Mythbusting the Founding Mothers

July 14th, 2017

We all can picture the Founding Fathers, gathered in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, debating what to do about tyrannical Britain, and finally signing their names onto the Declaration of Independence. But what about the Founding Mothers? Often the women of revolutionary America are entirely forgotten. But women were alive during the Revolutionary War and did things worthy of remembrance just like male counterparts. During this time women were often relegated to the home and expected to behave and not make waves. But did they? Let’s examine some myths about women during the Revolutionary War and try to find the truth.

  1. Women did not own businesses or have employment outside of the home.

This one is unequivocally false. Thousands of women in colonial America had paying jobs outside of the home. Some even ran their own businesses. Just two such women were Betsy Ross and Mary Katharine Goddard.

Mary Katharine Goddard’s name at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence. Source: Library of Congress

Mary Katharine Goddard’s name at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence. Source: Library of Congress

Mary Katharine Goddard is someone you’ve probably never heard of. She owned a publishing house in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to her printing business, she ran the Baltimore post office, a bookstore, and published a newspaper, the Maryland Journal. Goddard was the first printer to publish the Declaration of Independence in its entirety. Previously only the text of the declaration and John Hancock’s name had been printed. With Goddard’s printing, all the signers names were included and she included her name at the bottom as well, making her a defacto signer of the Declaration. By including her name, she was putting herself at risk for treason charges as well. Goddard bravely used her company in aid to the Revolution at a time when women in business and politics was rare

“Then, now, and forever!” c. 1908. Credit: E. Percy Moran Source: Library of Congress

“Then, now, and forever!” c. 1908. Credit: E. Percy Moran Source: Library of Congress

Betsy Ross, along with her husband John Ross, were upholsterers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She actively worked and made money as an upholsterer and may have sewn and sold flags during the last few years of the Revolutionary War. One of the Ross’ best-known customers was General George Washington. According to period sources, on September 23, 1774, Washington made a payment for three bedcoverings to “Mr. Ross the upholsterer” in Philadelphia. It is more than likely that Mrs. Ross assisted in the creation of these bedcoverings for Washington.

Side Myth: While Betsy Ross was an upholsterer and may have made flags, there is little to no evidence to support the claim that she made the first American flag at the behest of General Washington. The first mention of Ross making the flag comes from her grandson, William Canby, in 1870. He introduced his evidence to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in the hopes that his grandmother would be remembered for her accomplishments. His evidence was made up of affidavits from family members, none of whom were alive when the supposed flag making took place. Canby claimed that he heard his grandmother time and again tell the story of how Washington came to her to ask her to make the flag. Unfortunately, there is no definitive historical evidence that can be found tying Washington and Ross to the creation of the American flag. We may never know exactly how, when, and by whom, the first American flag was created but we do know that she had a job that brought in money.

  1. Women were not involved in the war efforts and did not participate in the Revolutionary War.
Molly Pitcher. c. 1911 Credit: E. Percy Moran Source: Library of Congress

Molly Pitcher. c. 1911 Credit: E. Percy Moran Source: Library of Congress

False! In fact, women were a constant presence in military camps throughout the Revolutionary War. There were thousands of camp followers including women and children. They were there for different reasons. Some were following their husbands or another male family member, while others were looking for steady employment and got jobs as laundresses or cooks. Martha Washington, for instance, stayed at every winter encampment with her husband during the war. While in camp, she formed sewing circles to make socks and clothing for the soldiers and organized aid and supplies for the hundreds of ailing men. Not all women stayed in camp though. There were some who actually got involved in the fighting and served in the thick of battles. Deborah Sampson, Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, and Margaret Cochran Corbin were just some of the women known to have fought on the front lines.

Deborah Sampson was a teacher and a weaver, but in 1782, after years of war, she decided to join the fight. She dressed as a man and joined the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment as Robert Shurtleff. She was an adept soldier, participating in hand-to-hand combat and even leading a group to capture 15 men holed up in a Tory home. At one point, Sampson was shot in the left thigh and to escape detection she dug the bullet out herself. She was finally discovered about a year and half into her service when she became ill and lost consciousness. Sampson was honorably discharged on October 23, 1783 and received a pension from the Massachusetts government for her military service.

Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley and Margaret Cochran Corbin have very similar stories: both women were camp followers; both women were tasked with bringing water to the front lines during battle; and when their husbands collapsed, both women stepped up to man the cannons and continued fighting until the battle concluded. McCauley (Hays at the time) was at the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778. Her husband collapsed from supposed heat exhaustion while manning his cannon, she stepped up, and took her husband’s place. Multiple soldiers at that battle corroborate McCauley’s story.

Corbin was at the Battle of Fort Washington on November 16, 1776 when her husband was killed. Her story is a bit different because she was wounded in the process, sustaining three gunshot wounds. Corbin survived the battle and successfully gained a pension along with a clothing allowance. After her death in 1800, she was buried along the shore of the Hudson River but was later reinterred at the United States Military Academy at West Point, the only female Revolutionary War veteran buried there. Both McCauley and Corbin are believed to be the inspiration for the legend of Molly Pitcher.

  1. Women were demure, stayed at home, and did not get involved in political discourse or activities.
Political cartoon satirizing the women involved in the Edenton Tea Party. Published March 25, 1775 in London. Credit Robert Sayer and John Bennett Source: Library of Congress

Political cartoon satirizing the women involved in the Edenton Tea Party. Published March 25, 1775 in London. Credit Robert Sayer and John Bennett Source: Library of Congress

This could not be more wrong. While many or most women did shy away from political discourse and public acts, there are many examples that prove this was not universally the case. The best example comes from the Edenton Tea Party. We all know of the December 16, 1773 Boston Tea Party that was accomplished by an all-male band of Massachusetts colonists. The Edenton Tea Party occurred about a year later in Edenton, North Carolina. A group of 51 women, led by Penelope Barker, gathered for a meeting of the Edenton Ladies Patriotic Guild on October 25, 1774. They drank a concoction of local tea referred, to as “balsamic Hyperion,” and drafted a notice of protest against the British Tea Act of 1773. They wrote up a resolution stating their displeasure with the taxes and vowed to not buy British tea or cloth. News of the resolution made its way throughout the colonies and over to England where political cartoons satirizing the women were published. There is even some evidence that women took this a step further and burned their tea in Wilmington, North Carolina sometime in 1775.

On the other side of the fight was Molly Brandt, who was deeply involved in the Revolutionary War as a Loyalist. Brandt was a Mohawk Indian who spent a considerable amount of time gathering Native support for the British. She believed that native peoples would be best treated under British rule and she successfully brought five of the six Iroquois tribes to the British side. Because of her Loyalist leanings, her property in New York was taken by Patriots and she, along with thousands of other Mohawks, fled across the border to the Canadian frontier in November 1777. After the war Brandt and her brother Thayendanegea (also known as Joseph) successfully petitioned the British government for a pension. Today, Brandt is known as one of Canada’s Founding Mothers.

There are many myths surrounding Founding Mothers. By examining just a few myths, it is easy to see that women were involved in almost every aspect of the Revolutionary War. The women mentioned above, and countless others, all helped to shape this country into what it is today. They played a significant role in the political discourse of the era at a time when women were expected to stay home and take care of the family. While their stories may have been fictionalized over time, these women should be remembered for their lasting impact on America since the founding of this country.


By Kenna Howat, Program Assistant


Further Reading





First Ladies Timeline

July 14th, 2017

“First Ladies Man” Q&A

July 14th, 2017

We tried to stump the “First Ladies Man,” Andrew Och! Did he know which First Lady was the first to keep her career after marriage? Or who bought the first official White House China? Learn more about his work by visiting

Take our First Ladies quiz here and find out how well you know the First Ladies.

Coverture — The Word You Probably Don’t Know But Should

July 14th, 2017

By:  Catherine Allgor, Ph.D.

My mother-in-law loves this story.  A few years ago, my husband, Andrew, and I went to apply for a mortgage.  As a candidate for a house mortgage–and this is the part my mother-in-law loves–I characterize myself as “greater” than my husband.  I am older, I have a longer work history, I am more senior in our common profession (we are both professors), I also make more money.  I’ve got a longer credit history than he and have owned more houses.  Finally (though this is a matter of dispute), I am even a teeny bit taller.

Abigail Adams

But the only qualification that mattered in this transaction was my status as “wife.”  When our broker filled out our application, she listed Andrew first, as the “borrower” and me second, as “co-borrower.” (Did I mention that my last name starts with “A” and his with “J”?).  When I pointed this out, our broker, a woman of a certain age with long experience in her profession, sympathized, but stated that if she had made me the primary borrower, the lawyers would “fuss” at her and just revert to the traditional categories.  “Honey,” she told me, a professor of women’s history, “it’s a man’s world.”

Point taken.  What I had just encountered was a vestige of the legal practice of coverture.  This is a term most Americans don’t know but it has been a goal of mine to ensure that all literate, well-educated Americans be as familiar with the idea of coverture as they are with other historical terms such as “liberty,” “democracy,” and “equal rights.”

Coverture is a long-standing legal practice that is part of our colonial heritage.  Though Spanish and French versions of coverture existed in the new world, United States coverture is based in English law.Coverture held that no female person had a legal identity. At birth, a female baby was covered by her father’s identity, and then, when she married, by her husband’s.  The husband and wife became one–and that one was the husband.  As a symbol of this subsuming of identity, women took the last names of their husbands.  They were “feme coverts,” covered women.  Because they did not legally exist, married women could not make contracts or be sued, so they could not own or work in businesses.  Married women owned nothing, not even the clothes on their backs.  They had no rights to their children, so that if a wife divorced or left a husband, she would not see her children again.

Married women had no rights to their bodies.  That meant that not only would a husband have a claim to any wages generated by his wife’s labor or to the fruits of her body (her children), but he also had an absolute right to sexual access.  Within marriage, a wife’s consent was implied, so under the law, all sex-related activity, including rape, was legitimate.  His total mastery of this fellow human being stopped short, but just short, of death.  Of course, a man wasn’t allowed to beat his wife to death, but he could beat her.

Now, the law doesn’t always reflect real life, and in truth, practice ensured that coverture on the ground was not as restrictive as the black-letter law indicated.  Though a woman could own nothing, men who wanted to pass on their wealth through their daughters to grandchildren, devised ways to keep money and property out of the hands of sons-in-law.  The demands of commerce also played their own parts.  Though a woman could not make a contract, plenty of women did business and trade, either on their own, in a legal exception called “feme sole,” or for absent husbands.  Wives often ran businesses alongside their mates, with the local community acting as monitors and enforcers.  Finally, we must assume that though husbands had the right to marital relations at will, that there was a great deal of negotiation around sex.

Coverture was what Abigail Adams was talking about in her famous “Remember the Ladies” letter to John, written in the spring of 1776 as he and the Continental Congress were contemplating what an independent America would look like.  Contrary to popular assumptions, she was not asking John for the vote or for what we would understand to be

Dr. Catherine Allgor

“equal rights.”  Rather, when she advised:  “Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could,” Abigail was talking about the absolute power husbands held in coverture.   Abigail even obliquely referred to the shame of physical abuse when she proposed: “Why then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the Lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity (?)”

John’s reply dismissed her plea as a joke–he called it “saucy”–but in later correspondence with other lawmakers, he worried about the issue.  If the American colonists

had a right to rebel against their “virtual representation” in Parliament, why should women be virtually represented by men?  But the issue was too thorny for the men of the time and so, even as they created a shiny new machine of government, with a Constitution and modern systems of law on both the federal and state levels, they allowed the creaky, premodern device of coverture to remain on the books.

So what happened to coverture? The short answer is that it has been eroded bit by bit.  But it has never been fully abolished.  The ghost of coverture has always haunted women’s lives and continues to do so.  Coverture is why women weren’t regularly allowed on juries until the 1960s, and marital rape wasn’t a crime until the 1980s.  Today’s women encounter coverture during real estate transactions, as I did, in tax matters, and in a myriad of other situations around employment and housing.  Encounters with coverture can be serious, but often they are just puzzling annoyances, one more hoop to jump.  Still, the remnants of coverture are holding us back in unsuspected ways.

Only a few historians and attorneys have understood the impact. What to do? Well, it took a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery and may well take such to free women from this vestige of the past.  Educating the public about the meaning and impact of coverture will be a foundational role for the National Women’s History Museum.  And that’s just for starters.

For more information, a great book that gives the history of coverture and American women’s citizenship is: Linda K. Kerber, No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship (New York:  Hill and Wang, 1999).

Dr. Allgor is a Professor of History at the University of California at Riverside and has the distinction of serving as UC Presidential Chair–2009-12

Quiz: How well do you know the First Ladies?

July 12th, 2017


Baseball’s Unsung Heroines

June 27th, 2017
Bloomer Girls circa 1919. Source: Library of Congress

Bloomer Girls circa 1919. Source: Library of Congress

While baseball is largely a male dominated sport today, the first team at any level to be paid to play baseball was an all-female African American team, the Philadelphia Dolly Vardens. The team played in long-sleeved calico dresses, high button shoes, and red jockey caps. The Dolly Vardens were paid to play baseball two years before the first men’s team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, formed in 1869. After Amelia Bloomer designed her famous Turkish-style pants, women donned the new clothes, took to the ball park as “Bloomer Girls,” and traveled the country competing against both male and female teams. Numerous women earned their living playing baseball from the 1890s until the early 1930s. Yet public opinion still reflected an entrenched belief that baseball was far too dangerous and strenuous for the “delicate” female constitution.

During the 1930s in Tennessee, Joe Engel, owner of the AA minor league team the Chattanooga Lookouts, was always looking for ways to fill seats at games. Engel, known as the “Barnum of Baseball,” frequently used publicity stunts as a way to get larger audiences into his stadium, as attendance dropped due to the financial hardship of the Great Depression. He caught wind of 17-year-old Jackie Mitchell and though he could garner more publicity for the Lookouts by signing her to the team. Mitchell was an all-around athlete who played multiple sports including tennis, basketball, and boxing, but her favorite was baseball. As a child, she lived next to future Baseball Hall of Famer Dazzy Vance who coached her on the “drop ball” pitch which she used while playing for an all-girls team in Chattanooga. On March 25, 1931, Engel signed Mitchell to the Lookouts and promoted his team as the only professional baseball team with a female pitcher. One week later, Mitchell was called to the mound in her first professional game.

Jackie Mitchell in uniform. Source: Library of Congress

Jackie Mitchell in uniform. Source: Library of Congress

During the 1930s, it was common for major league teams to play exhibition games against minor league affiliates. On their way back to New York from their Spring Training facility, the New York Yankees stopped in Chattanooga on April 2, 1931 to play an exhibition game against the Lookouts. Pitcher Clyde Barfoot started the game for the Lookouts, but was pulled by the manager after giving up hits to the first two Yankees hitters. Mitchell was called into the game to face the next two hitters in the lineup: Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Mitchell’s first pitch to Ruth was a ball. Ruth then swung and missed the next two pitches and was caught looking for strike three. Gehrig struck out swinging on three consecutive pitches. Mitchell only had the “drop ball” in her pitching repertoire, but she used it successfully to strike out two of the greatest hitters in baseball history in just seven pitches. The crowd of 4,000 gave her a minutes-long standing ovation. She walked the next batter, though, at which point Barfoot returned to the game to replace her – and ended up losing 14-4.

Babe Ruth was not happy about the outcome of his at bat against Mitchell. He allegedly yelled at the umpire, kicked the dirt, and threw his bat after being called out on strikes. After the game, Ruth is quoted as saying, “I don’t know what’s going to happen if they begin to let women in baseball. Of course, they will never make good. Why? Because they are too delicate. It would kill them to play ball everyday.” Major League Baseball Commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, took Ruth’s side on the issue and voided Mitchell’s contract to play with the Lookouts, claiming baseball to be “too strenuous” for women.

Jackie Mitchell with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe Engel. Source: Library of Congress

Jackie Mitchell with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe Engel. Source: Library of Congress

Major League Baseball officially barred all women from the game on June 21, 1952. The All-American Girls Softball League was formed in 1943 and eventually became the 600-player-strong All-American Girls Baseball League (AAGBL) which played for twelve seasons. These teams were immortalized in the 1992 film, A League of Their Own, and the AAGBL finally dispelled the belief that the sport is not “too strenuous” for women.

After the AAGBL dissolved in 1954, few women were able to break the gender barrier. Toni Stone, Connie Morgan, and Mamie “Peanuts” Johnson played alongside men in the Negro Leagues, but a significant female representation in the sport has yet to materialize. In 1998, minor league pitcher Ila Borders became the first woman to win a professional game, but still could not break into the majors and retired two years later. In 2014, Mo’ne Davis became the first African American girl to play in, the first girl to pitch a winning game in, and the first girl to pitch a shutout game in the Little League Baseball World Series. As of 2017, she continues to be a rising star in the sports world and, although no one knows what the future holds, many believe she will be the first woman to play on a Major League Baseball team.


Originally published as “Baseball’s Unsung Heroines” by Cathy Pickles, April 9, 2012 and “Historical Women Who Rocked: Jackie Mitchell” by Elissa Blatmann, April 2, 2013.

Updated and republished by Kenna Howat, Program Assistant.


Biking, another American pastime, was influential in the women suffrage movement. Click here to read about the history of women and bicycles.


Further Reading:


Pedaling the Path to Freedom: American Women on Bicycles

June 27th, 2017

Although it seems very unlikely, bicycles had a revolutionary impact on the women’s movement of the early 20th century. Bicycles promised freedom to women long accustomed to relying on men for transportation. Suddenly, the relatively inexpensive and readily accessible technological innovation gave women more control over where they went and when.

Bicycles took American consumers by storm in the 1890s. At the turn of the century, trains, automobiles, and streetcars were growing in use in urban areas, but people still largely depended on horses for transportation. Horses, and especially carriages, were expensive and women often had to depend on men to hitch up the horses for travel. While horses were cheap to maintain in rural areas, owning a horse in a city was expensive, with extra costs for housing in stables and the upkeep of the animals. Surrounded by inefficient and expensive forms of travel, bicycles arrived in cities with the promise of practicality and affordability. Bicycles were relatively inexpensive and provided men and women with individual transportation for business, sports, or recreation.

Changes in style

The first wave of the women’s rights movement was well underway by the peak of the American bicycle craze in the 1890s. The bicycle, in many ways, came to embody the spirit of change and progress that the women’s rights movement sought to engender. In 1895, Frances Willard, leader of the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement, published a book entitled A Wheel within a Wheel: How I learned to Ride the Bicycle, which chronicled her quest to learn to ride the bicycle late in life to aid her deteriorating health. Although she died just three years later, Willard’s reflections on bicycle riding encouraged others. She decried the cumbersome and restrictive fashions of the day and called for more sensible and practical fashion for female bicyclists. Willard wrote:

“A woman with [bustle] bands hanging on her hips, and dress snug about the waist and chokingly tight at the throat, with heavy trimmed skirts dragging down the back and numerous folds heating the lower part of the spine, and with tight shoes, ought to be in agony. If women ride, they must…dress more rationally… If they do this, many prejudices will melt away. Reason will gain upon precedent and ere long the comfortable, sensible, and artistic wardrobe of the rider will make the conventional style of women’s dress absurd to the eye and un-durable to the understanding.”

Bike messenger in bloomers for the National Women’s Party Headquarters. Source: Library of Congress

Bike messenger in bloomers for the National Women’s Party Headquarters. Source: Library of Congress

Women soon found that the traditional dress of corsets, bustles, and long voluminous skirts impeded the supposed ease of bicycle travel. As Willard foreshadowed, this prompted a change in women’s fashion including lighter skirts, bloomers (sometimes known as divided skirts), or even trousers to allow for a less cumbersome ride. Bicycle riding came to embody the individuality women were working toward with the suffrage movement. It also gave women a mode of transportation and clothing that allowed for freedom of movement and of travel.

 Independence and self-reliance

Bicycles came to symbolize the quintessential “New Woman” of the late 19th century. The Progressive Era was a time of great social and cultural change in the United States and the “New Woman” embodied this change. Images reflected many of the new opportunities for careers and education that were becoming available. The “New Woman” was deemed to be young, college educated, active in sports, interested in pursuing a career, and looking for a marriage based on equality. She was also almost always depicted on a bike.

Credit: Frederick Burr Opper Source: Library of Congress

Credit: Frederick Burr Opper Source: Library of Congress

In an 1895, at the age of 80, suffragist leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton claimed that “the bicycle will inspire women with more courage, self-respect, self-reliance…” Stanton predicted the power of the bicycle in transforming the lives of women, realizing that the independence women were gaining because of this invention would allow for growth in other areas of their character. Having the ability to be fully self-reliant, often for the first time in their lives, would encourage women to be more courageous in other areas, such as demanding voting rights. Stanton’s friend and fellow suffragist leader, Susan B. Anthony, echoed Stanton’s sentiments. At 76, Anthony opined, “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

Women today, especially in the developing world, are gaining this same feeling of freedom and self-reliance as the “New Woman.” Bicycles allow women an escape from sexual harassment too often encountered on public transportation and provide an inexpensive means of travel in countries where access to automobiles and public transportation are limited. Multiple aid organizations donate bicycles to women as a means of liberation and teach them the skills to fix their own bike so they do not have to rely on men for help. Almost 200 years after its invention, bicycles continue to have a positive impact on women’s lives.


Originally published May 1, 2012.
Updated and republished by Kenna Howat, Program Assistant, June 2017.


Grilling, another American pastime, has long been considered a male dominated arena. Click here to read about why women should be just as involved in grilling activities as men.



To Grill or Not to Grill?

June 27th, 2017

The image of a woman outside grilling might raise some eyebrows. Today grilling is still considered to be a largely male pursuit and is a remaining bastion of stereotyped gender roles for women and men: “women cook, men grill.”

The stereotype is so pervasive that the Land O’ Lakes Company issued a press release a few years ago that probed this mysterious “female grilling phobia.” According to a study commissioned by the company, “more than 84 percent of women would be at least a little nervous or afraid to use the barbecue grill on their own.”

Why do women then fear the grill? After all, our foremothers have been cooking over fires from time immemorial! How did this stereotype gain popularity and why do we seem to be buying into it?

Advertisers and marketing companies have been selling us the notion of grilling as a backyard “male sport” since the 1940s. Ads often showed women were more suited to kitchen cooking and men more equipped for “rugged, outdoor cooking.

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Even in today’s commercials we still see these tried and old stereotyped depictions of men as the designated grill masters.

Elizabeth Karmel is working to change this stereotype. She is on a mission to get “Girls at the Grill.” She created the group to encourage girls and women to get in on the fun of grilling and outdoor entertaining. Karmel listed these five reasons why women should grill:

  1.  It’s fun!
    “Why do you think the guys kept it to themselves all these years?!”
  2. It tastes great too
    “Grilling is the best way to cook, bar none. There is no other cooking technique that gives you this much flavor for your effort. The natural caramelization and signature smokiness enhances almost every food. My motto is, ‘If you can eat it, you can grill it!’”
  3. Easy clean-up
    “Cooking outdoors is relaxing, casual and stress-relieving – just like a vacation! And the bonus is you get a great homemade meal with very little effort and almost no clean-up!”
  4. It’s does the body good
    “Seriously, grilling is intrinsically healthy. You aren’t sautéing in a lot of butter and oil, and you don’t need heavy sauces to give the food flavor. Grilling naturally intensifies the inherent flavors of the food, making it burst with flavor.

Meats, poultry and fish are a given, but the real transformation is with vegetables and fruit. Grilling turns vegetables from something you know you are supposed to eat to something craveable that you can’t stop eating. If you are accustomed to eating steamed asparagus, try it grilled and you will never eat it any other way!”

  1.  A cook-out is always a party
    “…And girls love parties! Whether you are grilling for just a few friends, or a crowd, cooking outdoors makes everyone happy and once your neighbors smell the grill, chances are they’ll invite themselves to join in the fun!”
Photo Credit: Fletcherjcm

Photo Credit: Fletcherjcm

So ladies, to grill or not to grill: that is the question?


By Sydnee C. Winston, Project Coordinator
Originally published May 2013

Updated by Jeanette Patrick, Program Manager
June 2017


Interested in finding out about another American past time? Click here to read about the woman who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Summer 2017 Women’s History Events

June 22nd, 2017

Coming to the DC area? Here are some Summer 2017 Women’s History Events

There are many wonderful museums in Washington, DC that have planned terrific women’s history programs this summer. Some of our favorites are listed below.

Walking Tours with National Women’s History Museum

National Women’s History Museum is excited to offer two unique walking tours. Women of Civil War Alexandria discusses women’s roles during the Civil War in Alexandria, Virginia. In Their Footsteps: Woman Suffrage follows the route of the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession through DC and discusses the struggle for equality and the right to vote that lasted over 72 years. Private tours are also available.

Click here to buy tickets.

The Hello Girls: America’s First Female Soldiers in War Abroad – and at Home at the Smithsonian

Join historian Elizabeth Cobbs as she discusses her newest book The Hello Girls. Her book tells the story of the first women to serve in the United States Army as part of the Signal Corps during World War I. Dr. Cobbs will be interviewed by Cokie Roberts to discuss the significance of the Hello Girls’ contribution to the Allied victory in World War I and the progression of women’s rights. The Hello Girls will be available for signing. Member pricing available. Charter Members contact to receive the promo code.

Click here to buy tickets.

Women of Mount Vernon Tour at George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Learn about some of the incredible women who lived and worked at Mount Vernon during George Washington’s time as well as the women who came later and were instrumental in saving and preserving Washington’s beloved home.

Click here to buy tickets.

Records of Rights at the National Archives

America’s founding documents – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights – are icons of human liberty. But the ideals enshrined in those documents did not initially apply to all Americans. Women, one of the largest groups of United States citizens, could not vote until 1920. Nevertheless, records from as early as 1804 show women organizing and striving for full equality. The exhibition showcases original and facsimile National Archives documents.

Click here to learn more.

196 Countries Solo, As A Woman

June 10th, 2017

At some point in our lives, we become inspired and almost transcended by the actions of others whom we look up to with awe. Some of us so much so, that we want to march to the beat of their drum, to frolic in their footsteps, and to taste the air that they breathe. Everything I had done in my life prior to Expedition 196, was with the intention that I had the ability to do anything men could do. I never wanted to succumb to the notion that; “just because I’m a woman, I’m automatically limited.” Flash forward to July 24th, 2015, my biggest fear was literally stepping foot on to the plane, and flying 38,000 feet in the air and over the Pacific to destination number one, Palau. At the bottom of my list of fears, was kidnapping, and that fear didn’t resurface until I was in country number 196: Yemen. Ironically, the prominent fear of kidnapping wasn’t that of my own, but of what others around me were telling me.

Credit: Cassie De Pecol

Credit: Cassie De Pecol

Research and tactical knowledge was what I needed to make this Expedition a success, and through research, came motivation and yearning that inevitably drove me to pursue this odyssey. Amelia Earhart, someone I’ve always looked up to, had been a woman of courage, fortitude, and unforgiving passion to forge her own path. Prior to my departure, when I was researching women who have traveled the world, there was one woman in particular who’s story really struck a chord. There’s a fascinating story about a woman named Jeanne Baret, who was the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. It baffled me that someone could do such a thing and stay safe, let alone as a woman in the mid 1700’s, with no modern technology. But the fascinating thing about it was that she did it dressed as a man. I wondered if this classified being able to have the bragging rights to say that she circumnavigated the world as a woman, but at the same time, you have to give her an immense amount of credit for being so crafty as to do so dressed as a man. How quirky yet meaningful in the way women viewed travel back then.

Credit: Cassie De Pecol

Credit: Cassie De Pecol

Back in 1890, Nellie Bly raced around the world in 72 days. Her story resonated with me because she broke Jules Verne’s fictional record of 80 days. She persisted as a journalist and female explorer, while at the same time being tested by her male counterparts as she attempted to get her story out there. What she did was intriguing to me in that sense as she paved the way into history.

Credit: Cassie De Pecol

Credit: Cassie De Pecol

There are some unavoidable conflicts that are impossible to avoid as a woman due to our genetic makeup, which scares me. With that said, the fear that we instill in our minds as women of something bad happening to us if we do something alone, is immense to the point of unnecessarily extreme fear. As women, it’s crucial to always be aware of our surroundings and know the dangers, but let us not allow fear to hold us back from pursuing anything from our dreams to the other side of the spectrum; what only men have done up until this point. Moving forward, I believe that it’s not necessarily group strength, coming together as women, but finding the strength within each and every one of us enough to love ourselves and have confidence enough to know ourselves and allow the fires within us to shine through our movements and actions, in a positive and influential way. Too often, we seek strength from others, when in truth; the strength we seek can be found within ourselves. Women, both young and old, are at the greatest advantage to push boundaries, test current limitations, and strive forward to shift our world in a positive direction for women empowerment. With each “risk” we take as individuals, be it traveling to 196 countries or strengthening our institutions with female driven power, we enhance and educate our world, leaving behind a legacy for future generations of young women. This is what is vital towards crafting a powerful future for womankind and adventurers alike.


By Cassie De Pecol  |  Expedition 196


Credit: Irvin Rivera | Graphics Metropolis

Credit: Irvin Rivera | Graphics Metropolis

Cassie De Pecol is a 27-year-old woman from the USA who in July of 2015, took off on a 196 country solo expedition in an effort to break a Guinness World Record to be the fastest person and first woman on record to travel to every country in the world. In February of 2017, she did just that. While spending the 18-month journey as a global Peace Ambassador and sustainable tourism advocate, she spoke to over 16,000 university students around the world across 40 countries, discussing the importance of women’s achievement and responsible tourism which encompassed the planting of trees to offset her carbon footprint, and collecting water samples to test for micro plastics. She broke two Guinness World Records; ‘Fastest Person’ and ‘Fastest Female’ to travel to every sovereign nation and will be publishing a memoir, launching a non-profit, and releasing an educational documentary in the near future. A triathlete and student of Krav Maga, Cassie’s goals have always been fitness/health focused, and during her travels she made it a priority to train as well as partake in distance races.Cassie hopes to inspire women of all ages and specifically future generations to pursue their passions through travel and living a healthy lifestyle.


Follow Cassie on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat: @cassiedepecol. Find her on Facebook, YouTube, and her website

Cassie De Pecol isn’t the only one encouraging women to spend time outside. Click here to read about a group that has been doing so for over 100 years