Women’s History Month!

Jessie: In New Hampshire where the signs of spring are doing a great job of remaining hidden!

March is Women’s History Month and I for one could not be more pleased! I love real history, historical fiction and unapologetic tall tales, myths and legends. I love all of thoses things even more when they feature women.

For those of you as enamoured of the topic as I, here are a few things I’ve encountered lately.

In 1715 Sybilla Masters was the first American Colonist, regardless of gender, to have a patent granted on an invention. Unfortunately, at the time British law did not allow married women to receive patents in their own names. The patent was granted to her husband, Thomas Masters, with a mention of the credit for it going to Sybilla.

A jury in Barrington, MA, August, 1781 agreed with Elizabeth Freeman, an enslaved African American woman, that the newly ratified Massachusetts declared all people were born free and equal. Her groundbreaking case set a precedent for changes that lead to abolition in Massachusetts.

On January 1, 1892, a young woman, Annie Moore, was the first person to be processed at Ellis Island.

Mary Roberts Rhinehart was not only a famous novelist known especially for her mysteries but was also the very first journalist to reach the front during WWI and her experiences influenced her work.

In 1922, despite deep-seated prejudice against Americans of Chinese descent, Anna May Wong had a leading role in the very first technicolor film, The Toll of the Sea. Not only was the movie the first of its kind technologically, Anna was the first American-born Asian actor to star in a major Hollywood movie.

Margaret Rudkin’s family faced a serious economic downturn in the wake of the stock market crash of 1929. Driven by financial necessity and inspired by the benefit to her son’s health from a bread recipe she developed Margaret went on to build the business that would become Pepperidge Farms. She later sold the company to Campbell Soup and became the first woman to serve on their board of directors.

Readers, have you a story about a newsworthy woman to share with us? Is there someone in your personal life or in your community that you would like to celebrate?

21 Thoughts

  1. I’m proud to live in the town where Deborah Samson lived and worked for a time (though she lived much of her life in Sharon, MA), and where she first enlisted. Most people don’t know that she was one of the few women who fought in the American Revolution as a man. Actually she enlisted more than once, but she didn’t show up for the first enlistment. But she signed up again under a different name and fought in a couple of battles. After the war she married and had four children.

    1. Hedy Lamarr was the first person who came to my mind, as well. She had the original concept of “frequency hopping” that would keep a signal from being interrupted. It was the precursor of the wireless telephone, wi-fi, GPS, and most military communications. She was never really properly credited with this.

  2. Love this, Jessie. I love the story of Sybil Ludington the female Paul Revere. I’ve written bits and pieces of stories about her and even started a novel about her story. Some day I’m going to finish it.

  3. I used to work for an attorney, Mahala Ashley Dickerson, (a Quaker by the way) who was the first black and first female attorney in Alaska. She drove up the Alcan Highway in early 50’s in a Jeep. She was also one of the second female black attorney in Illinois and first female black attorney in Alabama. She provided representation to a community that had no one to turn to for many years, and she was hell on wheels. There’s a Wikipedia article about her.

  4. I used to work with a woman named Miss Messer (can’t remember her first name) who was in her 80s. She would translate obscure but very useful medical articles from German into English for the famous Lahey Clinic. She was a corker.

  5. Love this topic. Cribbing from my own webstie, where there is a section of Brooklyn Fun Facts, meet Lady Deborah Moody:

    THE FIRST BROOKLYN LADY: The only colonial settlement founded by a woman was in Brooklyn. Lady Deborah Moody was deemed a”dangerous woman” in the Boston colony for her outspoken beliefs—the first in the long history of Brooklyn women with attitude!—but the tolerant Dutch allowed her a grant of land in a (then remote) section of New Netherlands. The town she founded and led is now a Brooklyn neighborhood called Gravesend, probably named for a town in England, and there is a monument to her there. http://trissstein.com/erica-donato-mysteries-fun-facts.php

  6. Hello, Jessie! I’m glad I found your page. I couldn’t resist sharing this.

    I believe great mothers are noteworthy in general – those who started our own personal history. 😊

    Plus, Marie Curie, Rosa Parks and those amazing women in Hidden Figures.

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