September 15 to October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month.
The Theme for 2023 is “Prosperity, Power and Progress.”
“If people don't vote, everything stays
the same. You can protest until the sky
turns yellow or the moon turns blue,
and it's not going to change anything
if you don't vote.”
– Dolores Huerta,
Mexican-American labor leader,
United Farm Workers co-founder
WOW2 is a four-times-a-month sister blog
to This Week in the War On Women
“We have to be visible. We should not
be ashamed of who we are.”
– Sylvia Rivera,
and transgender rights activist
“Puerto Ricans are United States citizens,
and I think that the issue of statehood
or independence needs to be addressed
and needs to be resolved.”
– Rosie Perez,
American performer and
Puerto Rican rights activist
The purpose of WOW2 is to learn about and honor women of achievement, including many who’ve been ignored or marginalized in most of the history books, and to mark events in women’s history.
These trailblazers have a lot to teach us about persistence in the face of overwhelming odds. I hope you will find reclaiming our past as much of an inspiration as I do.
THIS WEEK IN THE WAR ON WOMEN
will post shortly, so be sure to go there next, and
catch up on the latest dispatches from the frontlines.
Many, many thanks to libera nos, intrepid Assistant Editor of WOW2. Any remaining mistakes are either mine, or uncaught computer glitches in transferring the data from his emails to DK5. And much thanks to wow2lib, WOW2’s Librarian Emeritus.
Note: All images and audios are below the person or event to which they refer.
- September 9, 1488 – Anne De Bretagne, age 12, becomes Duchess of Brittany upon the death of her father, Francis II, Duke of Brittany, the last male of the House of Montfort, from 1488 until her death. She was also the only woman to have been queen consort of France twice, because she was married to Charles VIII, from 1491 until his death in 1498, and then to Louis XII, from 1499 until her death in 1514. She was highly regarded in Brittany as a conscientious ruler.
- September 9, 1834 – A mob attacks Prudence Crandall’s school for black women in Canterbury, Connecticut. She had already been arrested for breaking a local law against teaching “colored persons,’ and this attack forces her to close the school.
- September 9, 1850 – Jane E. Harrison born, British classical scholar and linguist; one of the founders, with Karl Kerenyi and Walter Burkert, of modern studies in Ancient Greek religion and mythology. She applied 19th-century archaeological discoveries to the interpretation of ancient Greek religion in ways that are now standard. She is also credited with being the first woman to obtain a post in England as a ‘career academic’. Harrison argued for women's suffrage but thought she would never want to vote herself. Her mother died shortly after she was born, and Harrison was educated by a series of governesses, who taught her German, Latin, Ancient Greek, and Hebrew. She later expanded her knowledge to about sixteen languages, including Russian. She attended Newnham College, the progressive, recently established college for women at Cambridge. She graduated in 1879, and spent most of her professional life at there. While a lecturer in classical archaeology at Newnham (1880-1898), she was vice president of the Hellenic Society (1889-1896). She met the Hungarian-Austrian archaeologist, Wilhelm Klein, who introduced her to Wilhelm Dörpfeld. Dörpfeld invited her to participate in his archaeological excavations at Bronze Age sites in Greece. Harrison wrote numerous books on her chosen field, including Myths of the Odyssey in Art and Literature (1882), The Mythology and Monuments of Ancient Greece (1890), Introductory Studies in Greek Art (1895), Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion (1903), Themis (1912), Ancient Art and Ritual (1913), and Epilogomena to the Study of Greek Religion (1921).
- September 9, 1867 – Delilah Leontium Beasley born, American historian, reporter, and newspaper columnist for the Oakland Tribune in California; first African American woman regularly published in a major metropolitan newspaper, and first person to present proof of the contributions of black pioneers in California, in her books Slavery in California (1918) and The Negro Trail-Blazers of California (1919), a pioneering work in California black history. She was a community activist, and a member of the northern California branch of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, and the California Federated Women’s Club. She also helped organize the Linden Center YWCA and founded the Delilah L. Beasley Literary and Improvement Club. Beasley campaigned for an International House at the University of California Berkeley, speaking out at a meeting of over 800 protesters who were against racial integration in the proposed International House, and writing rebuttals in the Tribune to white landlords’ claims that the house would cause UC Berkeley to be “overrun with Blacks and Asians.”
- September 9, 1868 – Mary Hunter Austin born, American author, an early writer about nature in the U.S. Southwest; her classic book is The Land of Little Rain (1903) describes the fauna, flora and people, and their mysticism and spirituality, in the region between the High Sierra and the Mojave Desert of Southern California.
- September 9, 1878 – Adelaide Crapsey born, American poet developer of the cinquain, a five-line poetic form inspired by Japanese poetry forms; she died of tubercular meningitis at age 36.
- September 9, 1903 – Phyllis A. Whitney born, young adult and mystery writer; President, Mystery Writers of America (1975); honored with the Grand Master Award (1988), and the Agatha (1989).
- September 9, 1910 – Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas take up lifetime residence together. American literary critic Edmund Wilson commented in a letter to John Dos Passos that their relationship is “The most perfect example of human symbiosis I have ever seen.”
- September 9, 1913 – Marjorie Lee Brown born, mathematics educator; after graduating cum laude from Howard University in 1935; one of the first African-American women to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, from the University of Michigan, using her summers off from teaching at Wiley College to work toward this advanced degree. Brown was on the faculty of the mathematics department of North Carolina Central University (1949-1979, and served as chair of the department (1951-1970).
- September 9, 1923 – Rosita Sokou born, Greek author, playwright, translator, and one of the first women journalists in Greece.
- September 9, 1926 – Louise Abeita Chewiwi (E-Yeh-Shure – ‘Blue Corn’) born; Isleta Pueblo writer, poet, and educator; her book of poems, I am a Pueblo Indian Girl, was published when she was 13 years old.
- September 9, 1926 – Annie Becker Kriegel born, French historian, a leading expert on the history of Communism; cofounder with Stéphane Courtois of the academic journal Communisme; columnist for Le Figaro newspaper.
- September 9, 1927 – Tatyana Zaslavskaya born, Russian economic sociologist, a theoretician of perestroika, and specialist in agriculture’s impact on economy and the sociology of the countryside; member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
- September 9, 1934 – Sonia Sanchez born as Wilsonia Driver, influential African American poet, author, activist, and a leading figure in the Black Arts Movement. She has published over a dozen books of poetry, short story collections, and children’s books. Sanchez received the Robert Frost Medal in 2001. She was involved in the Civil Rights Movement and supports the National Black United Front. She briefly joined the Nation of Islam in the 1970s, but left over the issue of women’s rights. She is an advocate for the rights of oppressed women and minorities. Sanchez was the first Poet Laureate of the city of Philadelphia (2012-2014).
- September 9, 1945 – Dr. Grace Hopper, mathematician and pioneering computer programmer, squirmed inside the Harvard Mark I computer, which took up an entire room, looking for what had caused it to malfunction. Using a flashlight, she found the cause, and with a pair of tweezers removed a moth which had been fried in a relay, causing a short circuit, which gave birth to the computer terms “bug” and “debugging.”
- September 9, 1969 – Natasha Stott Despoja born, Australian Democrats politician; Senator for South Australia (1995-2008), at age 26, she became the youngest woman to sit in the Parliament of Australia; Leader of the Australian Democrats (2001-2002). She didn’t stand for reelection to Parliament because of emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy and her frustration dealing with her party’s old guard (the party was formally deregistered in 2016 for not having sufficient members.) Despoja was later appointed as Ambassador of Australia for Women and Girls (2013-2016).
- September 9, 1972 – Natasha Kaplinsky born, English newsreader for Sky News (2000-2002), and BBC News (2002-2007); currently working for ITV as a newsreader and programme presenter.
- September 9, 2015 – Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning monarch in British history. On September 8, 2022, her reign ended, after 70 years of extraordinary service to her nation and the Commonwealth.
- September 9, 2019 – In an article posted in the journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), Karen M. Winkfield, MD, Ph.D. says about her internship: “Boston is a very diverse city with a large minority population of African Americans and Latino Americans, but the patient population at Harvard did not reflect that. During my second year of training, I went to the Boston City Hospital, and lo and behold, I saw patients of color in numbers that reflected the city’s makeup. I wondered why they weren’t accessing the wonderful medical resources at Harvard. And that was what began the other part of my career, focusing on health equity and access to care.” She was on the staff of Massachusetts General Hospital for several years, during which she helped develop the institution’s first comprehensive program in hematologic radiation oncology. “Along with that work, I felt it was important to engage the underserved minority communities and try to develop ways to improve access to quality care. I helped Mass General establish a program that explored methods to improve access to clinical trials and reduce disparities of care,” she declared. She became chair of the ASCO Health Disparities Committee, to address the needs of underserved minorities. She was recruited by Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for their Comprehensive Cancer Center. “My job as Director of the cancer health equity program is to make sure that everybody, no matter his or her race or financial status, has the same opportunity to be treated and cured of cancer. There are so many ways to improve cancer care among underserved communities, as long as we’re willing to partner with them and not be seen as an outside entity,” Dr. Winkfield declared.
- September 9, 2020 – Maggie O’Farrell’s novel Hamnett won the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction. The prize, founded in 1995, was a response to the failure of the Booker Prize to include any women writers on its shortlist in 1991. It rewards “excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women in English from across the world” and comes with an award of £30,000. Hamnett is based on the life and death from bubonic plague of William Shakespeare’s 11-year-old son, four years before Shakespeare wrote Hamlet.
- September 9, 2021 – Calling it “clearly unconstitutional,” the Biden administration sued the state of Texas over its extreme abortion law, which bans all abortions once the so-called “fetal heartbeat” is detected. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the law, that went into effect after the far right majority on the Supreme Court refused to block it, was one “all Americans should fear.” He added the Department of Justice would “protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services,” under a federal law known as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances. The DOJ will argue that the law, which offers no exceptions for rape or incest, “illegally interferes with federal interests.” The Texas law incentivizes any private citizen to sue an abortion provider or anyone deemed to have helped a women get an abortion contravening the law, in effect since September 1, 2021.
- September 10, 1758 – Hannah Webster Foster born, American novelist and advocate for women’s education; her best-seller The Coquette, or a History of Eliza Wharton, is a fictionalized version of the true story of Elizabeth Whitman, a young woman seduced by an unidentified suitor, who died after the still-born birth of her illegitimate child.
- September 10, 1793 – Harriet Arbuthnot born, English diarist, social observer, and Tory party political hostess; maintained a long intimate relationship and correspondence with the Duke of Wellington, and recorded details of their conversations in her diaries, which are now a key source for historians of the Regency and late Napoleonic eras, and for biographers of the Duke of Wellington. Her diaries were published in 1950 as The Journal of Mrs. Arbuthnot.
- September 10, 1801 – Marie Laveau the elder born, ‘Voodoo Queen’ of New Orleans, herbalist, and midwife. She was a free woman of color, with African, Native American, and French in her ancestry.
- September 10, 1852 – Alice Brown Davis born, first woman chief of the Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma; postmistress, business owner, Superintendent of the Seminole Nation’s school for girls.
- September 10, 1860 – Marianne von Werefkin born, Russian-Swiss painter, salon host, co-founder of artist groups in Munich and Switzerland, known for Expressionism.
- September 10, 1870 – Lilian S. Gibbs born, English botanist; educated at Swanley Horticultural College and in botany at the Royal College of Science. She organized botanical expeditions to some of the most remote places on Earth, including South Rhodesia in 1905, then Fiji, New Zealand, Queensland, and Tasmania in 1907. In 1910, she was the first woman known to reach the summit of Mount Kinabulu in Borneo, and contributed over 1,000 botanical specimens from that trip to the British Museum. Bambusa gibbsiae (Miss Gibbs's bamboo) is named for her. In 1912, she made a botanical trip to Iceland, and in 1913, to the East Indies and Dutch New Guinea.
- September 10, 1877 – Katherine S. Dreier born, artist, art patron, social reformer, and suffragist; co-founder with Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray of the Société Anonyme, the first major U.S. collection of modern art and sponsor of numerous exhibitions; her estate donated 28 works by important modern artists to the Guggenheim Foundation.
- September 10, 1880 – Laura Cornelius Kellogg born; Oneida leader, author, orator, and rights activist. She was an advocate for the sovereignty of the Six Nations of the Iroquois, and fought for communal tribal lands, tribal autonomy and self-government. Popularly known as "Indian Princess Wynnogene," Kellogg was the voice of the Oneidas and Haudenosaunee people in national and international forums. She and her husband Orrin pursued land claims in courts in New York on behalf of the Six Nations people, but were not able to win any cases. However, their efforts presaged 20th century movements by the Oneida Tribe and others which did have some success in reclaiming some tribal lands.
- September 10, 1880 – Georgia Douglas Johnson born in Atlanta, Georgia, but lived most of her life in Washington D.C.; African-American poet and playwright. In spite of never living in New York, she became an important contributor to the Harlem Renaissance. She wrote over two dozen plays, and published five volumes of poetry: The Heart of a Woman, Bronze, An Autumn Love Cycle, Share My World, and The Ordeal.
- September 10, 1882 – Fola Dodge La Follette born, woman’s suffrage and labor activist, and actress. She performed numerous times in Cicely Hamilton’s play How the Vote was Won, beginning in 1910. Anna Shaw, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, wrote La Follette, praising the play: "I had the pleasure of being present at the benefit performance of 'How the Vote was Won' ... and I have wanted ever since to express to you and the others who took part with you, my appreciation for the splendid help that play was to our cause." For suffragists, La Follette became the embodiment of how they wished to be portrayed. Her wry, gracious performances stood as contradiction to the cliché of the ugly man-hating spinster who was the butt of anti-suffrage jokes.
- September 10, 1886 – ‘H.D.’ born as Hilda Dolittle, American poet and novelist, known for avant-garde poetry; literary editor of The Egoist journal during WWI. She frequently used Greek mythology and insights from psychoanalysis in her work; now an icon for feminists and the LGBTQ+ Community.
- September 10, 1890 – Rose Finkelstein Norwood born in Russia, American labor organizer and powerful speaker in the Boston area. As a child in East Cambridge, Rose was bullied by Irish-American teens who yelled "Christ Killer" and threw bricks at her as she walked to school. During one attack she suffered a serious head wound. After one of the attackers was sent to prison, her family moved to a less hostile neighborhood. She led labor campaigns for telephone operators, garment and jewelry workers, boiler makers, library staffers, teachers, sales clerks, and laundry workers. When she organized workers at the Boston Public Library, it inspired her to start the Books for Workers program, in which public libraries provided books to union halls and factories. She was active in many labor and civil rights organizations, including the Boston Women's Trade Union League, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She served on the NAACP advisory board. Norwood was a vocal opponent of racism, fascism, and anti-Semitism, a lifelong supporter of women's rights and workers' education, and an advocate for the elderly. She was married to Hyman Norwood for 58 years, before her death from a heart attack just after her 90th birthday in 1980.
- September 10, 1898 – Elsa Schiaparelli born, Italian fashion designer, one of the most prominent designers between the World Wars, along with her biggest rival, Coco Chanel.
- September 10, 1907 – Dorothy Hill born, Australian geologist and palaeontologist; first woman professor at an Australian university, and first woman president of the Australian Academy of Science; she graduated in 1928 from the University of Queensland, with a First Class Honours degree in Geology, and the University’s Gold Medal for Outstanding Merit, then got her Master’s of Science in 1930. Since Australian universities didn’t begin awarding Ph.D.s until 1948, she went to Cambridge University in Great Britain. She was a Fellow of Newnham College and the Sedgwick Museum, and a series of fellowships and scholarships enabled her to continue at Cambridge until 1936. Notable for her studies of the limestone coral faunas of Australia, using them to outline wide-ranging stratigraphy, and of the first core drills of the Great Barrier Reef. After WWII, she served as secretary of the Great Barrier Reef Committee, raising money and arranging for building materials for the Heron Island Research Station. She was editor of The Journal of the Geological Society of Australia (1958-1964), and became the first woman President of the Professorial Board of the University of Queensland (1971- 1972). She was the author of over 100 research papers, and the comprehensive Bibliography and Index of Australian Paleozoic Coral, and a strong advocate for more women entering scientific fields. She died at age 89 in April 1997.
- September 10, 1926 – Beryl Cook born, self-taught British painter, OBE, noted for paintings of people enjoying themselves.
- September 10, 1935 – Mary Oliver born, prolific American poet and author. She won 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for American Primitive, and her collection, New and Selected Poems, won the 1992 National Book Award for Poetry. Among her many books are Dream Work, House of Light, Dog Songs, and Blue Horses.
- September 10, 1946 – Michèle Alliot-Marie born, French lawyer and politician, Member of the European Parliament for France since 2014; French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs (2010-2011); French Minister of Justice (2009-2010); Minister of the Interior (2007-2009); Minister of Defense (2002-2007); Member of the National Assembly (1978-2004).
- September 10, 1948 – Margaret Trudeau born, Canadian author; first woman who was the wife of a prime minister, her former husband Pierre Trudeau, and the mother of a prime minister, Justin Trudeau, in office since 2015. In 2006, she announced she has bipolar disorder, and became an advocate for eliminating the social stigma of mental disorders. She served as honorary president (2002-2017) of WaterAid Canada, which helps the poorest communities in developing countries build sustainable water supply and sanitation service. Beyond Reason and Changing My Mind are her memoirs.
- September 10, 1951 – Sarah Coakley born, English Anglican systematic theologian and philosopher of religion with interdisciplinary interests, including feminist theory and the philosophy of science; Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity (2007-2018) at the University of Cambridge.
- September 10, 1960 – Alison Bechdel born, American cartoonist; known for the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, her graphic memoir Fun Home, and the Bechdel-Wallace Test, which she uses to call attention to gender inequality, and evaluate the portrayal of women in fiction and films, by determining if at least two women talk to each other about something other than men – the requirement that both women must be named characters is sometimes added.
- September 10, 1970 – Neera Tanden born, President of the Center for American Progress (2011-2021), a public policy research and advocacy organization in Washington, DC. Since May 2023, she has been Director of the Domestic Policy Council in the Biden administration.
- September 10, 1982 – Misty Copeland born, first African American Principal Ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre. She, her mother, and her five siblings were living in two rooms in a motel when she began studying ballet at age 13, at a local Boys & Girls Club in California. She was invited to study at Cynthia Bradley’s ballet school on scholarship. Bradley had to pick her up from school because she had no other way to get to class. Within 3 months, she was en pointe. She won a scholarship at age 15, studied at the San Francisco Ballet, auditioned for American Ballet Theatre at age 17, and attended ABT’s 1999 and 2000 Summer programs. She joined the ABT Studio Company in 2001, and became a member of the Corps de ballet in 2001. By 2007, she was a soloist at ABT. Though she has had recurring stress fracture problems, including being sidelined for seven months after surgery in 2014, she has still risen with extraordinary speed from her first dance classes in 1995 to principal ballerina in a major company by 2015.
- September 10, 1996 – Walmart bans Sheryl Crow’s second album because of this lyric: “Watch out sister/Watch out brother/Watch our children as they kill each other/with a gun they bought at the Wal-Mart discount stores” in the song “Love is A Good Thing.”
- September 10, 2010 – U.S. Federal Judge Virginia Phillips rules that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for gays and lesbians in the U.S. military is unconstitutional, and “infringes the fundamental rights of United States service members ...” She issues an injunction to immediately halt enforcement of the policy.
- September 10, 2019 – Black women in the U.S. are starting new businesses at six times the national average, but Black women founders receive less than one percent of venture capital deals, and receive lower loan amounts at higher interest rates than other business founders. As of 2019, African-American women accounted for 50% of all women-owned businesses. But without the resources and networks necessary to grow those ventures, they find their businesses stuck at the micro level, and revenue disparity is increasing: in 2014, minority-owned businesses averaged $67,800 in revenue; by 2019 the average had dropped to $65,800, a decline of 3%. According to the annual State of Women-Owned Business Report commissioned by American Express, if revenues generated by minority women-owned firms matched those currently generated by all women-owned businesses, they would add four million new jobs and $981 billion in revenues to the U.S. economy.
- September 10, 2020 – French writer and feminist Pauline Harmange, age 25, published her first book, a treatise on men, in August 2020, when much of France is on summer holiday. She only expected to sell a couple of hundred copies to friends and readers of her blog. What she did not expect was a threat by the French gender equality ministry to take legal action to ban Moi les hommes, je les déteste (more literally, Me, the men, I detest them, but published in English as I Hate Men). Ralph Zurmély, an adviser to the ministry, wrote to Harmange’s publisher, “This book is obviously an ode to misandry (hatred of men), both in terms of the summary on your site and in reading its title. I would like to remind you that incitement to hatred on the basis of sex is a criminal offence! Consequently, I ask you to immediately remove this book from your catalogue under penalty of criminal prosecution.” Harmage said, “I was shocked. This man works for the secretary of state for equality between men and women, whose mission is to do something about sexual assaults and rapes. It seemed outrageous that he was more concerned about censoring a small feminist book instead of doing his job.” As she wrote in her essay, “Misandry exists only as a reaction to misogyny, which is at the root of systemic violence.” But his threat made her 96 page essay a hot property (the French ministry announced after the story hit the news that Zurmély had acted in his own initiative). The first 450 copies sold out, and so did the two reprints. Her publisher, Monstrograph, a “micropublisher” run by volunteers, was overwhelmed, and said it wouldn’t be reprinted unless a bigger publisher came to the rescue (the English translation is available in a Kindle edition at Amazon books). Harmange said, “I didn’t expect this. It’s been an enormous surprise. It’s the first time I’ve had a book come out. I wrote a novel but it was never published.” The book came out of a blog she wrote on misandry (man-hating). She opened with a quote from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar – “The trouble was, I hated the idea of serving men in any way” – and it explores whether women have good reason to hate men. “I am married to a man, who is great and really supports my writing. But in general I mistrust men I don’t know,” Harmange said. “I just don’t have confidence in them. This comes less from personal experience than from being an activist in a feminist organisation that helps the victims of rape and sexual assault for several years. I can state for a fact that the majority of aggressors are men.” She added: “If we are heterosexual we are encouraged to like men, but we should absolutely have the right not to like them. I realise this sounds like a violent sentiment, but I feel strongly we should be allowed to not love them as a whole and make exceptions for certain men.” The book says defending misandry is liberating and can create space for sorority and sisterhood. “What if women have good reasons to detest men? What if anger towards men is in fact a joyful and emancipating path when it is allowed to express itself?” Harmange wrote. She said the negative reaction which has been aimed at Moi les hommes, je les déteste was completely predictable. “Female and feminist voices aren’t always welcome among men.”
- September 10, 2021 – Negar Masumi, a police officer with 15 years of experience, was determined not to flee when the Taliban took control of her home province of Ghor in central Afghanistan. Then gunmen, calling themselves Taliban mujahideen, stormed Negar’s home. They took her husband and four of her sons into another room and tied them up. Then they beat Negar with their guns and shot her dead, according to a family member, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. Negar, who was eight months pregnant, had not believed she would be killed because of her job. “She didn’t listen to our warnings. Today we buried her bruised and torn body,” says her relative. The Taliban denied responsibility for her death and told local media that they were investigating the killing. However, Hassan Hakimi, a human rights activist from Ghor province, who has now left Afghanistan, heard reports that this is the Taliban’s new strategy to avoid responsibility. “The Taliban order their fighters to kill targets secretly and involve their Talib relatives.” That way, he says, the Taliban can argue that it was a family feud. Although the Taliban promised an amnesty for government and NGO workers, the targeted killing of government employees, especially women who worked for the Afghan security forces, is on the rise. In the past three months, at least four other female police officers apart from Negar Masumi were killed in Kandahar, Kapisa and Ghazni provinces. In August, after Ghazni province fell, two female police officers were abducted from Ghazni city and murdered by the Taliban, according to local media. At least 4,500 Afghan women served with the police between 2001 and 2021.
- September 11, 1318 — Eleanor of Lancaster born; she was married to her first husband at age 13. They had one son, born in 1340, but her husband died in 1342. She was then married in 1345 to Richard FitzAlan, 3rd Earl of Arundel, and she bore seven children, who all lived to adulthood. Eleanor died in 1372 at age 53. When FitzAlan died in 1376, the instructions in his will were that he should be buried "near to the tomb of Eleanor de Lancaster, my wife; and I desire that my tomb be no higher than hers, that no men at arms, horses, hearse, or other pomp, be used at my funeral, but only five torches . . . as was about the corpse of my wife, be allowed." Their memorial effigies in Chichester Cathedral are holding hands, and inspired Philip Larkin to write the poem, “An Arundel Tomb.”
- September 11, 1476 – Louise of Savoy born, French Duchess of Nemours, Angoulême, and Anjou; mother of King Francis I, served as Regent of France in 1515, 1525-1526, and in 1529 when her son was at war, and while he was held prisoner in Spain. Louise was the principal French negotiator for the Treaty of Cambrai with the Holy Roman Empire, called “the Ladies’ Peace” because it is signed by Louise of Savoy and the Empire’s negotiator, Margaret of Austria.
- September 11, 1762 – Joanna Baillie born, Scottish poet and dramatist known for Plays on the Passions (in three volumes) and Fugitive Verses. Baillie learned to read at age 10 when she was sent to boarding school, and the only performance she saw was a puppet show. When her father died in 1778, the family’s financial situation suffered. Her aunt, Anna Home Hunter, a leading Bluestocking (an educated, intellectual woman, originally a member of the Blue Stockings Society (1720-1800), often used derogatorily. ‘Bas bleu’ has the same meaning in French) held a salon in her home. Baillie was introduced to her aunt’s circle of friends, including Fanny Burney, Elizabeth Carter, Elizabeth Montagu, and Sir Walter Scott. Baillie studied playwrights and poets, then began writing while running her older brother’s household, until he married in 1791. She then lived with her mother and sister, often having to move, but exchanged letters with Walter Scott and others. After a period of poor health in her 70s, she recovered and continued writing until her death, at age 89, in 1851.
- September 11, 1806 – Juliette Magill Kinzie born, history writer, notable for including Native American legends and customs; Wau-Bun: The “Early Day” in the North West (when the ‘North West’ was Chicago).
- September 11, 1847 – Mary Watson Whitney born, astronomer; Maria Mitchell’s assistant; she became director of the Vassar Observatory (1888-1915) and professor of astronomy upon Mitchell’s retirement; like Mitchell, she championed education and professional careers in the sciences for women. She and her staff published 102 papers in major astronomical journals on comets, asteroids, variable stars, and using photographic plates to study and measure star clusters. By 1906, she was teaching pioneering classes in astrophysics and variable stars to 160 students. Whitney retired in 1910 at age 68 for health reasons.
- September 11, 1850 – Mary Elizabeth Lease born, American author, lecturer, fiery orator, suffragist, and populist; “Our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags ..."
- September 11, 1877 – Rosika B. Schwimmer born, Hungarian feminist and pacifist; organized the Association of Hungarian Women Clerks (1897), co-founder in 1904 of Feministák Egyesülete (Hungarian Feminist Association), on the board of the Hungarian Peace Society, and later Vice President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). She was Hungary’s first woman ambassador, to Switzerland.
- September 11, 1890 – Euphemia Haynes born, American mathematician and educator; in 1943, one of the first African American women to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, from the Catholic University of America in Washington DC.
- September 11, 1917 – Jessica Mitford born, British-born investigative journalist and political activist, author of The American Way of Death (1963), participated in trade-union marches.
- September 11, 1927 – Christine King Farris born, professor and author; active in the International Reading Association, the NAACP, and the SCLC; sister of Martin Luther King Jr.
- September 11, 1933 – Dame Margaret Wood Booth born, British lawyer and judge; third woman to be appointed as a High Court judge, in the Family Division; author of Parenting Matters.
- September 11, 1941 – Minnijean Brown-Trickey born, American civil rights activist, one of the ‘Little Rock Nine’ who desegregated Central High School in 1957; suspended for six days in December 1957 for dropping her tray in the cafeteria and splashing food on two white boys when other students were harassing her by pushing chairs in front of her in the aisle; in February 1958, two girls threw a purse filled with combination locks at her, and when she called them “white trash” she was immediately expelled. She went to Canada in the 1980s and 1990s to get degrees in social work, and became involved in First Nations activism while there. President Clinton appointed her as Deputy Assistant of the Department of the Interior for Workforce Diversity (1999-2001); among many honors, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Wolf Award.
- September 11, 1950 – Anne Dell born, Australian biochemist; Professor of Carbohydrate Biochemistry at Imperial College London; did studies of glycomics and carbohydrate structures that modify proteins, which opened up possible applications to learning how pathogens such as HIV are able to evade termination by the immune system, and led to the development of higher sensitivity mass spectroscopy techniques which allowed for the better studying of the structure of carbohydrates. Dell was awarded the 1986 Tate and Lyle Medal by the Royal Society of Chemistry, and appointed as Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2009.
- September 11, 1953 – Jani Allan born in London, South African journalist, columnist, and broadcaster; one of South Africa’s most widely-read columnists in the 1980s and 90s, working in South Africa and in London, she had a radio show on Cape Talk Radio (1996-2000), and was a speech writer for Mangosuthu Buthelezi (2000-2001).
- September 11, 1953 – Sarita Francis born, Monserrat civil servant and educator; currently Executive Director of the Monserrat National Trust. Territories Conservation Trust. She was the first woman deputy governor of Monserrat (2009-2011) and Acting Governor in March and April of 2011, from when the governor stepped down until his replacement arrived. Previously, she was vice principal of the Salem Campus of the Monserrat Secondary School. In 1994, she headed the UN Development Programme in Monserrat, and began to work for the Monserrat National Trust.
- September 11, 1955 – Sharon Lamb born, American psychologist and professor in the Department of Counseling and School Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s College of Education and Human Development; as a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), she was a co- author of the APA’s report on the sexualization of young girls; co-author with Lyn Mikel of Packaging girlhood: rescuing our daughters from marketers’ schemes, and Packaging boyhood: saving our sons from superheroes, slackers, and other media stereotypes.
- September 11, 1961 – Samina Raja born, Pakistani Urdu poet, writer, literary magazine editor, translator, and broadcaster; published 12 collections of poetry. She died in 2012 after a long struggle with cancer.
- September 11, 1964 – Damares Alves born, Brazilian attorney and politician; Senator for the Federal District since 2023; Minister of Women, Family and Human Rights (2019-2022); also a pastor of Foursquare Gospel Church. She worked as a legal adviser to the Brazilian National Congress from the 1990s until her 2019 ministerial appointment.
- September 11, 1970 – Taraji P. Henson born, American actress, co-starred role as Detective Jocelyn Carter on the CBS drama Person of Interest, and played Katherine Johnson in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. Supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the NOH8 Campaign, which advocates for the LGBT community. Henson appeared in print ads for PETA and a Public Service Announcement for NOH8.
- September 11, 1982 – Sviatiana Tsihanouskaya born, Belarusian human rights activist, educator, and leader of the Belarusian democratic movement. In the 2020 presidential election, she took over from her husband as the main opposition candidate when he was arrested two days after he announced his candidacy. There were wide-spread reports of election fraud, but when she filed a formal complaint with the Central Election Commission, she was detained for seven hours. Strongman Lukashenko declared himself the winner. Since August 2020, Tsihanouskaya has been President of the Coordination Council of Belarus, in exile in Poland with other members of the opposition.
- September 11, 2015 – Glenda Jackson, after winning two Oscars for performances in Women in Love and A Touch of Class, she left acting in 1992 to run for a seat in the House of Commons as a Labour candidate. As the MP for Hampstead and Kilburn (1992-2015), she rarely commented on show business. But five months after standing down from her constituency, she was acting again in a radio adaptation of the Les Rougon-Macquart by Émile Zola. She is disappointed by the dearth of roles for older women and an absence of lead roles for female characters: “What I’m seeing now is that actresses are complaining. We were complaining in exactly the same way 23 years ago, and even years before that. Where have been the remarkable new plays which have women as the driving engine as opposed to the adjunct for what is always, and inevitably, a male engine-driver? That hasn’t changed. That is what is deeply, deeply depressing. It was exactly the same when I was still earning my living in the theatre – and I have seen no improvement in that area at all.” She is all the more shocked by the lack of progress on stage and screen, given greater equality elsewhere in society. Jackson said she struggles to understand why writers, producers, and directors fail to realise the importance of portraying women in dramas. “It can’t be that they haven’t heard these cries of anguish rolling around for decades,” she says.
- September 11, 2019 – In Tbilisi, Georgian women at the sixth annual conference of the Women Councillors Forum of Georgia sought a greater say in economic and political issues. Participants called for municipal public services to pay more heed to the needs of women, like expanding childcare options, and better vocational training opportunities to help women succeed in the labor market. The event brought together women members of local councils from all regions of Georgia, as well as representatives of the Georgian Government, Parliament, civil society, and international organizations, to discuss opportunities arising from ongoing local governance reforms. They called for Georgian women to become more active in public life, and for gender parity at all levels of governance. “The voices of women are becoming louder at all levels of Georgia’s politics,” said Tamar Chugoshvili, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Chair of the Gender Equality Council. “The Women Councillors Forum is a powerful platform to help women play a more active role in local governance, ensuring meaningful gender equality in decision-making.”
- September 11, 2020 – In Ecatepec, Mexico, over two dozen masked women demanding justice for murdered women in cases that remain unsolved or even properly investigated, broke down a door and entered a government rights commission building, sprayed graffiti, then threw molotov cocktails at the building’s exterior. Thirteen women were arrested, but were later released after an outcry on social media about their rough treatment by police. Activists also occupied the country's federal human rights commission’s main office in Mexico City for several days. Intense media coverage of the protests helped reignite debate and spurred demonstrations in other cities across the country. In addition to the nearly 10 murders a day in Mexico classified as femicides, protesters focused on over 73,000 missing person reports, the majority of them women, still unresolved.
- September 11, 2021 – Happening, a film about a young student who becomes pregnant in the 1960s, won the Venice International Film Festival’s top honor, the Golden Lion. The film, based on the book by Annie Ernaux, was directed by Audrey Diwan, “I feel heard! I did this movie with my belly, my heart, my guts, and my head,” Diwan, who is French, called the film’s 22-year old French-Romanian star, Anamaria Vartolomei, up on to the stage with her to collect the prize. Two more films made by women took honors: Maggie Gyllenhaal won the top writing award for her screenplay for The Lost Daughter, which she adapted from an Elena Ferrante novel. The film was also Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut. The 1920s Western The Power of the Dog, with its highly praised performance from Benedict Cumberbatch, garnered the Silver Lion for Best Director for Jane Campion. Spanish actress Penelope Cruz won the Coppa Volpi (Best Actress) for Madres Paralelas.
- September 12, 1590 – María de Zayas y Sotomayor born, Spanish author during Spain’s Golden Age, a pioneer of literary feminism; Desengaños Amorosos (Disenchantments of Love), Novelas Amorosas y ejemplares (Amorous and Exemplary Novels).
- September 12, 1739 – Mary Bosanquet Fletcher born, Methodist preacher and philanthropist; she convinced John Wesley (a leader in the founding of Methodism) to allow women to preach publicly. She and preacher Sarah Crosby were the most popular women preachers of their day, and Mary Bosanquet Fletcher was honored by Methodists as “Mother in Israel.” She was co-founder of The Cedars, an orphanage for girls, in the East London area of Leytonstone, where they were taught manners, reading, writing, nursing, and domestic skills, under strict discipline, as well as receiving intensive religious instruction. Rising costs and concerns about poor air quality caused her to move to the orphanage to Cross Hall, in Morley, West Yorkshire, thinking to save costs as the staff grew their food, but their lack of farming experience made this venture less successful than she hoped. She closed Cross Hall (after finding places for the orphans) in 1782 because she got married. She and her husband then worked together running a school. She began preaching more like the male preachers, by quoting biblical texts, and continued to preach and lead classes up to a few months before her death.
- September 12, 1846 – Elizabeth Barrett elopes with Robert Browning.
- September 12, 1853 – Celestia Parrish born, American educator and pioneering woman in psychology. She overcame English-born psychologist E. B. Tichener’s prejudice against women, who allowed her to attend his class. She also persuaded him to correspond with her so she could better teach her students – later he submitted some of her papers to the America Journal of Psychology, after she founded the first psychology lab in the southern U.S. at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, VA. She left teaching at the Georgia State Normal School to become Georgia State Supervisor of Public Schools (1911-1918).
- September 12, 1859 – Florence Kelley born, social and political reformer, campaigned for a minimum wage, 8-hour workdays, and against child labor, sweatshops, and racial discrimination; a founding member of the NAACP.
- September 12, 1894 – Dorothy M. Wrinch born, English mathematician and biochemical theorist; she read mathematics at Girton College, Cambridge, and became a research student there in 1917. A founding member of the Biotheoretical Gathering in the 1930s, an inter-disciplinary group studying how proteins work. Known for her studies attempting to deduce protein structure using mathematical principles; her initial theory turned out to be wrong, but her experimental work with Irving Langmuir led to the principle of the Hydrophobic Effect being the driving force for protein folding.
- September 12, 1895 – Annie “Londonderry” Cohen Kopchovsky completed her bicycle trip around the world. It started badly in June, 1894, on a bicycle that weighed 42 pounds, far too heavy for her to manage. She agreed to use the last name “Londonderry” to avoid anti-Semitism, and to promote her first sponsor, the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Company. With a new, much lighter bike, and a change from the restrictive dress for women to bloomers, and later to a man’s riding suit, she re-started her arduous journey, and went on to collect the $10,000 prize. She faced thieves and many biking accidents because she had no brakes, and even continued with a broken wrist. Her article about her adventures launched her new career. She wrote, "I am a journalist and a 'new woman,' if that term means that I believe I can do anything that any man can do." However, newspapers identified her as “a wife and mother of three.”
- September 12, 1897 – Irène Joliot-Curie born, French physicist, co-recipient with Frédéric Joliot-Curie of the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of new radioactive elements and artificial radioactivity. In 1946, she became director of the Radium Institute in Paris, founded by her mother, Nobel laureate Marie Curie. She died of leukemia at age 58 because of her exposure to radiation.
- September 12, 1902 – Marya Zaturenska born in Ukraine, American author and lyric poet who won the 1938 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her book, Cold Morning Sky; she came to the U.S. with her family at age 8; as a teenager, she worked in a clothing factory during the day while attending high school classes at night, and won scholarships to attend college; published eight volumes of poetry, edited six poetry anthologies, and A History of American Poetry, 1900-1940.
- September 12, 1916 – After Adelina and Augusta Van Buren reached Los Angeles, California, completing their successful transcontinental motorcycle journey, they added to their mileage by continuing down the West Coast, through San Diego, to the U.S.-Mexican border. Reports in the leading motorcycling magazine of the day praised their Indian motorcycles but not the sisters, describing their arduous journey as a "vacation.” One newspaper even accused the sisters of using the pre-war national preparedness movement as an excellent excuse to escape their roles as housewives.
- September 12, 1917 – Han Suyin born as Rosalie Matilda Kuanghu Chou in China, Eurasian physician and author of novels in English and French set in East and Southeast Asia, as well as seven memoirs, beginning with her family’s life from 1885, and her life from birth through 1991. She also wrote historical studies of China, and the Chinese Communist Revolution. Best known for her novel, A Many-Splendoured Thing.
- September 12, 1922 – The Episcopal Church removes the word “obey” from the bride’s wedding vows. In 2012, they added a liturgy to prescribe what to do and say at a service of blessing for a same-sex union.
- September 12, 1928 – Muriel “Mickie” Siebert born, first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, joining the 1,365 male members of the exchange in 1967. (In 1870, sisters Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin were the first women to open a Wall Street brokerage firm.) Siebert was also head of one of the first women’s banks. Appointed by New York Governor Carey as Superintendent of Banks for New York State (1977-1980); co-author of Changing the Rules: Adventures of a Wall Street Maverick.
- September 12, 1934 – Nellie Wong born in Oakland, California, to Chinese immigrants; American poet, feminist, socialist, and member of the Women Writers Union while a student at San Francisco State University. She organized the feminist literary and performance group Unbound Feet with lesbian activist and writer Merle Woo. Wong also joined the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women, grassroots feminist activists. In 1983, she traveled to China on the first U.S. Women Writers Tour sponsored by the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association with Tillie Olsen, Alice Walker, and Paule Marshall. Wong taught poetry at Mills College (1983-1985), and was a frequent keynote speaker at national and regional conferences for feminist and anti-racist groups. Excerpts from two of her poems were permanently installed as plaques at public sites at the San Francisco Municipal Railway. Her poetry collections include Dreams in Harrison Railroad Park, The Death of Long Steam Lady, Stolen Moments, and Breakfast Lunch Dinner. She was in the 1981 documentary film with Mitsuye Yamada called Mitsuye & Nellie, Asian American Poets.
- September 12, 1950 – Marguerite Blais born, French Canadian Quebec Liberal politician, journalist, and media host; Member of the Quebec National Assembly for Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne (2007-2015); president of Conseil de la famille et de l’enfance (2003-2007); advocate for the deaf community and persons with hearing disabilities.
- September 12, 1953 – Fiona Mactaggart born, British Labour politician, teacher, feminist, and activist; appointed in 2018 as Chair of Agenda, an alliance for women and girls at risk. Member of Parliament for Slough (1997-2017); primary school teacher (1987-1992); General Secretary of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (1982-1987).
- September 12, 1973 – Tarana Burke born, African-American civil rights activist who started the ‘Me Too’ movement in 2006, which was the inspiration for #MeToo after the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal launched dozens of revelations of cases of sexual abuse and harassment; she is Senior Director at Girls for Gender Equity; honored as one of “the silence breakers” named collectively by TIME Magazine as its 2017 ‘Person’ of the Year.
- September 12, 1973 – Kara David born, Filipina journalist and television host; news anchor of News to Go at GMA News TV, and host-writer for the i-Witness documentary series. Founder and president of the Project Malasakit foundation, aiding people in remote communities and sending poor children to school; in 2010, she was the second person from the Philippines to win a Peabody Award, for her documentary Ambulansyang de Paa (Ambulance on Foot).
- September 12, 1974 – Caroline Aigle born, French aviator; in 1999, she was the first woman in the French Air Force to receive fighter pilot wings, assigned to the Mirage 2000-5 in the escadron 2/2 "Côte-d'Or" in 2000, then promoted to the rank of Commandant (similar to Major in the U.S Air Force) in 2005. She was among the top candidates in 2007 under consideration to become an astronaut for the European Space Agency, but was diagnosed with cancer and died a month later, at age 32; posthumously awarded the Médaille de l'Aéronautique (Aeronautics Medal).
- September 12, 1981 – Jennifer Hudson born, African American singer and actress; made her film debut in Dreamgirls, and won the 2007 Best Supporting Actress Oscar. In 2008, her mother, brother and nephew were killed by her sister’s estranged husband. The Hudson family started The Hudson-King Foundation for Families of Slain Victims, and she co-founded with her sister the Julian D. King Gift Foundation, named for her nephew, providing Christmas presents and school supplies to families in need in the Chicago area.
- September 12, 1992 – Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman in space, as payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Endeavor. Also onboard are Mission Specialist N. Jan Davis and Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mark C. Lee, the first married couple to fly together in space, and Mamoru Mohri, the first Japanese person to fly into space.
- September 12, 2002 – Police Woman’s Day is launched to honor members of the International Association of Women Police (IAWP).
- September 12, 2019 – After the third Democratic Presidential Debate, women’s rights activists and several candidates for the Democratic nomination criticized the continued lack of questions about the threat to abortion rights, the gender pay gap, and two-paycheck family issues like paid parental leave and affordable childcare. California Senator Kamala Harris said, “... yet again, women’s access to reproductive health care is under full attack” and “should have been brought up last night – it wasn’t.” Former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke also noted the absence, as well as Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Christina Reynolds of EMILY’s List, which works to elect Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights, said “We have moved beyond the point when it’s enough for a candidate to say they are pro-choice. Women deserve to hear from presidential candidates the specific ways in which they will protect Roe v. Wade and our rights. There are real differences in both the records and plans for these candidates and it’s time we discuss it more directly.” 57% of American say abortion should be legal in most cases, while 42% want abortion banned in all or most cases, according to an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll in May 2019. Among Democrats, about 75% think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
- September 12, 2020 – Fawzia Koofi was one of only four women taking part in negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban after the U.S. reached an agreement on withdrawing U.S. troops in February 2020. Her arm was still in a sling because she was wounded during an assassination attempt in mid-August 2020, the second attempt on her life. The first was an attempt in 2010 by the Taliban. She is one of the most outspoken critics of the Taliban, who denied any involvement in the 2020 attack, but no one has claimed responsibility. Koofi said in an interview: “It is difficult on some occasions to digest some of the memories, but we have a proverb that says — you cannot wash blood with another blood, you need water to wash blood. So we really need to pour a lot of water to clean up all the blood that has been shed in this country for decades. We need to listen to the victims of war. This is the core issue for the negotiation team, at least for me personally, because I too have been a victim of this war. My right hand still does not work properly. But I have also lost my father, brothers, my family members, like many other people in Afghanistan.” Koofi is one of only a handful of women who have had any part in dialogue with the hard-line Islamist group, which ruled Afghanistan until they were removed from power by a US-led invasion in 2001. Afghan women activists have warned their hard-won rights must not be traded away. Under Taliban rule, women were barred from education and most work outside the home. While insurgent leaders have promised to respect women’s rights under Islam, they have refused to spell out what that might mean in daily life. Less than a year later, in 2021, as the Taliban swept across Afghanistan, reports emerged of women in newly captured territory being forced to marry fighters, being publicly flogged, and forced to stay at home. On the night of August 30, 2021, Fawzia Koofi boarded one of the last evacuation flights to Qatar despite being under house arrest by orders of the Taliban militants, in control of Afghanistan again. “It is heartbreaking to see how everything has collapsed,” Koofi said in a radio interview the following day.
- September 12, 2021 – In the UK, 665 general practitioners, nurses, and social, youth, and outreach workers signed a letter to the Home Secretary warning that the proposed “Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill” is “oppressive” and would force frontline professionals to betray the trust of vulnerable people and become complicit in surveillance. Signatories are “appalled” by the proposals, which they believe “directly conflict with our duties and will actively put people we work with in harm’s way … [T]his bill will hinder our ability as frontline workers to effectively support the people with whom we work by eroding relationships of trust and duties of confidentiality. Most importantly, it will expand the criminalisation, surveillance, and punishment of already overpoliced communities. A separate report specifically said the bill would put vulnerable young women at further risk of threat, more violence, abuse, and exploitation. The government wants to put a statutory duty on public agencies, such as healthcare and education providers, to reduce and prevent serious violence by disclosing information on service users. The bill also proposes to increase the sentence length for assaults on emergency workers from 12 months to two years, but a report by Agenda, the alliance for women and girls at risk, and the Alliance for Youth Justice said assaults on emergency workers already make up 17% of total offences leading to prison sentences for black young women aged 18-24, compared with 6% for their white counterparts. The experts also warned in their letter that the proposed serious violence reduction orders will give police an “individualised, suspicionless” stop and search power with minimal safeguards, with people likely to face “intrusive monitoring”. The report says young women coerced in relationships or experiencing criminal exploitation could face up to two years’ imprisonment because they “ought to have known” someone in their company was in possession of drugs or weapons. Pippa Goodfellow, director of the Alliance for Youth Justice, spoke of the additional problems faced because of Covid-19, and added, “It is vital that systems and services work together to meet these growing and emerging needs, whilst standing firmly against punitive measures that will criminalise those most in need of support,” A petition opposing the bill’s proposals was signed by almost 600,000 people, while more than 30,000 people have written directly to the prime minister to object.
- September 13, 1819 – Lucy Goode Brooks born as a slave in Virginia, American charity organizer. Daughter of Judith Goode, an enslaved woman, and an unnamed white man, Lucy learned to read and write. When she met Albert Royal Brooks, the slave of a different owner, she taught him to write so they could write passes that would enable them to see each other. When her master died in 1838, she became the property of another man, who allowed her to marry Albert, and live with him. Albert ran a livery stable for his owner, and was permitted to keep his additional earnings so he could buy his freedom. When Lucy’s second owner died in 1858, his heirs wanted to sell her and her children to different masters, but the merchant who bought most of her children allowed them to live with her as long as they showed up every day for work. but Lucy’s daughter was sold away to Tennessee. The Brookes worked hard to earn their freedom, and the freedom of their three youngest boys, but the oldest three boys were not freed until the end of the Civil War. The loss of her daughter and an infant son sold away earlier made Lucy Brooks decide to help children separated from their parents. With the support of her Ladies Sewing Circle for Charitable Work and a Quaker congregation, she founded the Friends’ Asylum for Colored Orphans, which opened its doors in 1867. It became the Friends Association for Children, which currently provides childcare and family support services for low-income families. Lucy Brooks died in 1900, at age 82.
- September 13, 1819 – Clara Schumann born, German composer (‘Three Romances for Violin & Piano’) and pianist; she gave the first public performances of several works by Johannes Brahms.
- September 13, 1830 – Baroness Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach born, Austrian novelist, highly regarded German-language author of the 19th century; Božena; Das Waldfraulein (The Forest Maiden); Das Gemeindekind (The Parish Child).
- September 13, 1844 – Ann Webb Young born, one of LDS President Brigham Young’s many wives, who filed for divorce on grounds of cruelty, neglect, and abandonment. She was excommunicated from the LDS Church in 1874, and her divorce was final in 1875. She went on the lecture circuit, speaking against polygamy and Mormonism, and testified before Congress during debates prior to passage of the Poland (anti-polygamy enforcement) Act. Author of Wife No. 19, or The Story of a Life in Bondage.
- September 13, 1865 – Maud Ballington Booth born in England as Maud Charlesworth; Salvation Army leader in America, co-founder of the Volunteers of America, and advocate for improving prison conditions.
- September 13, 1888 – ‘Melli’ Amelie Beese born, early German aviator and sculptor; she left Germany to study sculpting at the Royal Academy in Stockholm because German art schools did not admit female students; returning home, she studied mathematics, ship building. and aeronautical engineering, and with difficulty found some aviators who would instruct a woman in flying; she was the first woman pilot in Germany to participate in a flight display on her birthday, September 13, 1911. Beese opened a flying school the following year, designed and patented a collapsible aircraft, and worked with her future husband, Charles Boutard, on a flying boat design. But when they married in 1913, she became a French citizen, and they were arrested during WWI as “undesirable aliens.” Charles was interned, and their goods were confiscated. After the war, they filed suit to recover their property, but the case dragged on, and German hyper-inflation greatly decreased its value. The marriage deteriorated, and they separated. In 1925, she crashed the aeroplane she was flying when she reapplied for her pilot’s license. Three days before Christmas that year, at age 39, she shot herself.
- September 13, 1917 – Carol Kendall born, American historian and author of folk tale stories for children; her book The Gammage Cup was a 1960 Newbery Honor Book.
- September 13, 1919 – Mary Midgley born, British philosopher, advocate for science, ethics and animal rights, author of many books, including her autobiography The Owl of Minerva.
- September 13, 1922 – Caroline Duby Glassman born, American attorney and the first woman to serve as an Associate Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court (1983-1997).
- September 13, 1931 – Marjorie Jackson-Nelson born, Australian sprinter who won two Olympic Gold Medals, and held six world records; she was Governor of South Australia (2001-2007); Member of the Order of the British Empire (1953), and Companion of the Order of Australia (2001).
- September 13, 1933 – Elizabeth McCombs, Labour Party member becomes the first woman elected to New Zealand’s Parliament (1933-1935).
- September 13, 1938 – Judith Martin born, aka Miss Manners, American etiquette expert, journalist, and author of over a dozen ‘Miss Manners’ books, beginning with Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior.
- September 13, 1943 – Mildred DeLois Taylor born, African-American author known for books on the struggles of Black families in the Deep South; known for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and The Road to Memphis.
- September 13, 1944 – Carol Barnes born, British television newsreader and broadcaster; began her media career at Time Out Magazine, then moved to Independent Radio News, and became a reporter for BBC Radio 4. She worked for ITN (1975-2004), then became a presenter on Channel 4 Daily, and News at Ten. In 2008, she suffered a massive stroke that left her in a coma, and died four days later.
- September 13, 1948 – Margaret Chase Smith elected as a U.S. Senator, the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress. She was a moderate Republican with a streak of independence, the first woman elected to either House from the state of Maine. She served in the House of Representatives (1940-1949) and as U.S. Senator (1949-1973). Chase Smith was the first member of Congress to go on record criticizing McCarthy’s witch-hunting tactics in her 1950 speech, "Declaration of Conscience." In 1964, she was the first woman placed in nomination for the presidency at a major party’s convention, placing fifth in the first balloting. She is still the current record-holder as the longest-serving Republican woman in the U.S. Senate. Senator Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat, holds the record for longest-serving woman.
- September 13, 1951 – Anne Devlin born, Irish author, playwright, and screenwriter; noted for Ourselves Alone, After Easter, and The Forgotten.
- September 13, 1956 – Anne Geddes born in Australia; photographer noted for baby photography shooting infants in arrangements of fruits and flowers; she is the founder of the Geddes Philanthropic Trust, which raises awareness of child abuse and neglect.
- September 13, 1957 – Dame Eleanor Warwick King born, British judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales since 2014.
- September 13, 1957 – Tatyana Mitkova born, Russian broadcast journalist who refused to read the official Soviet Union version of the military response to the 1991 uprising in Lithuania; won 1991 International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists.
- September 13, 1965 – Annie Duke born, American professional poker player and author, dubbed the “Duchess of Poker.” Won a World Series of Poker gold bracelet in 2004, and was the leading women’s money winner until Vanessa Selbst took that title in 2013. Author of instructional books on poker, and an autobiography, How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won Millions at the World Series of Poker. She is co-founder with actor Don Cheadle of the non-profit Ante Up for Africa, which benefits charities working in African nations. She frequently hosts and plays in poker tournaments for charity.
- September 13, 1983 – Molly Crabapple born as Jennifer Caban, American artist and writer; author of Drawing Blood, and co-author with Marwan Hisham of Brothers of the Gun. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Paris Review, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, and The New Yorker. Some of her art is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art. Crabapple’s animated short A Message from the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was nominated for an Emmy award for Outstanding News Analysis: Editorial and Opinion.
- September 13, 1995 – Beverley Palesa Ditsie addressed the UN at the Beijing Women’s Conference about the importance of including lesbian rights in discussions about the empowerment and uplifting of women. Ditsie was the first person and first openly lesbian woman to address the issue of protecting the rights of LGBTQ people at a UN conference. She was born in Soweto in 1971 during the height of Apartheid, and was an anti-Apartheid and LGBTQ rights activist, a founding member of GLOW, South Africa’s first multiracial and political lesbian and gay rights group. During the drafting of South Africa’s constitution, she was at the forefront arguing for protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. South Africa became the first nation in the world to include such a protection in its constitution.
- September 13, 2019 – In Kenya, a 14-year-old schoolgirl committed suicide after a teacher allegedly shamed her, because her clothes were stained when her period started during class. The teacher called her “dirty” and expelled her from class. Her mother said it was her first period, and she did not have a sanitary pad. Access to menstrual products is a huge problem across sub-Saharan Africa, where an inability to afford sanitary products prompts many girls to avoid school during their periods. A 2014 UNESCO report estimated that one in 10 girls miss school during menstruation, which means they miss out on 20% of their schooling each year. A 2017 law requires Kenya’s government to distribute free sanitary pads to all schoolgirls, but poor implementation of the law and lack of funding have hampered distribution, and is now the subject of a parliamentary investigation. Kenya’s women MPs “laid siege” to the education ministry to protest about the girl’s death and discuss the programme. MP Esther Passaris wrote on Twitter: “We had a candid discussion about sanitary towels, the little girl who died, and the investigation that is ensuing,” she added. “We need to make it so that girls aren’t ashamed of their periods, and I don’t think we’ve won that battle yet.”
- September 13, 2020 – Tamara Munzner and her colleagues Stephen Kasica and Charles Berret presented a video talk on Table Scraps: An Actionable Framework for Multi-Table DataWrangling From An Artifact Study of Computational Journalism. It was designed to analyze the problems that journalists encounter when using data and computation to report the news, dubbed “data wrangling,” and explain the framework they developed for making this process easier and faster. Munzner is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia and holds a PhD from Stanford. Active in visualization research since 1991, she has published over 80 papers, and co-chaired InfoVis and EuroVis. Her book Visualization Analysis and Design appeared in 2014, and she received the IEEE VGTC Visualization Technical Achievement Award in 2015. She is co-editor of the AK Peters Visualization book series from CRC/Routledge, and has worked on problem-driven visualization in many domains ranging from genomic to e-commerce to journalism. Her technique-driven visualization interests include graph drawing and dimensionality reduction. Her evaluation interests include controlled experiments in a laboratory setting and qualitative studies in the field.
- September 13, 2020 – Ann Francke, Chartered Management Institute (CMI) chief executive, warned that the government’s plan to push the British back into the office risks a return to “white middle-aged males” making the important decisions, while women and people from ethnic minorities are excluded at home. “The risk is when we go back into the office, the people that go back will be the senior leaders. And we know that those senior leaders are largely white men,” said Francke. “That will reinforce the kind of exclusionary, lack of diverse culture at the top of organisations. I think that would be a very dangerous step backwards.” Recent polling revealed that two in five mothers do not have the childcare they need to return to the office as some nurseries, childminders, and wraparound care remains unavailable, while research shows that women are more likely to do extra childcare. CMI’s most recent survey of managers carried out in August 2020 found that 74% of managers cited the risk of contracting coronavirus as employees’ most common concern, while a previous survey found that 91% of managers said “blended working” – a mixture of remote and office working – motivated them, while 85% said it made them more productive, and 77% said it made them more satisfied. Nearly half of the managers (42%) believe a lack of childcare caused by the pandemic will have negative impacts for female employees, while only 20% believe it will be a problem for men.
- September 13, 2021 – In the wake of a new law banning nearly all abortions in Texas, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and members of Illinois’ congressional delegation vowed to protect women’s rights while calling for a federal reproductive health law. “Nobody should be forced to cross state lines to see a doctor,” Pritzker said. “The latest extremist attacks on reproductive health prove we need a federal law to protect a woman’s right to control their own health care.” In 2019, Pritzker signed the Reproductive Health Act into law. In addition to codifying the right to abortions and birth control in Illinois, the act takes references to abortions out of Illinois’ criminal code and requires insurers to cover the procedure. U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood (IL-14th) condemned the Texas law and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow it to remain in place, saying it puts the rights of millions at risk across the country. She said Congress must take action to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, “a federal bill that will protect the freedom to make personal decisions about reproductive health care from politicians who wish to control it, so that nobody is denied access to basic health care just because of the state that they live in.” The act passed in the U.S. House in September, 2021, but in February, 2022, it failed to pass in the Senate because it didn’t get the 60 votes needed to overcome the Republican filibuster.
- September 14, 1401 – Maria of Castile born, Queen of Aragon; though her health was delicate (she may have had epilepsy), she survived smallpox, but was left with permanent scars. Betrothed at age seven to Alfonso V of Aragon, they were married when she was 14, but her menstrual cycle did not begin until she was 16, so the consummation of the marriage was delayed, and she bore no children. The marriage was not a happy one, especially after she learned that her husband’s mistress had given birth to a son. Maria acted as regent twice, from 1420 to 1423, and then from 1432 to until her husband’s death in 1458, while Alfonso was off pursuing his claim to the throne of Naples, which he secured for his illegitimate son. Maria was left as de facto ruler to deal with frequent family squabbles between her brothers-in-law, and conflicts with burghers and peasants. When Alfonso lost the naval Battle of Ponza in 1435, he was captured, and Maria organized the funds to pay his ransom. Alfonso died in June 1458, but was quickly followed by Maria in September 1458.
- September 14, 1728 – Mercy Otis Warren born, American Revolutionary political writer and propagandist. In 1805, she published one of first histories of the American Revolution, a three-volume History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution. In the 18th century, history, politics, and war were thought to be the province of men. Few men and fewer women had the education or training to write about these subjects. Warren was an exception. Although she had no formal education, she studied with the Reverend Jonathan Russell while he tutored her brothers Joseph and James in preparation for Harvard College. She married James Warren in 1754, and gave birth to five sons. Her husband was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and later became speaker of the House and President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. The Warrens were increasingly involved in the conflict between the American colonies and the British Government. Their Plymouth home was a meeting place for local politics, and for revolutionaries, including the Sons of Liberty. Mercy Warren was drawn to political activism, and hosted protest meetings in her home. She regularly corresponded with Abigail Adams, John Adams, and Martha Washington. With help from her friend Samuel Adams, the meetings and letters laid the foundation for the Committees of Correspondence. She later wrote "no single step contributed so much to cement the union of the colonies." Mercy was a strong political voice with views on liberty, republican government, and independence for the American colonies. She wrote, "Every domestic enjoyment depends on the unimpaired possession of civil and religious liberty." Mercy's husband James encouraged her to write, fondly referring to her as the "scribbler" and she became his chief correspondent and sounding board. During the years before the American Revolution, Warren published poems and plays attacking royal authority in Massachusetts and urged colonists to resist British infringements on colonial rights and liberties. James Warren would serve as paymaster to George Washington's army for a time during the war. At the height of the debate over the United States Constitution in 1788, Mercy Warren issued a pamphlet, Observations on the new Constitution, and on the Federal and State Conventions, using the pseudonym "A Columbian Patriot," that opposed ratification of the document, and advocated for the inclusion of a Bill of Rights. Observations was long thought to be the work of other writers, most notably Elbridge Gerry. It was not until her descendant, Charles Warren, found a reference to it in a 1787 letter to British historian Catharine Macaulay that Warren was credited as the author. In 1790, she published a collection of poems and plays under her own name, highly unusual for a woman at the time. When she published her three-volume History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution, not only was it the first history of the American Revolution written by a woman, and an eye-witness to the events, but also a person who played a part in them.
- September 14, 1816 – Mary Hall Barrett Adams born, American book editor and letter writer; as a teenager, she taught Sunday school at a Universalist church; her parents, a brother, and a sister all died of consumption (tuberculosis), and she nursed them devotedly, injuring her own health. She married John Greenleaf Adams in 1839, and edited the Sabbath-School Annual for three years, persuading well-known Universalist authors to contribute to the annual, before her health further declined and she wasn’t able to continue. She died in 1860. The Memoir of Mrs. Mary H. Adams was published after her death.
- September 14, 1830 – Emily Edson Briggs born, first woman White House correspondent – during Lincoln’s administration, and first president of the Women’s National Press Association (1882).
- September 14, 1843 – Lola Rodríguez de Tió born, Puerto Rican poet, abolitionist, and women's rights activist. In 1863, she married Bonocio Tió Segarra, became a writer and book importer, and published her first book of poetry, Mis Cantos (My Songs). She and her husband were banished twice for their political activities and writings urging Puerto Rican independence from Spain. They lived in Venezuela and New York before settling in Cuba. In 1901, she was a co-founding member of the Cuban Academy of Arts and Letters, and also served as an inspector of schools. Their home was a gathering place for Cuban intellectuals and politicians, and for Puerto Rican exiles. She died in Havana at age 81, leaving a legacy of books and patriotic poetry, including new revolutionary lyrics for the song "La Boriqueña." In 2014, she was one of 12 Puerto Rican women honored with plaques in La Plaza en Honor a la Mujer Puertorriqueña (Plaza in Honor of Puerto Rican Women) in San Juan.
- September 14, 1857 – Alice Stone Blackwell born, suffragist, journalist, socialist, and human rights activist; daughter of suffragist Lucy Stone (who had pioneered keeping her maiden name after marriage), and Henry Blackwell, abolitionist and advocate for women’s equality and suffrage. Alice worked for the Woman’s Journal, started by her parents, became an editor, and assumed sole editing responsibilities after her mother’s death in 1893. In 1890, she helped reconcile the American Woman Suffrage Association and the National Woman Suffrage Association, so they merged into the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). She served as NAWSA’s recording secretary (1890-1908). In the 1890s, she became a supporter of the Armenian refugee community, and translated works by Armenian poets, published as Armenian Poetry, in two volumes. Stone Blackwell was president of both the New England and Massachusetts Woman Suffrage associations, and honorary president of the Massachusetts League of Women Voters. Late in life she went blind, but lived to the age of 92, dying in 1950.
- September 14, 1857 – Julia Barlow Platt born, American embryologist and politician; graduated from the University of Vermont in 1887, then did research at the Harvard Annex, founded in 1879, which was the only access for women to Harvard at the time. She was one of several women challenging the university’s anti-coeducational policies. Platt had to get her doctorate at the University of Freiburg in Germany; her major contribution to science, demonstrating that neural crest cells formed the jaw cartilage and tooth dentine in Necturus maculosus (mudpuppy embryos), was not believed by her contemporaries because it ran counter to the belief that only mesoderm could form bones and cartilage. Her hypothesis of the neural crest origin of the cranial skeleton gained acceptance only some 50 years later when confirmed by Sven Hörstadius and Sven Sellman. Unable to secure a university position, she became a political activist in California, an advocate for maintaining beach access for the public, and for a marine protected area, which became crucial to the recovery of the sea otter. In 1931, she was elected mayor of Pacific Grove, California.
- September 14, 1879 – Margaret Sanger born, American birth control activist, sex educator, and nurse; popularized the term “birth control,” and opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. She also established organizations that evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
- September 14, 1882 – Winnifred Mason Huck born, investigative journalist exposing abuses in the prison system; also a politician, third woman to be elected to the US Congress (R-IL 1922-1923) in a special election to finish her father’s term after his sudden death.
- September 14, 1885 – María Grever born, Mexican composer, first Mexican woman composer given international recognition and acclaim; best known for the song "Cuando vuelva a tu lado" which became a hit with English lyrics as "What A Difference A Day Makes" in 1934. It was a hit again when Dinah Washington made a Grammy-winning recording of the English-language version in 1959.
- September 14, 1897 – Margaret Rudkin born, founder of Pepperidge Farm Foods in 1937, known for its ‘Distinctive Cookies’ and crackers, which became a subsidiary of the Campbell Soup Company in 1961. She started baking because her son suffered from asthma and food allergies, and her son’s doctor then recommended her baked goods to his other patients.
- September 14, 1902 – Alice Tully born, American operatic soprano, music promoter and philanthropist; on the boards for the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Juilliard School; recipient of the Handel Medallion.
- September 14, 1914 – Mae Boren Axton born, American songwriter, best known as co-writer with Tommy Durden of “Heartbreak Hotel.” Singer and songwriter Hoyt Axton was her son.
- September 14, 1921 – Constance Baker Motley born, American lawyer, judge, politician, and civil rights activist. The first woman attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, she wrote the original complaint in Brown v. Board of Education. She was the first African American woman to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the first appointed as a federal court judge. Recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, and the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP.
- September 14, 1930 – Romola Constantino born, Australian pianist; gave the inaugural solo piano recital at the Sydney Opera House in 1973; she was also a music critic for the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, and a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney; appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1978.
- September 14, 1934 – Sarah Kofman born, French philosopher, author, and educator, wrote books on Nietzsche and Freud.
- September 14, 1934 – Kate Millet born, American author, artist, feminist, and activist, known for her book Sexual Politics; advocate for women’s rights and mental healthcare reform.
- September 14, 1941 – Joan Trumpauer Mulholland born, American civil rights activist, a white woman from Virginia whose activism as a student at Duke University was regarded as some form of mental illness, and she was taken for testing after her first arrest. She dropped out of Duke, and was one of the Freedom Riders on the Illinois Central train from New Orleans to Jackson, Mississippi, where they were arrested. Incarcerated at Parchman Penitentiary, a prison with a reputation for violence, and the disappearance of several inmates, she and the other women were strip-searched and given vaginal exams. They were housed for two months on death row, in a segregated cell with 17 women and 3 feet of floor space per prisoner. She refused to pay bail and served more than her two month sentence because each day in prison took $3 off her fine of $200. She was the first white student at Tougaloo College in Jackson. Several attempts were made by local authorities to close down the school, but its charter predated the Jim Crow laws. On May 28, 1963, she was part of the Woolworth lunch counter sit-in, where activists were beaten and smeared with condiments. She was called a “white nigger” and dragged out of the store by her hair.
- September 14, 1955 – Geraldine Brooks born, Australian American journalist and novelist. Her 2005 novel March won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; working as a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal inspired her first book, the non-fiction Nine Parts of Desire.
- September 14, 1962 – Bonnie Jo Campbell born, American novelist and short story writer; Once Upon a River and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters.
- September 14, 1964 – Helen Keller, Dr. Lena Edwards, Lynn Fontanne, Dr. Helen Taussig, and Leontyne Price receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- September 14, 1965 – Emily Bell born, British journalist and academic; Professor of Professional Practice at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism who previously worked for The Guardian and The Observer.
- September 14, 1983 – Amy Winehouse born, English singer-songwriter known for mixing musical genres. Her album Back to Back became one of the best-selling albums in UK music history. In 2008, Winehouse set a record for a female artist up to that year by winning five Grammys, including Record of the Year. But she was plagued by drug and alcohol addiction, and died of an alcohol overdose at age 27 in 2011.
- September 14, 2016 – Russian Hackers stole World Anti-Doping Agency files, targeting U.S. women athletes by posting their confidential information, including tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams, basketball player Elena Delle Donne, and gymnastics Olympian Simone Biles. Biles, who won four gold medals in Rio, tested positive for substances normally banned but had exemptions allowing her to use them to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Biles said ADHD is "nothing to be ashamed of" and that she "always followed the rules."
- September 14, 2019 – Max Stier, a former Yale University classmate of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, reportedly notified senators and the FBI during the justice's confirmation process in 2018 about a previously unreported sexual misconduct allegation involving the justice when he was a Yale student. Stier reportedly said he saw Kavanaugh, a freshman at the time, at a drunken dorm party with his pants down when his friends then pushed his penis into a female student's hands. It is unclear if Stier knew the female student, or if she verified the incident as described. The FBI reportedly did not investigate the allegation, and Stier declined to speak about it publicly, but The New York Times reports it corroborated the story with two officials who communicated with Stier. Kavanaugh faced multiple accusations of sexual misconduct during his confirmation process, most notably in testimony by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, professor of psychology. Her testimony cost her dearly, since Blasey Ford has been unable assume teaching since coming forward with allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. She received a number of death threats, and has continued to be harassed and threatened. She and her family have been forced to move four times, and to hire private security for protection.
- September 14, 2020 – Nina Stibbe won the 2020 Comedy Women In Print prize for her novel Reasons to Be Cheerful about a teenage dental assistant. The £3,000 prize was established in 2018 by comedian and author Helen Lederer, who was inspired by sexism accusations spearheaded by author Marian Keyes because the Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction had only been won by three women in 18 years. Lederer declared that “more needs to be done to celebrate the achievements of women excelling in this field.” Keyes, now chair of the judges for the Comedy Women in Print prize, said Stibbe has “an instinctive comedic touch.” Stibbe was delighted to win the prize: “We [the shortlisted authors] were all aware that the prize comes from this cry of anguish from both Marian and Helen. So it feels great to win,” she said. “It’s not just the winning – you know that just by being longlisted that you’re being mulled over and discussed and read by [judges] Marian, Helen, Joanna Scanlan, Lolly Adefope – these really accomplished, amazing women who are like comedy gods to me.” Ironically, Stibbe also won the Wodehouse prize in 2019 for Reasons to Be Cheerful, becoming the fourth woman to win it. She gave the credit to Marian Keyes, “It’s thanks to Marian I won – she had the guts to say something about it. It wasn’t just that there’s an apparent gender bias in the shortlistees and winners, but also there was that year  that the Wodehouse people said they weren’t even making a shortlist because the books weren’t funny in the right way. It did seem a bizarre thing that an outfit who purports to support and celebrate comedy writers would tell us all to f*ck off.” A male reviewer of Reasons to Be Cheerful called it a “pleasant but slight coming-of-age story” and its win of the Wodehouse Prize, “both perplexing and an unintentionally damning indictment of its competition.” Stibbe responded, “If he said ‘it wasn’t funny and I hated it’ I wouldn’t mind, but that book is not slight. It’s got lots of extremely important things in it, but maybe not for him. It’s not me saying, ‘Oh I got a bad review boohoo.’ It’s that I got a review which perfectly illustrates what’s wrong, that women’s concerns and the things that are particularly compelling, real, funny, painful and poignant for us can just be dismissed.”
- September 14, 2021 – Books by three women authors made the shortlist for 2021’s Booker Prize, the prestigious annual award for “the best novel written in English” and published in the UK or Ireland: American poet Patricia Lockwood, for her debut novel No One is Talking About This; Somali-British novelist Nadifa Mohamed for The Fortune Men; and American novelist Maggie Shipstead for Great Circle. However, the prize was won by South African novelist and playwright Damon Galgut, for The Promise, a multi-generational saga about a promise made to a dying woman that was not honored.
- September 15, 1505 – Mary of Austria born, Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia as wife of King Louis II (1515-1526) until his death while retreating after the disastrous Battle of Mohács in which nearly the entire Hungarian army was killed by the much larger army of Suleiman I of the Ottoman Empire. Queen Mary governed Hungary as regent for her brother, Ferdinand I (1526-1527). Then she was appointed by her brother, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, as Governor of the Habsburg Netherlands (1531-1555). She strived unsuccessfully for peace in the Netherlands, but Charles disregarded the problems she described in letters to him, and often ignored her warnings of trouble. She was forced to wage war against France in 1537, and to deal with the Revolt of Ghent between 1538 and 1540. Mary's appointment as Governor of the Netherlands was renewed in 1540, after the revolt in Ghent was subdued. When Charles decided to abdicate as emperor in 1555, and leave the government of the Netherlands to his son Philip, Mary announced her resignation. Both Charles and Philip urged her to remain, but she refused, and her resignation was finally accepted. She retired to Turnhout (now part of Belgium) for a year, then moved to Castile to be near her recently widowed sister Eleanor. But Eleanor died in 1558, and Mary was being pressured to resume governing the Netherlands when Charles died in September 1558. The news caused her to have two severe heart attacks, and she died in October 1558. In her will, she asked that her heart-shaped medallion, once worn by her husband, be melted down and the gold distributed to the poor.
- September 15, 1853 – Antoinette Brown Blackwell ordained by the Congregational Church, the first U.S. woman ordained as a mainstream Protestant minister. She would leave the Congregational Church over issues of doctrine in 1857, but became a Unitarian in 1878, and was then recognized as a Unitarian minister.
- September 15, 1857 – Anna Winlock born, American astronomer; one of “the Harvard computers,” she made her era’s most complete catalogue of stars near the north and south poles, and contributed substantial work to the Astronomischeen Gesellschaft. Also remembered for calculations and studies on asteroids 433 Eros and 475 Oclio. The women computers worked seven hours a day, six days a week, for 25¢ or 30¢ an hour – half of what a man would make – and in spite of their many contributions the amount wasn't raised for decades.
- September 15, 1868 – Lida Shaw King born, American classical scholar; professor of classical literature and archaeology at Vassar (1894-1897); dean of the Women’s College at Brown University (1905-1922); published in the American Journal of Archaeology.
- September 15, 1890 – Agatha Christie born, international best-selling British mystery novelist and playwright, known for Witness for the Prosecution, The Mousetrap, and as creator of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.
- September 15, 1890 – Sonja Branting-Westerståhl born, Swedish lawyer and politician; one of Sweden’s first women lawyers, specializing in matrimonial law, after working in the Stockholm city legal aid office. She was very active in the 1930s in raising awareness of the dangers of Nazism and totalitarianism. Branting-Westerståhl was a social democrat, and served in the lower house of the Riksdag in 1948. She was also on the executive board of the Social Democrat Women’s Organisation (1936-1952).
- September 15, 1909 – Betty Neels born, member of the British Territorial Army Nursing Service during WWII, serving in France (1939-1942); in 1969, she became a successful writer of over 13o romance novels until her death at age 91 in 2001.
- September 15, 1915 – Fawn M. Brodie born, American biographer and historian; noted for psychobiography; Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History and No Man Knows My History, a biography of Joseph Smith.
- September 15, 1918 – Margot Loyola born, folk singer, musician and musical ethnographer and anthropologist, who published numerous books on folk music and customs of Chile and other South American countries.
- September 15, 1919 – Heda Margolius Kovály born, Czech writer and translator; noted for her memoir Under a Cruel Star – A Life in Prague 1941-1968.
- September 15, 1922 – Mary Soames born as Mary Spencer-Churchill; British author of biographies of members of the Churchill family, and a memoir about her years growing up as the youngest child of Winston and Clementine Churchill.
- September 15, 1929 – Eva Burrows born, Australian Salvation Army officer; at 56, she became the organization’s youngest commander, the 13th General of the Salvation Army.
- September 15, 1940 – Anne Moody born as Essie Mae, American author and civil rights worker, known for her acclaimed autobiography Coming of Age in Mississippi which won the Brotherhood Award from the National Council of Christians and Jews, and the Best Book of the Year Award from the National Library Association.
- September 15, 1942 – Ksenia Milicevic born in Bosnia-Herzegovina, French painter, architect, and town planner. She lived and worked in Argentina, Spain and Mexico, before settling in France. In 2012, she originated the International Children’s Painting Biennial, and started the Art Resilience movement in 2014.
- September 15, 1945 – Jessye Norman born, dramatic soprano, noted for performing Wagnerian repertoire.
- September 15, 1947 – Diane E. Levin born, American professor of education, author, and authority on how media effects young children; noted for Teaching Young Children in Violent Times: building a peaceable classroom, and So Sexy So Soon: the new sexualized childhood, and what parents can do to protect their kids.
- September 15, 1955 – Betty Robbins, first woman cantor officially appointed by a congregation. She led Rosh Hashanah services at Temple Avodah in Oceanside, New Jersey.
- September 15, 1955 – Željka Antunović born, Croatian centre-left Social Democratic politician and consultant; acting president of the Social Democratic Party between April and June 2007; first Croatian woman to serve as Minister of Defence (2002- 2003); member of the Croatian Parliament (1995-1999 and 2003-2013). Antunović founded a consulting company upon her retirement from politics.
- September 15, 1961 – Helen Margetts born, British political scientist specializing in digital era governance and politics; Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, and Professor of Internet and Society at the University of Oxford.
- September 15, 1963 – Four black girls are killed when the African American 16th Street Baptist Church is bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.
- September 15, 1977 – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie born, Nigerian author of novels, short stories, and nonfiction; known for her novels Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, and Americanah; her short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck; and a book-length essay We Should All Be Feminists; awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2008.
- September 15, 1992 – Frances Cannon born, Australian queer author and multidisciplinary artist, working primarily with watercolour, gouache, and ink.
- September 15, 2019 – According to a Philadelphia Inquirer poll, over 66% of respondents said the Supreme Court should not overturn Roe v. Wade, while 33% said Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Anti-choice advocates insisted for years the abortion restrictions they were pushing through Republican-dominated state legislatures were to protect patients. In 2016, the Supreme Court analyzed these claims in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The verdict? The justices recognized the patient-safety claims for these restrictions were bogus and ruled them unconstitutional. The Hellerstedt loss was a big blow to anti-choicers because it exposed their strategy was based on fraud. Forty-six years after Roe, sophisticated global public health data underscores the fact that criminalizing abortion doesn’t end abortion, it only ends safe, legal abortion for women who can’t afford travel to where it is legal. Currently, approximately 68,000 women die of unsafe abortions annually, making it one of the leading causes of global maternal mortality (13%). But since the 2016 U.S. election, at least 20 cases specifically designed to overturn Roe wended their way through the federal courts toward the conservative-dominated Supreme Court. The extreme right majority on the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade with its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson in June 2022.
- September 15, 2020 – The city of Louisville, Kentucky, reached a settlement of $12 million with the family of Breonna Taylor in a civil suit stemming from the fatal shooting of the 26 year old by police in her apartment in March 2020. Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher addressed Breonna Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, at the press conference announcing the settlement, “I cannot begin to imagine Ms Palmer’s pain, and I am deeply, deeply sorry for Breonna’s death.” Tamika Palmer stated, “As significant as today is, it’s only the beginning of getting full justice for Breonna. We must not lose focus on what the real drive is and with that being said, it’s time to move forward with the criminal charges because she deserves that and much more.” Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Taylor’s family, declared, “We won’t let Breonna Taylor’s life be swept under the rug.” He said the $12 million agreement is the largest such settlement given out for a black woman killed by police. Separately, a grand jury was asked to weigh charges in a potential criminal case against three officers involved in the shooting. Local prosecutors came in for heavy criticism for the long delay. Ultimately, only one former Louisville police officer was charged in connection with the shooting, and his trial was then postponed until February 2022 because of a backlog of delayed trials caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. When the case did come to trial, the jury found him not guilty on all counts.
- September 15, 2021 – In Afghanistan, the Taliban orchestrated a sit-down demonstration at Kabul University, where about 300 women appeared wearing the all-black, head-to-toe burqa which the Taliban regime is imposing on Afghan women, waving Taliban flags, and saying they support banning women from high-ranking government positions, and gender-segregating schools and universities. In response, Dr. Bahar Jalali, an Afghan historian and gender studies expert, launched a #DoNotTouchMyClothes campaign online, posting a photograph of herself in traditional Afghan women’s garb. Afghan women living in other countries, many of them newly in exile, responded from across the globe by posting photographs of themselves wearing their vibrant traditional Afghan clothing.
- September 16, 1295 – Elizabeth de Clare, Lady of Clare born, heiress to the lordships of Clare in Suffolk, England, and Usk in Wales. She married three times, and bore three children, one to each husband. Her last husband, Sir Roger, Lord D’Amory of Ireland, was reckless and violent, and became embroiled in the Despenser War. Her brother-in-law, Hugh Despenser, began taking over lordships in south Wales, in a land grab, often by foul means. He was especially interested in the estates of his sisters-in-law and their husbands, but the Marcher lords of south Wales rose up against him, and he was banished by the King Edward II in August of 1321. But Edward recalled Despenser in October, and the war began. Elizabeth’s husband was captured at Tutbury Castle, then Elizabeth and her children were captured at Usk Castle in January, 1322, and imprisoned at Barking Abbey, a nunnery on the outskirts of London. Sir Roger died of his wounds two months later. Elizabeth was forced by the king to exchange her lordship of Usk with Despenser’s less-valuable lordship of Gower, but the rebellion of Queen Isabella forced the king to flee with Despenser, and Elizabeth regained her lordship over Usk when Despenser was executed. She never remarried, and styled herself Lady of Clare after her principal estate in Suffolk. She built a London house in 1352, and exerted considerable influence in society as one of the richest women in England. But she was also known for her alms giving and patronage of religious houses. Her most important and lasting contribution was Clare College, Cambridge. Though founded by Richard de Badew in 1326, he gave over his rights as patron to Elizabeth in 1346. She made further grants to sustain and expand the college, and it became known as Clare Hall. She died in 1360, leaving extensive bequests. Her will and the records of her household expenses are invaluable sources of information on how the nobles of the period lived.
- September 16, 1672 – Anne Dudley Bradstreet, the first woman to be recognized as an accomplished colonial American poet, dies in Andover, Massachusetts. Commemorated as Anne Dudley Bradstreet Day.
- September 16, 1846 – Anna Kingsford born, one of the first English women to earn a medical degree, but the only medical student to graduate without ever dissecting a single animal; anti-vivisectionist, women’s rights, and vegetarian campaigner. She founded the Food Reform Society, and wrote The Perfect Way in Diet.
- September 16, 1861 – Miriam Benjamin born a free African American; graduated from Howard University medical school, worked in several federal government offices in Washington DC, became an attorney, and specialized in patent law because she was also an inventor. Benjamin was the second black woman inventor to receive a U.S. patent, for the Gong and Signal chair, used by hotel guests to signal a waiter or attendant that they wanted service; the system was later adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives to signal pages, and was a precursor of the signaling system used by passengers on airplanes to attract a flight attendant’s attention; her two brothers also held patents for inventions. Under the pseudonym E.B. Miriam, she also composed musical pieces, including songs and marches for piano and band. Her 'Boston Elite Quickstep' was played by John Philip Sousa's band.
- September 16, 1880 – Clara Ayres born, American nurse who joined the U.S. Army Corps; she and Helen Burnett Wood were the first two nurses to be killed in military service during WWI, by accident. On May 17, 1917, aboard the USS Mongolia heading for Europe, they were hit by shell fragments when a ship’s gun exploded during a drill.
- September 16, 1885 – Karen Horney born in Germany, American psychoanalyst; first known woman to present a paper regarding feminine psychiatry; fourteen papers she wrote between 1922 and 1937 were amalgamated into her ground-breaking book, Feminine Psychology. She differed from Freud, suggesting that environmental and social conditions played a more determining role in creation of an individual’s personality than biological drives, and these are the chief cause of neuroses and personality disorders. Her view of human beings allowed more scope for development and rational adaptation than Freudian determinism.
- September 16, 1887 – Nadia Boulanger born, French composer, mentor to Aaron Copland, Philip Glass, and Quincy Jones, among others.
- September 16, 1912 – Edith Anrep born, Swedish lawyer and feminist; President of the International Alliance of Women (1970-1973). Member of the Fredrika Bremer Förbundet, Sweden’s oldest women’s rights organization, a part of the International Alliance of Women, and has general consultative status with the UN. The FBF was founded in 1884, and named in honor of Swedish novelist Fredrika Bremer, whose novel Hertha sparked legislation emancipating unmarried Swedish women from the wardship of their male relatives.
- September 16, 1916 – Marie Vieux-Chauvet born, Haitian novelist, poet, and playwright; she sometimes published as Marie Vieux; best known for her novels, Fille d'Haïti (Daughter of Haiti), La Danse sur le Volcan (Dance on the Volcano), Fonds des Nègres and for her trilogy, the posthumous winner of the 1986 Prix Deschamps: Amour, Colère, Folie (Love, Anger, Madness).
- September 16, 1920 – Sheila Quinn born, British nurse; Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing, and its president (1982-1986); Executive Director of the International Council of Nurses (ICN – 1967-1970) and an ICN representative to the International Labour Organisation; consultant to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) to the Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, Regional Nursing Officer (RNO) for the Wessex Regional Health Authority, and Chief Nursing Advisor for the British Red Cross. In 1993, the ICN awarded her the Christiane Reimann Prize, for outstanding contribution to the nursing profession. She contributed significantly to the Problem Solving for Better Health (PSBH) program at the Dreyfus Health Foundation (DHF – 1995-2016).
- September 16, 1921 – Ursula M. Franklin born in Germany, Canadian metallurgist, research physicist, author, and educator who taught at the University of Toronto for more than 40 years. Author of The Real World of Technology.
- September 16, 1927 – Sadako Ogata born, Japanese diplomat, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (1991-2001); President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA, 2003-2012); 2002 Fulbright Prize for International Understanding.
- September 16, 1928 – Patricia Wald born, American judge; U.S. representative to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (1999-2002); Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (1986-1991); Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (1979-1999). Born in modest circumstances, she worked as a teenager during summers in brass mills in Connecticut. Her involvement with union work and the labor movement fired her ambition to go to law school and help working class people. She was class valedictorian when she graduated from high school, and an affluent woman in her hometown gave her a scholarship to the Connecticut College for Women (now Connecticut College). When she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, the national fellowship she received from the Pepsi-Cola Company allowed her to go to Yale Law School, earning her law degree with only eleven other women in 1951, out of a class of 200. She worked as a waitress and a researcher to pay her living expenses at Yale, but still found time to be a student editor on the Yale Law Journal, one of only two women editors. After graduation, she clerked for Judge Jerome Frank of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, then briefly entered private practice before leaving to raise her five children for the next six years. She took on part-time consulting and research jobs, and was editorial assistant for Frederick M. Rowe (1959-1962). In 1963, she was a member of the National Conference on Bail and Criminal Justice, then worked for the National Conference on Law & Poverty in its Office of Economic Opportunity. In 1964, she co-authored Bail in the United States, which influenced the reform of the nation’s bail system. Appointed by Lyndon Johnson to the President’s Commission on Crime in the District of Columbia (1965-1966), she also consulted for the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement & Administration of Criminal Justice in 1967. She worked for Neighborhood Legal Services in Washington, D.C (1968-1970), and consulted for the National Advisory Committee on Civil Disorder and the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. Wald worked at the Center for Law and Social Policy as an attorney (1971-1972), then for the Mental Health Law Project (1973-1977). She returned to the Department of Justice (1977-1979), and was Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs during the Carter Administration before being nominated by Carter to the DC Circuit.
- September 16, 1930 – Anne Francis born, American actress known for her role in Forbidden Planet, the first science fiction movie to break out of the Hollywood low-budget ‘B’ movie category, and the television series Honey West, in which she starred as a private investigator “who was as quick with body slams as witty one-liners.” Francis was a Democrat who publically supported Adlai Stevenson’s 1952 presidential campaign. Her autobiography, Voices from Home, was published in 1982. A heavy smoker until she quit in the 1980s, she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006. After the cancer spread to her pancreas, she died at age 80 in January 2011.
- September 16, 1942 – Susan L. Graham born, American computer scientist; Pehong Chen Distinguished Professor in Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley; research projects include Harmonia, a language-based framework for interactive software development, and Titanium, a Java-based parallel programming language, compiler, and runtime system. Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, and of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, which awarded her the ICCC John von Neumann Medal in 2009.
- September 16, 1948 – Julia Donaldson born, English author, playwright, songwriter, and performer, known for rhyming stories for children, including The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, and Stick Man.
- September 16, 1955 – Zhang Haidi born, Chinese writer, translator, inspirational speaker, and chair of China Administration of Sports for Persons with Disabilities (CASPD), the national Paralympics committee of China. A paraplegic since age five, after undergoing six major operations to have six of her spinal plates removed between 1960 and 1976 to eliminate pathological problems in blood vessels that threatened the dura mater of her spine. She was unable to attend school, and taught herself at home, including learning English, Japanese, German, and Esperanto. In 1993, Jilin University awarded her a master’s degree in philosophy. Author of Beautiful English, written in both Chinese and English, and a novel called A Dream in Wheelchair.
- September 16, 1957 – Clara Furse born, Dutch-British financial executive, first woman Chief Executive of the London Stock Exchange (2001-2009).
- September 16, 1961 – Annamária Szalai born, Hungarian journalist and politician; President of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (2010-2013); member of the National Radio and Television Commission (2004-2009); Member of the National Assembly (1998-2004).
- September 16, 1964 – Mary Coustas born, Greek-Australian comedian and writer; performs stand-up as “Effie.” She won the Logie Award for Most Popular Comedy Personality in 1993. Author of Effie's Guide to Being Up Yourself, and All I know: a memoir of love, loss and life, published in 2013.
- September 16, 1971 – Amy Poehler born, American comedian, actress, director, producer, and writer; Saturday Night Live, Parks and Recreation, Comedy Central; executive producer of Broad City and Difficult People; creator of The UCB Show.
- September 16, 2019 – Sarah Thomas, American long-distance swimmer, set a new record, swimming the English Channel four times continuously in 54 hours and 10 minutes, just a year after she completed treatment for breast cancer. The straight distance would have been 84 miles, but strong currents pushed her off-course, lengthening the distance she swam to over 130 miles.
- September 16, 2019 – A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine based on federal data estimates that the first sexual intercourse experience of one in 16 American women was the result of physical force or coercion. The average age of these victims was 15.6 years old, while the average age of the men who forced these encounters was 27 years old. “This is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed because every week, thousands of women are experiencing rape as a sexual initiation,” said study coauthor Laura Hawks, a physician and research fellow at Harvard Medical School and the Cambridge Health Alliance. “When we talk about sexual violence, what we’re really talking about is power imbalance between women and men. We’re learning more and more how insidious that inequality is in our society.” Hawks and her fellow researchers, affiliated with the Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard, and Hunter College, based their study on data from more than 13,300 women between the ages of 18 and 44. The data, including personal interviews, came from the 2011-2017 National Survey of Family Growth, a representative survey conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- September 16, 2020 – Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, delivered her first “state of the union” address since beginning a five-year term in December 2020. Her speech covered issues from the coronavirus pandemic to the climate crisis to racism. She announced she would appoint the commission’s first-ever anti-racism coordinator. However, Von der Leyen reserved her harshest language for Poland’s “LGBTQ free zones” declaring, “Being yourself is not your ideology. It’s your identity. So I want to be crystal clear – LGBTQI-free zones are humanity-free zones. And they have no place in our union.” Von der Leyden also criticized European Union member states that watered down EU foreign policy messages on human rights, and called for ending national vetoes. Von der Leyen is the first woman president in the commission’s 63-year history.
- September 16, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will distribute nearly $350 million in awards to every state across the nation to support safe pregnancies and healthy babies. Funding will expand home visiting services to families most in need, increase access to doulas (non-medical professions who offer informational support, and coaching before and during labor), address health disparities in infant deaths, and improve data reporting on maternal mortality. HRSA Principal Deputy Administrator Diane Espinosa said, “We know that many mothers and their children don’t receive the care they need to stay healthy throughout their lives. These programs allow us to better tackle the root causes of these challenges and improve access to care for pregnant women, parents, and infants.” The Healthy Start initiative will address infant mortality in communities with rates well above the national average. By working with women during pregnancy and after giving birth, these projects aim to reduce infant death and severe maternal illness.
- Women Trailblazers of California: Pioneers to the Present, © 2012 by Gloria G. Harris and Hannah S. Cohen — The History Press
- A Book of Days for the Literary Year, edited by Neal T. Jones
- The Music-Lover’s Birthday Book, Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Thanks to WineRev — www.dailykos.com/…
- The Guardian newspaper — Top Stories and International sections
The Feminist Cats Learn About
the Remarkable Dolores Huerta
Dolores Huerta was born April 10, 1930, in the mining town of Dawson New Mexico. Her father was born in Dawson, and worked in the coal mines. Later, he became a migrant worker harvesting crops in Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming, and she heard stories from him about union organizing. When her parents divorced, her mother Alicia, her two brothers, and Huerta moved to Stockton, California, where Alicia became a businesswoman, eventually owning a restaurant and a hotel. Huerta said, "The dominant person in my life is my mother. She was a very intelligent woman and a very gentle woman ...” Huerta went to college, and taught elementary school, but “… couldn't tolerate seeing kids come to class hungry and needing shoes. I thought I could do more by organizing farm workers than by trying to teach their hungry children."
In 1955, Huerta and Fred Ross co-founded and organized the Stockton Chapter of the Community Service Organization (CSO), to fight for economic improvements for Latino/Mexican/Chicano migrant Farm workers. She excelled at organization and detail, and Ross often delegated big responsibilities to her, including running door-to-door field organizing. She was doing work traditionally done by men, and met not only racial prejudice, but sexism, but it never let them stop her.
In 1960, Huerta co-founded the Agricultural Workers Association, running voter registration drives and pressing local governments for barrio improvements.
In 1962, with César Chávez, she co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA). In 1965, the NFWA joined with other organizations in a strike against grape growers. Using nonviolent tactics, they staged strikes and protests, and organized a successful consumer boycott of grapes that attracted international attention. In 1966, Huerta negotiated a contract between the UFWOC and the Schenley Wine Company, the first time farm workers effectively bargained with an agricultural enterprise. In 1970, the grape growers relented and signed labor contracts with the strikers, the first major victory for farm workers.
During the strike, the NFWA and AWOC merged into the United Farm Workers. Huerta was the only woman to sit on the board of the UFW until 2018.
The UFW used its growing power to pressure the state of California, and in 1975, the first law governing farm-labor organizing was passed, with provisions for the right to boycott and strike, union voting rights for seasonal workers, and secret-ballot union elections. By 1976, membership in the UFW soared to 30,000.
In the 1980s, there was an anti-union backlash, and Republicans had major wins in elections. Even California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), established by the 1975 law, became packed with pro-grower representatives who sided against the UFW in labor disputes. UFW membership dropped to 12,000, as growers began using undocumented workers.
In September 1988, Dolores Huerta was severely beaten with a baton by a San Francisco police officer during a peaceful lawful protest against GOP policies. She had to have emergency surgery to remove her spleen. The beating was caught on video, and broadcast on the local news. She eventually won a large settlement from the city of San Francisco and its police department.
After a lengthy recovery, Huerta took a leave of absence from the union, and traversed the country for two years on behalf of the Feminist Majority's ‘Feminization of Power Campaign’ encouraging Latinas to run for office. The campaign resulted in a significant increase in the number of women elected to local, state and federal offices.
She was honored by President Clinton in 1998 with the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights, and by President Obama in 2012 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In 2002, she started the Dolores Huerta Foundation, to organize at the grassroots level, develop leadership skills among younger activists, and advocate for education, protecting the environment, and sustainable economic development.
In 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 2455, making April 10th ‘Dolores Huerta Day’ in California.
Now in her 90s, she is still an active advocate for the changes she wants to see in American society.
For those of you who want to dive deeper,
the extended list of this week’s
Women Trailblazers and Events
in Women’s History is here: