superior, and us feel inferior. That was the whole plan of racially enforced segregation.

What would you like to tell us about your life since the bus boycott?

I would have to take longer than a minute to give my whole synopsis of my life, but I want to let you know that all of us should be free and have equal opportunity and that is what I'm trying to instill and encourage and inspire young people to reach their highest potential.

From a 1995 Rosa Parks interview for the Academy of Achievement


Constance Baker Motley

"When I was about fifteen, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. No one thought this was a good idea, and I received no encouragement ... I was the kind of person who would not be put down."

Constance Baker Motley

Agents of Social Change, a Smith College site, contains a collection of papers from the late jurist:

Constance Baker Motley began her remarkable career as a law clerk for Thurgood Marshall, then chief counsel for the NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She went on to participate in almost every important Civil Rights case of the 1950s and '60s. In 1964, Motley became the first African-American woman elected to the New York State Senate, representing Manhattan's upper west side and west Harlem districts. In 1965, she was elected President of the Borough of Manhattan. The next year, she was appointed judge for the Southern District Court of New York, becoming the first African-American woman ever named to a federal bench. She was appointed chief justice in 1982, and currently holds the status of senior judge.

An excerpt from the Farrar Giroux Motley autobiography, Equal Justice Under the Law:

The day after the meeting, I had a telephone call from the newly appointed director of the community center. He said Mr. [Clarence W.] Blakeslee wanted to see me. I went a day or so later. He and I talked alone in his unpretentious office. He said, as best as I can recall, “I was very impressed with what you had to say the other night. I looked up your high school record, and I see you graduated with honors. I want to know why you are not in college.” Startled, I said, “I don’t have the money to go to college. My parents do not have the money to send me to college.” He asked, “What would you like to do?” I said, “I’d like to be a lawyer.” With raised, truly bushy eyebrows, he said, “Well, I don’t know much about women in the law, but if that’s what you want to do, I’ll be happy to pay your way for as long as you want to go. I am sending my grandson to Harvard Law School. I guess if I can send him to Harvard, I can send you to Columbia.” Then he said, “Never be afraid to speak up; as Abraham Lincoln said, an independent voice is God’s gift to the nation.”

An excerpt from the autobiography of Constance Baker Motley. Equal Justice Under Law. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1998.

National Woman's Party

The Library of Congress has organized 448 pages of photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party.

Their picketing, pageants, parades, and demonstrations — as well as their subsequent arrests, imprisonment, and hunger strikes — were successful in spurring public discussion and winning publicity for the suffrage cause. Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party presents both images that depict this broad range of tactics as well as individual portraits of organization leaders and members. The photographs span from about 1875 to 1938 but largely date between 1913 and 1922. They document the National Woman’s Party’s push for ratification of the 19th Amendment as well as its later campaign for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. This online presentation is a selection of 448 photographs from the approximately 2,650 photographs in the Records of the National Woman’s Party collection, housed in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.

An essay at the site, Suffrage Campaign Tactics, describes the conditions arrested suffragettes suffered; here are some excerpts:

The dangerous situation inside the detention facilities escalated, peaking in November in with what became known as the “Night of Terror.” Occoquan Superintendent Raymond Whittaker threatened prisoners that he would end the picketing, even if it cost some women their lives. On November 15, 1917, he instigated the use of force by guards against a newly imprisoned set of pickets, a group that included many core NWP national and state organizers. Women were beaten, pushed, and bodily carried and thrown into their cells when they refused to cooperate and attempted to negotiate with the superintendent. Other means of physical intimidation also were used. Dora Lewis was knocked unconscious and Lucy Burns handcuffed with her arms above her head.

For many of the middle-class and wealthy pickets, jail was a shock. Conditions at both the District and Virginia facilities were uncomfortable at best. Sanitation was severely lacking. Bedding went unwashed and was reused by different prisoners for months. Food had little nutritional value or appeal, and worse, was often riddled with worms or insects. At one point, jailed suffragists sent a heap of worms removed from their soup to the warden on a spoon. Most NWP activists came from sheltered, privileged backgrounds or enjoyed a highly respectable social status through their education, career, or marriage. Yet on principle and in defense of civil liberties, many chose to enter jail instead of paying a fine. Imprisonment often provided them with a firsthand education about how readily those less privileged could find their rights abridged within the court, police station, workhouse, and jail.

The next day, 16 of the women began a hunger strike, including Lewis and Burns. They followed the example set the previous month by Alice Paul and Rose Winslow. During her protest, Paul was subjected to psychiatric evaluation, threatened with transfer to an institution for the insane, and force-fed. News of her treatment was leaked outside the facility. When Burns and Lewis grew weak from refusing food, they, too, were force-fed. Burns had a tube forced up her nose rather than through her mouth, resulting in bleeding and injury.

Read the complete essay, Suffrage Campaign Tactics, from the Women of Protest site.

Skirting Tradition

I had lost the Governor’s race just a few weeks earlier and was reacquainting myself with the art of driving alone. As I headed to a meeting in the North Country, I stopped at a small corner store in Woodsville, New Hampshire.

Woodsville is a struggling rural community whose claims to fame include Al “I am in control here” Haig once acting as the Parade Marshall for their big Fourth of July celebration, and the Barge Inn, a favorite eating establishment that hosts a monthly meeting of “The Good Ol’ Boys.”

I had just grabbed a coffee and sandwich when a guy standing by the meat counter, sporting a hunter orange vest over his Perry Oil Service work shirt, looked up and blurted out:

You Arnesen?

Yes sir, I am.

Well there is somethin’ you need to know.


You’re the first broad I ever voted for.

I immediately went over and gave him a hug.

Honored to be your first.

I could hardly contain myself for the rest of the ride to Colebrook. I had won! I had won! I had convinced this conservative, sexist, North Country guy to take a risk . . . to trust me with his state, his taxes and his future. I knew my quixotic campaign had gotten more votes than any other Democrat had ever received running for Governor, but those numbers were nameless, faceless things . . . this was huge. This liberal democratic broad who had preached tax fairness and education equity for nearly two years to anyone who would listen, had been heard by an oil furnace repairman from Woodsville . . . eat your heart out Al Haig.

Read the rest of the chapter “That Woman Problem” by
Arnie Arnesen from Skirting Tradition at Harvard's Institute of Politics

Ruth McCombs Harkness

A biography of the explorer Ruth McCombs Harkness is told in a three-part series, A Time for Loving by E. M. Masloff, at the Female Explorers website: This site is dedicated to all the wondrous women who dared, and continue to dare, to explore the world around them.

It was 1936 when we Americans saw for the first time a living panda. It was a time for learning about a new kind of animal, one that no had ever seen alive in captivity before. It was no surprise to me that this amazing living creature was brought to us by a woman. She has been close to my heart most my life, because I too, knew her amazing story thanks to my Grandfather, who was her photographer and friend.

Who was Ruth Harkness? Ruth was a dressmaker/designer living in New York City in the 1930s. Ruth’s long time companion William Harkness was an avid adventurer and he teamed up with F. Tangier Smith, a professional animal collector. Together the men went in search for an unknown animal at that time, the Chinese Giant Panda. She wished she could go with them, and explore ancient China and the beauty of its‘ culture and people. William, or Bill as she called him did make her his wife shortly before the trip commenced, but she was still not invited to go on this trip. Ruth did not carry the scientific credits that William did, nor did she have the years of expert experience that F. Tangier Smith had accomplished.

Conventional thinking did not hinder young Ruth; she never gave up on her dream for a panda adventure, or for a family with Bill. Not long after the men set out, Ruth was receiving letters of encouragement and detail about the plans being made, only to find out later, that her husband was in a hospital with a terminal illness, caught from the Orient and that he would die before he would ever see the animal known as a giant panda.

Read the rest of part One, Two and Three at the Female Explorers site

Daring to Resist

PBS's companion site to their program, Daring to Resist, tell the story of three Jewish women who "reflect on their lives as teenagers in Holland, Hungary and Poland during World War II when they refused to remain passive in the face of the Holocaust."

Barbara Rodbell's talent for ballet and fierce determination helped her survive passing as a Christian while her family perished in Auschwitz. She distributed underground newspapers and moved Jews to safety under the cover of her profession as a ballerina.

Shulamit Lack rejected her parents fierce Hungarian patriotism and joined a Zionist youth organization. By the age of 19, Shulamit was leading groups of Jews in underground border crossings to Romania.

Faye Schulman joined the partisans and photographed their resistance activities, while she learned to wage war and nurse the wounded. She said, "When it was time to be hugging a boyfriend, I was hugging a rifle."

A timeline of events providing a framework for the women's stories is at the site as well as individual profiles of the women.

The day commemorating the deaths of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust during World War II was observed on its yearly date, May 5. It is the 60th anniversary of the death camps liberation.

At the US Holocaust Museum a Silent Witness page tells the story of Lola Rein and the dress embroidered with flowers and other designs that her mother sewed for her, the only possession she still has that directly connects her to her mother.

Websites for teaching the Holocaust are at the site including:

Education Resources for Teachers and Learners

Multimedia Learning Center Online

Facing History and Ourselves

Holocaust Teacher Resource Center

America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines

Almost every unmarried Englishwoman who emigrated to the Chesapeake must have dreamed of duplicating Temperance Flowerdew's or Joan Pierce 's luck. There wasn't much prospect of finding a good, upwardly mobile mate back home, where England was changing from a rather backward agricultural country to a mercantile giant and dislocating hundreds . . . of thousands of rural workers in the process. Very few available men could support a family. In fact, there seemed to be very few men around, period — the country was still recovering from a plague that had mysteriously killed far more men than women. Of the many sales pitches offered by the colonies, none struck home with women more than the prospects of finding a suitable spouse. "If any Maid or single Woman have a desire to go over, they will think themselves in the Golden Age, when Men paid a Dowry for their Wives; for if they be but civil, and under 50 years of Age, some honest Man or other will purchase them for their Wives," promised one promoter. (An even more enthusiastic propagandist announced that the women of North Carolina were terrifically fertile "and many Women from other Places who have been long Married and without Children, have remov'd to Carolina, and become joyfull Mothers.")

The recruiters preferred not to mention certain details. Even after the food shortages ended, the Chesapeake was a death trap. The brackish water, mosquito-laden swamps, and steamy weather killed most people during their first year. Those who survived often suffered from weakness or periodic fits as an aftermath of their exposure to malaria. At least 6,000 people came to Virginia between 1607 and 1624; by 1625, only 1,200 survivors were still there. But the colonies' sponsors were desperate to get females, by hook or by crook — their ventures were in danger of being wrecked on the shoals of dissolute, irresponsible young manhood. In 1619, the Virginia House of Burgesses, petitioning that wives as well as husbands be eligible for grants of free land, argued that in a new plantation, "it is not knowen whether man or woman be the most necessary." London recruiters began searching for marriageable women, offering free passage and trousseaus for girls of good reputation and a sense of adventure. When they married, their new husbands had to reimburse the company with 120 pounds of good leaf tobacco. The first shipment of ninety "tobacco brides" arrived in Jamestown in the spring of 1620. The youngest, Jane Dier, was fifteen or sixteen when she left England. Allice Burges, at twenty-eight, was one of the oldest and said to be skillful in the art of brewing beer — important in a place where the water was generally undrinkable. Cicely Bray was from one of the best families, of a rank that required her to be addressed as "Mistress" rather than the more plebian "goodwife." But all the brides were respectable women, mostly the offspring of middle-class tradesmen who had died, leaving them with no male protectors. All of them provided references, attesting to their honesty, sobriety, and past behavior. Anne Richards was "a woman of an honest [life] and conversation . . . and so is and ever hathe bynne esteemed," wrote one of her parish elders.

Read the entire excerpt from America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins at (now in paperback)

New Links

Genesis Project website - The Genesis project is a mapping initiative, funded by the Research Support Libraries Programme (RSLP) to identify and develop access to women's history sources in the British Isles. The database holds descriptions of women's history collections from libraries, archives and museums from around the British Isles. The Guide to Resources has an A-Z facility that allows for browsing for such pages as Sources in US Women's Labor History (Tamiment Institute Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives); Sunshine for Women (gender apartheid in Afghanistan); Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture at Duke University; Room of One's Own (a Canadian collection of short stories, poems, art, and reviews by, for, and about women) and Votes for Women - Suffrage Pictures, 1850 - 1920 from the Library of Congress.

Women's eNews - A nonprofit, independent news service covering the issues that are of particular concern to women. Women's eNews editor, Rita Henley Jensen and staff have nearly a half-century of journalism experience with newspapers, wire services and national publications and are determined to deliver full and balanced reporting to Women's eNews readers. Recent stories included one on Historians Working to Place Women's Sites on the Map, Women Play Major Roles in Middle East Film Industry and how Journalism Failed to Explain Abortion Ban. Most importantly, there is an Arabic component to the site. Feminist publications are linked as well as those focusing on other, more specific issues.



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