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May 16

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.
This version of Women of Achievement has been taken
from the draft of an unpublished book based on
Irene Stuber's files on women of achievement and herstory.
The full text of this episode of Women of Achievement and Herstory
will be published here in the future.


Witch of Agnesi


QUOTE from Great Women in Connecticut History.

Witch of Agnesi

Agnesi.gifMaria Gaetana Agnesi (b. 05-16-1718) is a legendary Italian mathematician and philosopher hidden behind the "Witch of Agnesi."
      As the oldest of 21 children, she became head of the family to her very lonely widower father.
      She was a mathematical genius, although some say her Analytical Institutions (1748), the most complete work on differential and integral calculus to that time, was merely written as a textbook for her brothers. Those authorities fail to take into consideration her 1738 Propositiones Philosophicae which was a collection of essays on natural science and philosophy - and her position advocating education for women. And does it matter for what reason such a learned work was created?
      She is best known for the curve called the "Witch of Agnesi" (a mistranslation of Latin into English that is very Freudian). It has the Cartesian equation x*y^2=a^2(a-x).       Agnesi was elected to the Bologna Academy of Sciences and taught there until the death of her father at which point she abandoned mathematics and devoted the rest of her life to the poor, homeless, and sick - especially women, and spent her life entirely in the company of women where she rose to administrative positions. Maria Gaetana Agnesi lead an interestingly complex life waiting to be explored by a modern woman biographer.

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B. 05-16-1804, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, U.S. author, educator, and historian who in 1860 founded first kindergarten in U.S.

mccormick anne ohareB. 05-16-1880, Anne Elizabeth O'Hare McCormick, U.S. journalist who recorded the rise of fascism in Europe, interviewing and documenting the rising careers of those who would lead both sides of World War II.
      In 1937 she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. She would became the first woman to serve on the New York Times editorial board.
      Her father deserted the family and her mother supported her three daughters by running a dry goods store and selling door-to-door.

B. 05-16-1929, Adrienne Rich, U.S. poet and much quoted feminist.

B. 05-16-1929, Betty Carter, U.S. jazz singer of legendary proportions.
      BC just eeked out a living while raising her two children because she held to her musical vision of innovative jazz, bebop, and blues singing as well as composing.
      A stint at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1977 brought her "instant" stardom in her 40s. She developed her own trio and used her voice as a fourth instrument.

B. 05-16-1955, Olga Korbut, Russian 17-year-old who changed women's gymnastics with a series of sensational performances in the 1972 Olympics to win three gold and one silver using a series of innovative and daring moves never permitted women before.
      In 1976 she won another gold and a silver. She was active in fund raising and care for victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

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        "Work, for the colonial women, was from sunup to sundown. Along with child care responsibilities, colonial women also took charge of all food and clothing preparation. In the late Colonial and early Federal periods, this was a particularly difficult task for a woman with a large family. Worn out, many colonial women died young, survived by their husbands who often remarried only to have their second or even third wives meet with a similar end."
            -- Great Women in Connecticut History by the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, published March 1, 1986.

[A trip to old cemeteries can be an eye-opener for those who think the world was always like it is today. Many wives were buried in unmarked graves or with wooden markers (expensive stone markers were usually reserved for the men of the family), and thus their graves and their very existence have disappeared. Note how many men's graves appear to have more than the ordinary space between them and other graves. There's a good chance a wife or two is buried in that "empty" space. Another method was burying the survivor on top of the other with the man's name the only one appearing on the stone. Another method was just carving "wife" on the back of the man's stone.]

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