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September 3

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


QUOTE by Prudence Crandall.

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

Part 4 of Dr. DiFonzo's review of the Michael Grossberg book exploring a Victorian Age custody battle

[This decision reveals for modern readers the traditional laws that gave full rights to children and total control of familial life to the father/husband. The woman/mother had no rights, not even to her own children following the death of the husband. He could will them away from their mother at his discretion.

WOA presents Part 4 of 5 parts 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.]

"Ellen significantly altered her legal posture from exploited wife to embattled mother in light of her counsel's discovery that Pennsylvania judicial precedent provided no recourse for wives qua wives, but did offer a safe custody harbor for mothers of very young children.
      "But Ellen's strategy also owed much to the antebellum cultural milieu, which had already begun to sanctify a separate sphere for motherhood. And Grossberg shows that Gonzalve shifted his focus away from Ellen's improper conduct in refusing to recognize his sovereignty.
      "In response to the narrow window of maternal preference opened by Pennsylvania custody cases, Gonzalve began to characterize his paternal rights as a check on standardless and unwarranted intrusion by judges into domestic arrangements. By expanding the canvas in this fashion, Grossberg succeeds on two fronts. He integrates client narratives into legal argumentation, and he incorporates the double helix of the law's "relative autonomy" and "partial independence" (pp. 121-22) into the larger narrative of social change.

"Social changes often simmer for years before boiling over, and Grossberg's analysis also suggests that mental cruelty, far and away the most popular twentieth-century divorce ground, began its long gestation as a component of the antebellum cultural separation between the sexes. [7] The legal definition of marital cruelty did not encompass the intense anguish Gonzalve supposedly caused Ellen. [8] But Grossberg shows how, in her quest for custody, Ellen and her attorneys were able to leverage mental cruelty into an accusation that Gonzalve had violated the standards of the changing American family, an institution groping its uncertain way from an institutional past to a companionate future.

"But in the point-counterpoint of their public struggle, Gonzalve and his counsel leveled the charge that continues to haunt advocates of this expanded divorce ground: mental cruelty has no logical boundaries.
      "An 1829 Kentucky court opinion, quoted by Grossberg, declared mental cruelty essentially non-justiciable, because of the law's inability to
"ascertain the operation of particular acts, upon the mind, and then trace the influences of the mind upon the body, in producing disease and death" (p. 45).
      "A century later, Dean Prosser acknowledged that mental cruelty
"is an inevitable accompaniment of any marriage which has been a failure." [9]
      "In Grossberg's telling, mental cruelty was primarily an element of the renegotiation of gender in the early Victorian era."

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

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B. 09-03-1499, Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II of France who was 20 years her junior. Beautiful, intelligent, and cultured, she exercised great influence over the king who totally ignored his wife, Catherine de Medicis. Diane was a patron of many artists and poets. She was treated more like the Queen of France than the real queen.

B. 09-03-1803, Prudence Crandall, white schoolteacher who in two trials (1833 and 1834) was convicted by State of Connecticut for teaching girls of color but the convictions were set aside by a legal technicality. The white community in the small city where PC lived had objected so openly about one young woman of Black African descent at her school that PC announced her intention to open a whole new school for "young ladies and little misses of color."
      The state legislature then passed a law forbidding the teaching of blacks without local approval that resulted in her arrest and imprisonment. She was released on a technicality. It is estimated that as many as 3,000 "free" Black families were living in Connecticut at the time. All the white families withdrew their children from her school. PC and her family were jeered and stoned in public.
      She married, perhaps thinking it would afford her protection, but her Baptist minister husband promptly sold her school without her permission and moved the couple to Illinois where she again established a school for young girls. She became a lecturer on abolition, temperance, and woman's suffrage.
      In 1887 with a resurgence of interest in the anti-slavery movement, the widowed Prudence Crandall was living in poverty in Kansas. The Connecticut General Assembly apologized for the pre-Civil War treatment of her and awarded her a $400-a-year pension. Arguments from her trials were used in the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court desegregation decision Brown v the Board of Education.

Event 09-03-1838: Anna Murray and Frederick Douglass were married. Murray, a free northern Black, connived, bribed, and otherwise planned, financed, and helped plan the escape of her future husband Frederick Douglass from the South and slavery.

B. 09-03-1849, Sarah Orne Jewett, U.S. writer of precision and amazing clarity who wrote reflectively of the life of the New England farmers and fishers. Her best works were in the short story form where her unsentimental revelations of the nuances of life became a much underrated influence on later writers although Willa Cather acknowledged her debt.
      SOJ's best known story collections are A White Heron and Other Stories (1886) and Deephaven (1877).
      Her lifelong partnership with Anne Adams Field openly described as a "Boston marriage" and was probably the inspiration for the Henry James novel The Bostonians.
      Her earliest works were signed "Alice Eliot" or "A. C. Eliot." A volume of her poetry was published posthumously.

B. 09-03-1868, Mary Park Follet, American writer. MPF developed a system/philosophy of interpersonal relations and industrial management that made her a much sought after lecturer in industrial and business matters. She saw neighborhoods gaining importance in an industrial society and a growing emphasis on increased individual responsibility. Her theories had a particular value to business and she lectured widely. Her basic philosophy is summed up in The New State (1918) and Creative Experience (1924).

B. 09-03-1891, Bessie Delany, the youngest of the centenarian Black American sisters who wrote the noted best seller Having Our Say (1993) with her older sister Sadie that chronicled their life and the changes of Black African American women over the past century.

B. 09-03-1900, Sally Benson, American author who wrote the bestseller Meet Me in St. Louis which later became a movie starring Judy Garland.

B. 09-03-1903, Marion Janet Harron, pioneer woman judge of the U.S. Tax Court, appointed 1936. She had a distinguished record in law before being appointed to the court at age 33. MJH at about age 40-42 had a love affair with Lorena Hickok while LH was living at the White House with ER, although LH's biography claims Harrons' love of Hickok appeared one-sided. MJH died of cancer in 1972.

B. 09-03-1910, Dorothy Maynor, Black U.S. opera soprano with a voice of liquid beauty. Astonishingly, that marvelous voice was housed in a body only 4'10". She debuted in 1939. Her interpretation of Louise is unsurpassed.

B. 09-03-1914, Kitty Carlisle (Hart), arts administrator for the State of New York (1976). A Broadway actor, she was a perennial panelist on the very popular TV show To Tell the Truth. Some sources have changed her birth date to 1915 or 1918.
      She was married to Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Moss Hart. She starred in a number of Broadway musicals and co-starred with Bing Crosby in several movies.

B. 09-03-1914, Dixy Lee Ray, in 1972 was the first woman appointed to the Atomic Energy Commission and in 1973 became the chair. Her Ph.D. was from Stanford. In 1976 she was elected governor of the State of Washington. She was described as colorful anhd outspoken by news reporters She was the associate professor at University of Washington, made a number of noted studies in marine biology. In 1963 she was appointed assistant secretary for oceans and environment with the Department of State.
      As an environmentalist she was concerned with effects of technological pollution/waste without sufficient ecological studies. Recipient of dozens of top awards for her ecological research, she continued writing after her public career. Her last book dealt with the dangers of acid rain.

B. 09-03-1920, Marguerite Higgins - One military man said "Maggie won mud like other women wore makeup." Indeed, war correspondent Marguerite Higgins was "in harm's way," actually in the mud of the battlefields more often in the three wars she covered than most soldiers ever were. She to administered blood to the wounded in that mud.
      Marguerite Higgins was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for foreign correspondence (1951), one of many she received for her outstanding coverage of the Korean War. She also witnessed the opening of the Buchenwald and Dachau death camps after being with our troops across France and Germany in World War II.
      MH won the New York Newspaper Women's Club award in 1945. Higgins was sent to Tokyo in May 1950, as the Far East bureau chief for the New York Herald Tribune.
      While MH was covering the Korean War on the front lines, Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker ordered all American women except Army nurses out of Korea. To make sure ML left, he personally escorted her to a waiting airplane. Higgins protested this unfair decision to Gen. Douglas MacArthur stating she was a journalist, not a woman. MacArthur quickly lifted the ban and wired her editors to indicate his support. "For me getting to Korea was more than just a story. It was a personal crusade. I felt that my position as a correspondent was at stake... I could not let the fact that I was a woman jeopardize my newspaper's coverage of the war."
      In all, MH won six major awards for her Korean War coverage. Her book War in Korea: The Report of a Woman Combat Correspondent (1951) was a best seller.
      Although she married and had two children, she continued to be a brilliant observer of world politics as she warned of Cuban military activity in 1962 and history proved her right. In 1965 she became highly critical of the American policy on Vietnam - and again history proved her right. She went to Vietnam ten times between 1953 and 1965 and was there to witness the 1954 French defeat. During her last trip to VietNam when she went out into the battle locations as usual, she contracted leishmaniasis, a tropical disease that killed her, 01-03-1966, age 45.

B. 09-03-1925, Alison Lurie, author and professor of English, Cornell University. AL won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for literature with her novel Foreign Affairs.

B. 09-03-1926, Anne Jackson, U.S. actor.

B. 09-03-1926, Irene Papas, Greek-American actor.

B. 09-03-1933, Eileen Brennan, U.S. actor.

Event 09-03-1935: Gretchen B. Schoenleber, became the first woman member of the New York stock exchange.

B. 09-03-1938, Caryl Churchill, British playwright.

B. 09-03-1938, Pauline Collins, U.S. actor.

B. 09-03-1943, Valerie Perrine, U.S.actor.

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Date of Birth sought for these women of achievement:

Elek, Ilona - probably the world's greatest woman fencer. This Hungarian fencer was only woman to win two Olympic gold medals: 1936 and 1948. No games were held between 1936 and 48 because of World War II. Amazingly at age 45 she won her first 20 Olympic matches in 1952 but tired in her final three and "only" won the silver, and was world foil champion in 1934, 35, and 51. Her closest rivals were American Maria Cerra and Danish Karen Lachmann.

Rene De Epelbaum, Argentine Protester - Founder of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo human-rights group. Beginning in 1977, the junta dictatorship of Argentinia abducted thousands of people. No word was heard from them again and they were presumed killed.
      RDE began holding meetings in her home with other mothers whose grown children had also disappeared. Her group soon held open protests in the main government square in Buenos Ares, the Plaza de Mayo. The protests continue weekly with women donning their trademark white head scarfs with the names of their missing children inked on them. About 9,000 bodies of those killed by the right-wing military junta were found in the mid-1980s but the mothers claims that the number was closer to 30,000 so the protests continue.
      RDE took her battle against the junta to the the world in speeches as well as writing extensively. She was a literature teacher.
      RDE was outraged when the government in 1989 pardoned the military officers who committed the atrocities.

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      "My life has been one of opposition. I never could find anyone near me to agree with me. Even my husband opposed me more than anyone. He would not let me read the books that he himself read, but I did read them. I read all sides and searched for the truth, whether it was in science, religion, or humanity."
            -- Prudence Crandall in 1887 at age 84.

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