Archive for September, 2013

“Great American Women and Their Hats: Costumes From History”

September 5th, 2013

Laura Spears, a recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin’s MFA program in design and technology, has graciously donated a series of beautiful hats that she designed after historical women of inspiration. The hats will be auctioned at NWHM’s de Pizan Honors on October 9, 2013. Over the next three weeks (on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), we will feature a spotlight on each of the eight hats that will be auctioned. To start off the series, Ms. Spears shares her inspiration for creating the project: Read the rest of this entry »

#HistoricalWomenWhoRocked: Osa Johnson

September 3rd, 2013

Have you ever rubbed down with kerosene oil to ward off mosquitoes? How about burning off leaches that double  in size after sucking your blood? Remaining calm as two-inch cockroaches crawl over you as you sleep?

Well, adventurer, explorer and author Osa Johnson did all these incredible things and more! Osa and her husband, Martin, were pioneering explorers, photographers, filmmakers and authors, who documented the lives of the indigenous people and wildlife of the South Seas Islands, Borneo, and East and Central Africa.  Their films serve as a record of these cultures and a wilderness that no longer exist today.

Osa Leighty was born in Chanute, Kansas on March 14, 1894. On May, 15 1910, at the age of sixteen, she married Martin Johnson of Independence, Kansas.  Martin had recently returned from an excursion to the South Seas with Jack London, who became famous for his wilderness novels, and  was touring the country presenting travelogues of  the trip;  Osa joined the tour after she and Martin married.  It soon became apparent to Osa that her new husband was always going to want a life of adventure, and she was determined to stand as his equal and share it with him.  After several years of traveling around the country, they scraped together enough money for an expedition to the South Seas, where they intended to film the natives in their natural state, not influenced by outside cultures.

Their first expedition left from San Francisco on June 5, 1917 to the island of Malekula in the South Pacific island chain called New Hebrides, where the Big Nambas were considered as savage a group of headhunters and cannibals as existed anywhere on earth.  Once on Malekula, they ascended through steep, thick jungle with a crew of eight natives, a small amount of film equipment and a handful of goods for trade.  They soon found the Big Nambas, and while Osa tried to interest their chief, Nagapate, in their goods, Martin rolled the camera.  It became clear that Nagapate was more interested in Osa than in the goods she was offering, and the crew made a hasty retreat, scrambling down the steep path with the natives in quick pursuit.  Fortunately, they were rescued by a British patrol boat.  The resulting film, Among the Cannibals of the South Pacific, was released the next summer in 1918 to much acclaim. Read the rest of this entry »