December 11 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Annie Jump Cannon, whose progress in her chosen field of astronomy was sometimes thwarted because of her gender or deafness. She worked more than 40 years at the Harvard Observatory. She developed a classification system adopted by the international astronomical community -- and did not receive a full faculty appointment at Harvard until she was 75 years old. Learn more: Annie Jump Cannon
Kate Chase, the daughter of Salmon P. Chase, became his official hostess first in Ohio when he was governor and later in Washington, DC, when he was a cabinet official. She was at his side and helping as he tried in 1860, 1864 and 1868 to secure a nomination for president. In the war years, she rivaled Mary Todd Lincoln as a popular hostess in Washington, and the two disliked each other. Was Kate Chase's marriage politically ambitious or did she marry money to help her father's ambitions? Whatever her reason, the marriage did not turn out at all well, leading to scandal and, ultimately, poverty. Learn more: Kate Chase Sprague
Her music has been popular lately -- medieval hymns and song cycles by a woman composer, often featuring positive feminine images -- but Hildegard of Bingen was more than a composer. She was a writer, a leader, an organizer, a prophetic visionary, a critic of secular and religious leaders if she thought they were behaving badly -- and quite the independent woman, though basing her independence on following the commands of God. Read more about this Superwoman of medieval times: Hildegard of Bingen
British and American polls say that many people cannot name even one famous woman scientist. How many can you name?
Medieval noblewomen usually had little power other than through their relationships with men: husbands, fathers, brothers, sons. Constance of Castile is an example: she was the legitimate heir of her father, Pedro (the Cruel) of Castile, though Enrique (Henry) usurped the Castilian throne. Constance married the powerful and wealthy fourth son of England's Edward III, John of Gaunt, and John fought for years to become king of Castile, justified by his marriage to Constance. Read more: Constance of Castile
Griswold v. Connecticut was important to feminism. Find out how Griswold v. Connecticut supported women, birth control, marital privacy and Roe v. Wade.
Three feisty voices in the feminist movement of the late 20th century were Germaine Greer (of The Female Eunuch among other writings), Jill Johnston (Lesbian Nation), and Andrea Dworkin, who took on pornography as inherently anti-woman. Their voices and perspectives are examples of the diversity within the large feminist circle. Here are some quotes from these three women, illustrating the positions they took that were often controversial, inside and outside of the feminist movement:
Sarah Josepha Hale is credited with getting Thanksgiving established as a national holiday. Her letter to President Lincoln in 1863 -- 150 years ago -- was part of her long campaign.
Suggested for further exploration:
- Text of this letter: Sarah Josepha Hale to President Abraham Lincoln, 1863
- 1858 magazine column promoting a national day of thanksgiving by Sarah Josepha Hale: Our National Thanksgiving
- Over the River and Through the Wood: the Story of Lydia Maria Child
- All 12 verses: A Boy's Thanksgiving Day
- An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving
She was the second First Lady of the United States (though that title was not used until much later); she's also known today for her assertions of women's rights in letters to her husband, John Adams. Abigail Adams is one of two First Ladies who were also mothers of presidents.
First Lady Jacqueline "Jackie" Bouvier Kennedy -- later Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis -- was at the center of public attention after her husband was assassinated 50 years ago. She carried out with dignity her role as First Lady, and her role as widow and mother of two bereaved children, capturing the respect of a nation and the world.
- Biography of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
- Quotes from Jackie Kennedy Onassis
- Caroline Kennedy
- Kennedy Family at Christmas 1962
- Book List