The Liz Library presents Irene Stuber's Women of Achievement

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February 17

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber.

Inventor of the Cotton Gin?


QUOTES from History of Woman Suffrage and Los Angeles Times.

Catherine Littlefield Greene

      Born 02-17-1755, Catherine Littlefield Greene, perhaps the actual inventor of the cotton gin but every book on the subject differs as to the extent of her contribution. At the very least had the detailed idea of how it worked but gave it to hangabout Eli Whitney because at the time women didn't concern themselves with such things - and were not allowed to apply for patents.
      Eli Whitney lived on the Greene's plantation. Some books give credit for ideas to Greene's husbands. Another says she showed Whitney how to clear the device of seeds and thus made it practical. Another said it was her idea and she had Whitney, a mechanic, make the device and he patented it because a woman couldn't hold a patent at the time... who knows, but where there's smoke...

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B. 02-17-1879, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, writer, published extensively under both her birth name (Canfield) under her married name (Fisher). First woman appointed to the Vermont State Board of Education, popularized the Montessori method in the U.S., member of the first board of the Book-of-the- Month Club and served 1926-1951.

B. 02-17-1881, Bess Genevra Streeter Aldrich, award winning Nebraska novelist and short story writer who wrote of life on the plains and small towns. A Lantern in Her Hand (1925), and Miss Bishop (1933).

B. 02-17-1888, Dorothy Kenyon, attorney and longtime director of the ACLU, member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, opposed any women's equal rights amendment, opining women needed special legislation.

B. 02-17-1902, Mary Josephine Shelly, U.S. Air Force colonel who commanded the women in the Air Force during the Korean conflict.

B. 02-17-1902, Marian Anderson, described as the greatest voice of the 20th century. First woman of color to sing with the Metropolitan Opera. She sang with the major orchestras and opera companies of the world and performed before major heads of state. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.
      In 1939 when the Daughters of American Revolution (DAR) refused to allow her to sing in their hall because of her race, Eleanor Roosevelt, among others, quit the organization and organized an outdoor concert at the Lincoln Memorial instead. Since the event the DAR has announced that the "refusal" was not a refusal, claiming the hall had been rented for an unspecified, other event. The historical revisionism of the 1939 concert also extends to who sponsored the Lincoln Memorial event.

Event 02-17-1905, a statue by Helen F. Mears of the great educator and temperance leader Frances Willard is unveiled at the National Statuary Hall in Washington, DC. Willard is the first woman so honored.

B. 02-17-1914(?), Julia de Burgos, Puerto Rican poet and journalist.

B. 02-17-1924, (Mary) Margaret Truman, as a coloratura soprano her voice was so-so and subject to harsh criticism by the press. Her loyal father publicly told off one critic in rather harsh terms. This daughter of Harry Truman, president of the United States later turned to writing and has been the author of a number of "good read" mysteries.

B. 02-17-1939, Kathy Keeton, editor, writer, publisher, co-founder of OMNI magazine. Married to president of the General Media Publishing Corp (1991). Edited Viva and Penthouse and authored Woman of Tomorrow (1985) which encourages women to get into technological fields.

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      "While the general principles of the Bible are in favor of the most enlarged freedom and equality of the race, isolated texts have been used to block the wheels of progress in all periods; thus bigots have defended capital punishment, intemperance, slavery, polygamy, and the subjection of women. The creeds of all nations make obedience to man the cornerstone of (women's) religious character. Fortunately, however, more liberal minds are now giving us higher and purer expositions of the scriptures."
            -- Volume 1, History of Woman Suffrage, edited and written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Josyln Gage. 1881.

      "Anita Hill's televised testimony... before the Senate committee riveted the nation. Millions of women immediately recognized some part of her experience as their own. And the deep, visceral anger that she ignited has far from burned itself out. Now, one short year after her testimony, Anita Hill's legacy appears certain to be enduring."
            -- Los Angeles Times editorial, 1992

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© 1990-2006 Irene Stuber, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71902. Originally web-published at We are indebted to Irene Stuber for compiling this collection and for granting us permission to make it available again. The text of the documents may be freely copied for nonprofit educational use. Except as otherwise noted, all contents in this collection are © 1998-2009 the liz library.  All rights reserved. This site is hosted and maintained by the liz library.