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September 20

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.

Hypatia of Alexandria was martyred to being a woman and a scientist.


QUOTE by Henry Ibsen.

Hypatia of Alexandria was martyred to being a woman and a scientist.

hypatia.gifBorn in 370 AD, Hypatia's scientific inventions include the hydrometer to measure the specific gravity of liquids, the plane astrolabe that measures astronomical positions and solves spherical astronomical problems, and several methods of distillation.
      In addition to her scientific work, she was a noted lecturer and writer. Her Arithmetica was a 13-volume definitive study of algebra.
      In 389 AD, Christian religious fanatics who felt scientific study was antithetical to religious dogma burned the famed Serapeum Library of Alexandria. In 412 AD, a group of monks killed Hypatia in a particularly gruesome manner because SHE(!) as a woman had scientific ability, fame and influence. Christian historian Socrates Scholasticus describe the murder in terrible detail: they tore the flesh from her bones with sharp shells while she was still alive, cut her in pieces and then burned the flesh into ashes. Such religious fanaticism would lead the glowing western civilization into the thousand-year-long Dark Ages that women in particular should study for the causation and propagation of anti-woman attitudes.
      According to Hypatia's Heritage, a History of Women in Science from Antiquity through the Nineteenth Century by Margaret Alic, Beacon Press, Boston, who cited research by Edward Gibbon and J. M. Rist:

"The murderers and torturers of Hypatia were Parabolands, fanatical monks of the Church of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, possibly aided by Nitrian Monks. Whether Cyril, Patriarch of Alexander (who was madly jealous of Hypatia's influence) personally ordered the murder remains an open question. At the very least he created a political climate that made such an atrocity possible. Cyril was later canonized."

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B. 09-20-1752, the Countess Albany, Louise Maximilienne Caroline, wife of Prince Charles Edwards who lost his attempt to be named King of England as a Stuart. She turned to the Italian poet Vittorio Alfieri and later French painter Francois Fabre when her 32-year older husband returned to his drunken debauchery ways after their marriage. Her importance as an individual was her ability to draw important people to her salons in Florence, Italy.

B. 09-20-1822, Elizabeth Smith Miller, designed and wore the short skirt over Turkish trousers that was adopted by members of the budding mid-19th Century U.S. women's movement. A similar costume had been designed earlier, but it was actually Miller's design which Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Amelia Bloomer copied. The males press in the too often way of not letting facts stand in the way of a good story, dubbed the style "bloomers" rather than "miller" since bloomers was an original word. ESM wore the costume for years but under pressure eventually went back to conventional women's floor-length, full skirted dresses that often weighed as much as 30-40 pounds.
      Raised in a well- to-do home with visitors who ranged from Oneida Indians to the cream of New York State's society (and a stop for runaway slaves), she was a cousin of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Her father was an abolitionist and her husband joined her in signing the call for the first Women's Rights Convention in 1848. She developed the short skirt - four inches below the knee worn over full length Turkish trousers - after, it is said, she got disgusted with skirts trailing in dirt and dust.
      Her cousin, Elizabeth Cady, immediately adopted the costume. Amelia Bloomer wrote about it in her magazine The Lily and gained a large jump in circulation. Fanny Kemble, the great actor who was a noted lesbian, had wore such a costume years earlier. Miller persistently wore the dress/trouser combination for many years even after others in the women's movement had abandoned it.
      She wrote,
"until, after a period of some seven years, I quite 'fell from grace and found myself again in the bonds of the old swaddling clothes." Not only were the wearers of the costumes ridiculed but the clothes were ungainly to wear since the skirts (or trousers) was an addition to the normal multilayered clothing of the times.
      Although she never became one of the leading activists of the women's suffrage movement, she became a close friend of Susan B. Anthony and a noted financial supporter. Her book In the Kitchen (1875) contained not only cooking recipes, but also etiquette and moral direction.

B. 09-20-1883, Ruth Frances Woodsmall, General Secretary of the World's Young Women's Christian Association as well as in other capacities with the Y for more than 30 years. She was a women's rights activist. A brilliant woman, she taught before going to France with the YWCA and after World War I studied conditions in the Germanic-Polish areas which extended the Y system there. She headed the Y in the Near East including Turkey and Egypt and did extensive studies into social conditions there. With additional study time, she published the important Moslem Women Enter a New World (1936) and the Eastern Women Today and Tomorrow (1933) about women in the Far East.
      She served as a staff specialist with the YWCA board before becoming the general secretary of the World's YWCA in Geneva, Switzerland where her extensive knowledge about the changing conditions of women in the world was extended even further by close studies in Europe and Latin America. Her reports to the Y board were critical in directing its energies and the organization's work following World War II.
      She was Chief of Women's Affairs for the U.S. armed forces in Germany through 1954, and adviser for the UN Commission on the Status of Women through the pioneering years of the 40s and early 1950s. Known not only for her scholarship and extraordinary diplomacy, RW is one of the cadre of women almost unknown in the U.S. who did extraordinary work on the work stage.
      Her mother who was raised as a Southern gentlewoman taught to support her children when her husband died when RFW was six. RFW never married and her ashes are scattered in Geneva near the Y headquarters.

Event 09-20-1884: The Equal Rights party, a national political party, was founded in San Francisco. Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood and Marietta Lizzie Bell Stow were its presidential and vice-presidential candidates. Victoria Woodall is credited with being the first "presidential" candidate who was also a woman. She had herself declared a candidate in 1872 at a small gathering in New York. Woodall then named black abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass as her running mate without his approval and he never acknowledged the honor. Lockwood's group was much larger.

B. 09-20-1886, Mae Ella Nolan, U. S. Representative to Congress from the 1923-1925. She was elected to fill the seat of her dead husband and then reelected for one more term. She declined to run again. Although her tenure was brief, she went into the record books as the first woman to chair a House of Representatives committee. She enabled The Palace of Fine Arts to be transferred from the federal government to the City of San Francisco.

Born 09-20-1886, Sister Elizabeth Kenny, Australian nurse who exercised the limbs of polio victims instead of immobilizing them and had remarkable success in preventing or limiting the paralysis. Even with her record becoming known worldwide, it still took almost 30 years for the medical authorities to finally recognize her system in 1941. She eventually set up a clinic in the U.S. in 1942 to great fanfare. The term sister is the British word for head nurse with no religious overtones.
      Some say that she developed her unorthodox style of polio treatment because she was working in the isolated outback of Australia and not aware of modern medical practices, but the fact is that she continued to do it AFTER she learned of the immobilization treatment. Common sense had told her that exercising muscles could help keep them from atrophying - a treatment that is used today for all bedridden people.

B. 09-20-1888, Sue Sophia Dauser, superintendent of U.S. Navy Nurse Corps during WWII holding the relative rank of captain, the highest naval rank held by a woman to that time. She campaigned for and finally won equal pay and full military rank for American nurses in the Armed forces gaining the cooperation of U.S. Congressional Representative Frances Bolton, who by training, was also a nurse. SSD nursed President Warren G.Harding during his fatal (and controversial) illness. She served tours of duty during World War I.

B. 09-20-1899, Anna Lord Strauss, president National League of Women Voters (1945-50) and U.S. delegate to the United Nations. ALS traced her ancestry to Lucretia Mott on her mother's side.

B. 09-20-1902, Stevie Smith, pseudonym of Florence Margaret Smith, much underrated British poet who did her own book illustrations. She gained popularity with her readings during the 1960s and she had her own radio show. In contrast to some more flamboyant poets, her life appears unexciting. She worked as a secretary in London to support herself and her aunt, living her entire life in the same house with her beloved aunt who lived to 96. SS quit her job to working at home and care for her aunt who died in 1968, only three years before SS died at 69. SS's poetry is filled with unexpected rhythms and rhymes and a wonderful, almost childlike honesty.

B. 09-20-1928 Dr. Joyce Brothers, American pop-psychologist who became famous through an appearance on a TV quiz show.

B. 09-20-1929, Anne Meara, U.S. entertainer.

B. 09-20-1934, Sophia Loren, Italian-American actor of great earthy beauty and outstanding acting ability. SL won Academy Award for her work in Women (1961) and was nominated for her work in Marriage Italian Style (1964). She got her start in Italian movies as a sex-kitten, developed into a strong actor, and aged into a role model.
      She was the daughter of an unmarried woman in Naples and grew up under the hardships of the Mussolini dictatorship and World War II - and social ostrization.
      In 1991, SL was awarded an honorary Oscar for her outstanding career. Her Italian comedies, especially Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (1963) show her great versatility. Has there ever been another scene in movies to compare with her triumphant, blatantly
"I am woman" march through the streets of the Italian city to the chorus of "She gotta the belly!"

B. 09-20-1946, Rosalyn Baker, legislative aide to Hon. Karen Homita Hawaii House of Representatives, elected to her own seat 1989-93 and then became a member of the Hawaii state senate 1994-.

DIED 09-20-1960, Ida Rubinstein, Russian-born, beautiful and talented dancer and patron of the performing arts. Instead of being a pretty plaything, she used her large inheritance to commission ballet productions including the music Ravel's Bolero and La Valse, as well as works by Debussy, and Stravinsky. Although her dancing was not in the class with Anna Pavlova, she was the premier dancer in a number of famed productions. Her ballet company was highly successful. She turned to drama in her later career but retired in her 40s to live on the French Riviera.

Event 09-20-1974: Gail A. Cobb, 24, and black, is the first woman police officer in the United States to be killed in the line of duty. She was shot while pursuing a suspect in Washington, D.C.

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      "There are two kinds of moral law, two kinds of consciences, in men and women, and they are altogether different. The two sexes do not understand each other. But in practical life, the woman is judged by man's law as if she were a man, not a woman."             --Henry Ibsen in his notes for A Doll's House, 1878

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