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September 1

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.
This version of Women of Achievement has been taken
from the 1998 email distribution of Women of Achievement and Herstory.
The full text of this episode of Women of Achievement and Herstory
will be published here in the future.

Part 2 of Dr. DiFonzo's review of the Michael Grossberg book exploring a Victorian Age custody battle


QUOTES by Lucy Stone and Marianne Williamson.

      To read this entire article, see: | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 |

Part 2 of Dr. DiFonzo's review of the Michael Grossberg book exploring a Victorian Age custody battle

[Part 2 of Dr. DiFonzo's review of the Michael Grossberg book exploring a Victorian Age custody battle when common law doctrine granted full sway to a father's decisions regarding child custody and family residence. Reproduced with permission of Dr. DiFonzo.]

"In 1837, Ellen Sears, daughter of Boston money, married Gonzalve d'Hauteville, son of Swiss nobility. Each family had much to gain. The d'Hautevilles would establish a link to a Boston family of tremendous wealth; the Sears would enlist a titled aristocrat in theirquest for social acceptance.

"Unfortunately for these great familial expectations, Ellen and Gonzalve wed in an era when the claims of patriarchal authority were adjusting to a subtle challenge from the romantic temper of the times and the nascent springs of feminine autonomy. Their marital relationship quickly dissolved.
      Pregnant and unhappy, Ellen left Gonzalve's home in Switzerland for Boston, giving birth to Frederick soon after.
      Gonzalve followed, demanding that his wife and son return home. The parties alternated efforts at negotiation with a cat-and-mouse game of forum shopping. Ultimately, the couple turned to the American version of King Solomon, the judiciary, and a highly-popularized custody trial commenced in Philadelphia in 1840.

"That the matter was even contested should be surprising. Common law doctrine granted full sway to a father's decisions regarding child custody and family residence. [2]
      "Indeed, as Grossberg observes, Ellen's claims to autonomy `voiced a standard of marital expectations at odds with the law (p. 43). Gonzalve's self-image as paterfamilias conflicted with Ellen's growing sense of herself as mother tormented by an unfeeling spouse. But hierarchical claims had always trumped those of mutuality. Ellen thus faced a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Since Gonzalve had not physically abused her or violated any other obligation of his marriage oath, she had no right to seek a divorce. [3]
      "Yet the law refused to intervene on behalf of married women. All were subject to their husbands' power and protection.
      Grossberg describes in fascinating detail how Ellen and her Philadelphia lawyers devised a strategy that would challenge the accepted legal formulation along its emerging cultural fault line. Essentially, their scheme was to emphasize Ellen's maternal role, and to characterize Gonzalve's actions as mental cruelty, which, though insufficient to warrant a dissolution of the conjugal union, rendered him unfit to usurp the mother in the care of an infant. Gonzalve's legal team, on the other hand, focused on Ellen's marital fault in deserting the husband's home, and relied on Gonzalve's paternal rights to custody of his child."

To read this entire article, see: | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 |

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B. 09-01-1789, Marguerite Gardiner Blessington, Countess of Blessington, accomplished British writer. When only 15, her father sold her to a sadist-husband. She escaped after a few months and later married Count Blessington. She took up with a young man and was forced to write to support him after they spent all his money in extravagant living.
      She conducted a notable salon in London besides her writing.

B. 09-01-1791, Lydia Sigourney, U.S. writer of more than 67 books and a thousand articles. Recognized as one of the most popular writers of her day, much of her work was concerned with the womanly morals of the day. Before her marriage she ran a school in Hartford, Connecticut, only writing seriously after her husband's business crumbled. Known as the "Sweet Singer from Hartford," her poems were much sought after by many national publications making her one of the most popular poets of her day.

B. 09-01-1849, Elizabeth Harrison, American educator who founded the influential Chicago Kindergarten College in Chicago. She also helped in founding the forerunner of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers.
      EH was a pioneer in the kindergarten movement and insisted on high educational requirements for teachers. She was an early supporter of Dr. Maria Montessori, having observed her movement in Italy.
      EH's extensive authoritative writings on the kindergarten movement and the education of young children included A Study of Child Nature (1890) that went through more than 50 editions and translated into most major languages.

B. 09-01-1854, Anna Botsford Comstock, U.S. naturalist who helped, without compensation, her husband's work as he rose to become chief entomologist at the U.S. department of Agriculture. However, her illustrations in "his" books that she helped write were so notable that they noticed her on her own.
      She gained her degree at Cornell and continued to help her husband by creating more than 600 wood cuts for his three most noted volumes - which she also helped write. Her drawings won international prizes. By the turn of the century she was writing her own books (and illustrating them). She was soon recognized worldwide for her engravings and her independent nature studies.
      ABC was a pioneer in nature studies for both college and public schools and developed a nature experimental course used in high schools. One of her nature studies went through 24 editions.
      After years of international fame, ABC was finally named a full professor in nature study at Cornell University.
      In 1923 she was chosen one of the 12 greatest living American women by the members of the League of Women voters.

Event 09-01-1878, Emma Nutt became the first woman telephone operator at $3 a day. They hired women to replace teenage boys who were considered too rude when dealing with the public. The change opened the career gates for women in the telephone industry. A job with the telephone company often meant lifetime security at a decent wage for women who seldom had too many other options in the white collar class.

Born 09-01-1882, Sara Bard Field, American suffragist and poet whose life reflected that side of women's experience not often reflected in mainstream historical summations. She was one of the seldom recognized women who followed her own dream, refusing to live up to society's requirement that women sacrifice themselves for their husbands - and children.
      Raised in a home ruled by a strict Baptist father, he banished her sisters from the home for disobedience. SBF was forbidden a college education because it might give her independent ideas. By marrying an older man to get away from her father, she jumped into the proverbial fire. A missionary, her husband took her to India where the indolent living of the whites based on the sweat of the poverty-stricken natives repulsed her.
      She left him with their children and returned to the U.S. where she divorced him and took back her birth name. She became a paid organizer in Oregon for the woman's suffrage movement of that state. She led it to victory in 1912 and assisted in the Nevada campaign.

Perhaps best known for her highly publicized, three-month auto trip from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., in 1915 during which she collected 500,000 signatures supported women's suffrage. She presented them to President Woodrow Wilson 12-06-1915 who stoutly opposed women's suffrage until outfoxed by the wily Carrie Chapman Catt.
      CCC as the head of the National American Women's Suffrage Association whose membership would swell to 3.5 million encouraged women to become active in the World War I efforts to prove they were worthy of the vote. The maneuver boxed Wilson into a corner and he was forced to add his support in 1918.

She lived with Charles Wood from 1918 and they were finally married in 1938 after Woods' wife died. They gathered artists and writers around them. Fields' main volumes of poetry were Pale Woman (1927) and Darkling Plain (1936).

B. 09-01-1898, Marilyn Miller. Blonde, beautiful, and talented, MM was the reigning queen of Broadway musical comedy from 1914 to her sudden death in 1936. She made several movies including Sunny (1930). MM introduced a number of standards including her trademark "Look for the Silver Lining."

B. 09-01-1906, Eleanor Burford Hibbert, one of the most popular British authors in history.
      Well, you know her as a.k.a. Victoria Holt, a.k.a. Jean Plaidy, and a.k.a. Philippa Carr, the pseudonyms on more than 100 novels. She was never critically honored, after all they were merely women's books, but her books sold (and continue) to sell very well, thank you. The various pseudonyms were to separate her various methods. Under Holt she wrote best-selling Gothic suspense, under Carr she wrote more romantic stories, and under Plaidy she wrote historically accurate novels.

B. 09-01-1908, Este, Lauder, American entrepreneur. In 1946 she founded the huge beauty and cosmetic company that bears her name and expanded her enterprises with such products as Clinique allergy-tested cosmetics and Aramis men's products. By the early 1970s, the company had evolved into a one-hundred million dollar enterprise with all the stock held by the family.
      The philanthropy of the Lauder family has been extensive and the French government gave EL an award for her financial help in restoring the Palace of Versailles. Unable to find an advertising company that would take their small account when they were starting, EL hit on the idea of offering free samples that soon brought return customers to their product line of skin care items and cosmetics.
      The couple separated during the early years of the company but a division of labor with EL holding the primary authority reconciled them.

B. 09-01-1908, Irene Otillia Galloway became the 4th director of the Women's Army Corps in 1953 with the rank of colonel.

B. 09-01-1910, Dame Peggy van Praagh, British ballet dancer. She was dancer with the Ballet Rambert, was dancer and co director of the London Ballet, then teacher and dance at the Sadler's Wells. She assisted a number of companies in Europe and the U.S. Suggesting a national company for Australia, the government agreed but insisted that she head it. A good choice. She developed a distinctive company with a strong Australian artistic voice.

Event 09-01-1910: Nan Jane Aspinwall, starts a solo horseback ride from San Francisco to New York City that takes 301 days and breaks every convention set up for feminine behavior.

B. 09-01-1914, Annemarie Selinko, Viennese writer. Her novel Desiree (1950) sold more than a million copies in the U.S. alone.

B. 09-01-1924, Yvonne DeCarlo, U.S. film actor who usually played exotic, seductive roles.

Event 09-01-1929, Ila Fox was licensed as Iowa's first woman pilot. To finance her flying lessons, she dressed in a snappy rendition of the classic aviator costume of boots, trousers and leather jacket to promote the Curtis Flying Service. Like all women, she had a difficult time finding any male pilots who would teach her. The feeling was that if a woman could do it, what macho pride could a man take in it? This macho attitude led many men to sabotage or otherwise discourage women pilots.

B. 09-01-1933, Ann Richards. In ten years AR rose from a county commissioner (1972) to the Texas state treasurer (1982) to governor of Texas (1990). Noted for her snow white hair and biting humor she was sill not given much of a chance against a wealthy good 'ole boy ranch owner in the race from governor. However, the race turned upside down when her opponent said women should relax and enjoy rape (!) He also alluded to her "drug" habit. She was a recovering alcoholic when she entered politics.
      Her victory marked the first time that women noticeably voted differently from men. It was estimated she received almost 65% of their votes, many crossing party lines. The AR autobiography is Straight from the Heart (1989)

B. 09-01-1939, Lily Tomlin, actor, feminist, and comedic genius. Known for her inventive and versatile talent, Tomlin brought her characters to life in a variety of media. In the 1960s she appeared on television comedy shows. In the 1970s she released comedy albums, had a one-woman stage show, and made several television specials. Her second solo stage show The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe written by her longtime domestic partner Jane Wagner won her a Tony award.
      Wagner also collaborated with Tomlin on a number of her best known routines. Tomlin won a second Tony as well as several Grammy and Emmy awards for other projects. LT starred in several films.

B. 09-01-1948, Gail Davies, U. S. country singer/songwriter was the first woman in the country music field to produce her own records (1979).

B. 09-01-1951, Mary Elizabeth Cunningham, U.S. businesswoman. MEC was forced to resign her high ranking corporate position with Bendix Corp., when her love affair with Bendix chairman William Agee was revealed. HE did not have to resign. Cunningham and Agee were later married.

B. 09-01-1957, Gloria Estefan, Cuban-born American pop singer and songwriter, the queen of Latin pop music.
      Her mother was a schoolteacher in Havana. The family fled Cuba when Castro came to power in 1959.

B. 09-01-1961, Dee Dee Myers, first press secretary of President Bill Clinton and the first woman to act as a presidential press secretary. A rumored drinking problem shortened her career.
      Her sister remains as head of the White House's Women's Outreach program.

Event 09-01-1963: Colonel Mildred Irene Clark became the 12th chief of the Army Nurse Corps, succeeding Colonel Margaret Harper who served 1959-63.

-------- Conway, Lady Anne Finch - often called the "forgotten woman of science" having written The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy.

-------- Crain, Gertrude - took over as chair of the Crain Communications publishing company after her husband's death and operated it for more than 20 years.
      The group publishes such journals as Advertising Age, Automotive News and Electronic Media. In 1982, GC was a founding member of the Committee of 200 which brought together the top 200 women business owners and executives of the country for networking.

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      "There was only one will in our home and that was my father's."
            -- Lucy Stone (1818-1893) who worked as a schoolteacher to pay her way through Oberlin College.

      "This is a book about a woman's inner life. Here, we are our real selves, while in the outer world we are impostors. We're not sure why we're posing, except we have no clue how not to. We have forgotten the part we came here to play. We have lost the key to our own house. We're hanging out outside the door. The stress of being away so long from home is hurting us, even killing us. We must not stay away; we must find the key. For until we do, we will continue to shrivel - our faces, our breasts, our ovaries, our stories. We are drooping down and falling apart. If we knew how to moan, they would hear us on the moon.
      "But the dirt around us is moving, making room for tiny sprouts. Like every woman, I know what I know. Something is starting to happen. New things lie in store for the earth, and one of them is us. Womanhood is being recast, and we're pregnant, en masse, giving birth to our own redemption."
            -- Marianne Williamson, A Woman's Worth, New York: Random House, 1993.

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