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June 27
WOMEN OF ACHIEVEMENT AND HERSTORY

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.

06-27 TABLE of CONTENTS:

Winifred Black

Isabel Barrows, Stenographer

Countess Proskovya Bruce, "L'Eprouveuse"

DATES, ANNIVERSARIES, and EVENTS

QUOTES by Marianne Williamson, Isaak Dinesin, and Carole Nelson Douglas.


Winifred Black

      Winifred Black was William Randolph Hearst's answer to Nellie Bly. Among her exploits were entering Galveston Island disguised as a boy after the hurricane which took 7,000 lives. In addition to writing about the tragedy, she directed the relief efforts of the San Francisco Examiner. Her fame and ability were such that she was the chief writer of the Examiner as it covered the San Francisco earthquake.

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Isabel Barrows, Stenographer

      In 1868 Isabel Barrows who picked up stenography watching her husband. She became a stenographer for Secretary of State William Seward when her husband became ill. The next year Isabel Barrows went to Austria with Dr. Mary Stafford and became the first woman admitted to the famed University of Vienna medical school. Back in the U.S. Barrow combined eye-surgery, lecturing at Howard University and stenographic work to earn her livelihood.

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Countess Proskovya Bruce, "L'Eprouveuse"

      Countess Proskovya Bruce became known as "L'Eprouveuse," (the tester) for allegedly investigating the amorous skills of young men who caught the eye of Empress Catherine II of Russia. A multiplicity of fantastic tales were told about Catherine in an attempt to discredit her reign.
      The tales continue today in order to overpower the many accomplishments Catherine the Great succeeded with including setting up a university and library and in general easing the yoke of government from the people's necks.
      A later, jealous Czar made it impossible for a woman to ever head Russia again.

(Does this tale of defaming a previous successful woman ruler sound familiar? Such tactics date back to Egypt, at least.)

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06-27 DATES, ANNIVERSARIES, and EVENTS

B. 06-27-1841, Agnes Irwin - U.S. educator, Dean of Radcliffe who created a program for awarding doctorate degrees to women in conjunction with Harvard University and built Radcliffe's first gymnasium, library, and dormitories. At the resignation of President Elizabeth Agassiz, a man was appointed president of Radcliffe instead of Irwin. It was a painful snub but it is a living example of the prejudice shown to women. Radcliffe was the Harvard-attached women's college. It would be almost 70 more years before the seven sister all- women colleges would all have women deans and presidents. Radcliffe has since been fully integrated with Harvard.

B. 06-27-1849, Harriet Hubbard Ayer - U.S. businesswoman. HHA divorced her bankrupt, philandering, drunken, albeit socially prominent husband and moved from Chicago to New York to earn a living. She wrote books and a column on beauty, health, exercise, and mental discipline. As a member of the Rany Daisy dress reform group she wore short skirts at the turn of the century when proper attire dictated dresses were worn to the floor.
      She was not a suffragist or a feminist and advocated many of the beauty myths that kept women from full adulthood: no sun, corsets, cosmetics to hide age, etc.
      She purchased a face cream formula in France from a chemist who claimed it was that of a famous beauty in the Napoleanic court, Madame Recamier. She marketed it in the U.S. and was highly successful, but most of the profits were lost in legal fees defending against lawsuits brought by various people claiming the formula was theirs.
      In 1893 her ex-husband and daughter had her committed to a mental institution and took over her business. Her husband claimed she was suffering from severe depression following the death of her child 22 years before!
      For many, many years, a husband (or ex-husband) simply had to get the supervisor of a mental institution to agree with him regarding his wife's condition and the wife (or ex-wife) could be committed without medical examinations or a judicial hearing. It was a legal way for husbands or ex-husbands to take control of a woman's fortune or business. Some say such commitments were a money-making sideline (bribery) for supervisors.
      By the time Harriet Ayer's friends arranged her release 14 months later, the company was ruined. The company which uses her name today was formed after her death.

B. 06-27-1862, May Irwin - U.S. singer-actor. She popularized ragtime with such songs "After the Ball" and "A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight." Her filmed kiss in 1896 brought demands for movie censorship.

B. 06-27-1869, Emma Goldman - Russian-born American anarchist and labor leader who renounced violence as a method for social change. Known in the press as "Red Emma," she was arrested several times and imprisoned for speaking out on subjects frowned on by the government, especially birth control.
      Her feminist stand on birth control, working conditions, free love (consensual love between two adults without coercion of church or state), and her opposition to child labor got her into more trouble with authorities than her anarchy and fiery speeches to unemployed workers.
      She edited the magazine Mother Earth that advocated extensive social change.
      She opposed the U.S. entry into World War I and was sentenced to five years in prison for opposing conscription.
      To get rid of her, the U.S. government canceled HER EX-HUSBAND's citizenship and said that the nullification of HIS citizenship automatically canceled hers because a U.S. married woman could only hold American citizenship in her husband's name. (At the time, native-born U.S. women LOST their citizenship if they married a man who was not native-born!)
      She was deported to Russia along with a large number of others but she left there to tour Europe and Canada speaking out on issues concerning the poor, the working classes, and women. She was also an advocate of European and British authors. She spoke and wrote in support of a number of the new writers including Ibsen and Shaw. She was bisexual.

B. 06-27-1880, Helen Keller - an icon of the human spirit. HK was struck blind and deaf at 19 months old by scarlet fever. She learned to communicate with the world through the efforts of Anne Sullivan who helped her develop into the most admired woman in the history of the U.S. - or the world.
      She became a world-wide advocate for the blind and handicapped by communicating through a system of tapping into the palm of Sullivan and vise versa. She graduated cum laude from Radcliffe with Sullivan at her side translating. (One wonders why Sullivan didn't get some recognition since everything Keller did had to go through Sullivan from being her ears to recording her thoughts.)

B. June 27, 1888, Antoinette Perry followed in her aunt's footsteps to become an actor, but her forte was directing. She directed nearly 30 plays on Broadway including The Barrett's of Whimple Street and the even more famous Harvey. She established the American Theatre Wing in 1947. The Wing now names its annual awards for excellence in theater in her honor, recognizing her as one of the most influential people in the history of American theater. The Antoinette Perry Awards are popularly known as "The Tony's."

B. 06-27-1893, Crystal Dreda Bird Fauset, American race relations specialist, state legislator, and first black woman elected to a U.S. State legislature (Pennsylvania 1938). She helped create the Swarthmore College Institute of Race Relations (1933).

B. 06-27-1912, Miné (Min&eactue;) Okubo - award winning U.S. artist of Japanese descent was interned in 1942. She founded the literary magazine Trek with other internees. She illustrated the special Fortune magazine issue on Japan, exhibited drawings and paintings from the Japanese relocation camps, and published Citizen 13660 (1946) about her experiences in the camps. Major retrospects of her work have been held on both coasts.

B. 06-27-1924, Efua Sutherland - Ghanaian playwright, poet, teacher, and children's author. ES founded the Drama Studio in Accra (now the Writers' Workshop in the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon).

B. 06-27-1924, Rosalie Allen - U.S. country singer known as the Queen of the Yodellers.

Event 06-27-1986: The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that "the elimination of prohibited sex discrimination is a sufficiently important state interest" to warrant investigation into charges of sexual discrimination in religious organizations.

Event 06-27-2000: Cantor Ann Turnoss from Boca Raton, Florida (a liturgical singer who conducts a Jewish prayer) prayed at the Western Wall without being heckled, a rare occurrence in Israel where the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community opposes the concept of men and women praying together and women chanting the service.
      Since women began to demand the right to pray at the wall, orthodox Jewish men have shown violence towards the women who now have a small portion of the wall set aside for their use (to insure that there is no mixing of the sexes and as protection for the women from violence).
      The men have thrown chairs, rocks, and other things at the women and hurled verbal curses and epithets at them.
      The lack of heckling, etc., towards Cantor Turnoss was probably because of the large news contingency attending her appearance and the recording of any violence.       Praying and attendance at the temples are strictly segregated in the orthodox form of the Jewish faith. In fact, women are not expected to attend temple prayer services and are usually segregated in balconies and do not take part, nor are they recognized, in the services.
      The orthodox Jews in Israel have shown violence towards women who do not follow their rules even away from the wall. They have thrown stones at women who wear short sleeves, slacks, or skirts that are not dust-level - attire strictly forbidden by their standards.


QUOTES DU JOUR

WILLIAMSON, MARIANNE:
      "If we (women) knew how to moan, they would hear us on the moon."
            -- Williamson, Marianne. A Woman's Worth. New York: Random House, 1993.

DINESIN, ISAAK:
      "I do not think I could ever really love a woman who had not, for one reason or another, been upon a broomstick."
            -- Isaak Dinesin

DOUGLAS, CAROLE NELSON:
     
"How unfair it is that enterprise is called a harlot when it wears a female face.... You call her an 'adventurous' as well. Two centuries ago the word designated a woman who lived by her wits; today it has been debased to describe a woman who lives by her willingness -- especially in regard to men of influence and wealth."
            -- Carole Nelson Douglas in the novel Good Night, Mr. Holmes.


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