Archive for the ‘Historical Women Who Rocked’ Category

Historical Women Who Rocked: Nellie Bly

July 1st, 2013

Did you know that in 1889, at the age of 24, journalist Nellie Bly circled the  globe by ship, train, burro and balloon in just 72 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes? That was a considerably shorter time than Jules Verne wrote about in his 1873 classic, Around the World in 80 Days.  Nellie’s global expedition is just one of many reasons why she was an historical woman who rocked! Here are some more:

Newspaper reporter Elizabeth Jane Cochran, pen name Nellie Bly, was the inventor of investigative reporting.  Born in May 1864, in Pennsylvania, Bly’s father was a prominent landowner, judge and businessman.  Bly was the thirteenth of his fifteen children (born to her father’s second wife).  Her father died when she was six years old, leaving her family in near poverty because he did not include his second family in his will.  After her mother ended a disastrous second marriage, Bly went to the Indiana Normal School at age 15 to become a teacher so she could help support her family.  However, she had to quit after one year because there was no more money to fund her education.  Bly and her mother moved to Pittsburgh, where they ran a boarding house.  Read the rest of this entry »

Historical Women Who Rocked: Jeannette Rankin

June 11th, 2013

Jeannette Rankin: suffragist, political leader and activist. June 11, 2013 marks Rankin’s 125th birthday. She was born in 1880 near Missoula, Montana, to schoolteacher Olive Pickering Rankin and Canadian immigrant carpenter, and rancher John Rankin.

Jeanette Rankin holds an esteemed place in United States history as the first woman elected to the House of Representatives and the only member of Congress to vote against two world wars. Rankin made a name for herself as a skilled lobbyist, organizer, politician, and pacifist. She fused her suffrage and pacifist leanings whiles organizing Washington’s suffrage campaign. As a lobbyist for NAWSA, Rankin organized and campaigned for woman suffrage in over fifteen states. Rankin successfully ran as Montana’s Republican candidate for the House of Representatives in 1917. She distinguished herself as a pacifist and a sponsor of protective legislation for women and children. She was the only congressperson to vote against the United States’ involvement in both World War I and World War II. Montanans were disillusioned with her pacifist stance and would not reelect her again until 1940. In the meantime Rankin worked for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the National Consumer’s League, and National Council for the Prevention of War. After World War II she continued her pacifist work and went to India to study Ghandi’s philosophies. She espoused antiwar sentiments again in the 1960s during the Vietnam War and made a final reemergence into national politics. Throughout her career Rankin compromised neither her belief in woman’s rights nor pacifism.

Historical Women Who Rocked: Mary Pickford

June 3rd, 2013

Long before Jennifer Aniston burst onto the scene in the 1990s as Hollywood’s favorite “it” girl, America had another sweetheart: Mary Pickford. With her lush blond curls and sweet smile, she captivated the hearts of many American moviegoers with her convincing portrayals of innocence on the silver screen.

Mary Pickford was born Gladys Smith in 1892, in Toronto, Canada.  After the death of her father, Pickford became an actress at age six to help support her family while her mother took in boarders and sewing work.  Over the next nine years, Pickford acted in vaudeville sketches, melodramas, and road show productions throughout the United States, escorted by her family.  Through her own ambition and hard work, in 1907, at the age of fifteen, Pickford impressed one of Broadway’s most famous producers, David Belasco, and acted in his play The Warrens of Virginia.  It was Belasco who suggested she change her name from Gladys Smith to Mary Pickford.

Read the rest of this entry »

Historical Women Who Rocked: Sojourner Truth

May 28th, 2013

Today marks the 162nd anniversary of abolitionist, suffragist, and former slave, Sojourner Truth’s impassioned speech at the Women’s Rights Convention, known today as the “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech. The convention was held in Akron, Ohio on May 28-29, 1851. Truth’s words portrayed women as strong, resilient and intelligent, and called into question the institution of slavery.

Read her speech below: Read the rest of this entry »

Historical Women Who Rocked: Amelia Earhart

May 20th, 2013

Did you know that today marks the 81st anniversary that Amelia Earhart became the first woman to complete a solo transatlantic flight in less than 15 hours? Now there’s an historical woman who rocked!

Amelia was born in Kansas in 1897, and lived in Iowa and Minnesota before graduating from high school in Illinois.  She did a semester of work at a small college in Pennsylvania then went to Canada to work in a military hospital during World War I.  It was there that she met aviators and developed her lifelong love of flying. Read the rest of this entry »

Historical Women Who Rocked: Katherine Siva Saubel

May 6th, 2013

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Katherine Siva Saubel was a member of the Cahuilla Indian tribe of California and one of the last speakers of the Cahuilla language.  As a child, Saubel attended a public school where she was told to speak only in English and saw other Native American children beaten for speaking their native language.  Though she witnessed the firsthand affects of not abandoning her background, she felt it was important to preserve the Cahuilla language and she spent a lifetime ensuring her culture was not erased from history. Read the rest of this entry »

Historical Women Who Rocked: Betty Skelton

April 22nd, 2013

Photo credit: Public domain

When she was 10 years old, Betty Skelton asked her parents for flying lessons.  She flew solo in a plane for the first time when she was 12 and received her pilot’s license when she was 16.  In 1946, when she was 20, she embarked on a career performing in aerobatics shows because women were not allowed in commercial aviation.  As an aerobatics performer, Skelton was a three-time women’s international aerobatics champion and she broke two altitude world records.  One of her most infamous feats was completing the “inverted ribbon cut,” where a pilot flies a plane upside down 12 feet above the ground to cut a ribbon hanging between two poles.  She was the first woman to pull off the stunt.

In the 1950s, Skelton began her second career as a race car driver after meeting the founder of NASCAR.  She was the first female test driver and the first female Indy race car driver.  She set multiple speed records, including four women’s land speed records and a transcontinental speed record in 1956, when she drove from New York to Los Angeles in less than 57 hours.  For her successful career in racing, Skelton was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

Betty Skelton holds more combined aircraft and automotive records than anyone – female or male.  Her groundbreaking careers opened doors for women in both fields and earned her the nickname “First Lady of Firsts.”  In 1959, she was allowed to train with the Mercury 7 astronauts at the behest of Look magazine, who did a cover story on her entitled, “Should a Girl Be First in Space?”  After retiring from aerobatics and racing, Skelton also had careers in advertising and real estate.  She died of cancer in 2011 at age 85.


Historical Women Who Rocked: Jackie Mitchell

April 2nd, 2013

By Elissa Blattman, NWHM Intern

It’s baseball season!  My favorite time of the year!  I grew up in a big time baseball-loving household, where the topics of our dinner conversations regularly centered around baseball trivia.  I feel like I know my fair share of baseball history, however, this is something I had never heard about until today.

Did you know Jackie Mitchell, the second female ever signed to a professional baseball contract, struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig back to back on April 2, 1931? I didn’t!

Growing up, Jackie Mitchell was an all-around athlete who played tennis, basketball, and boxing, among other sports.  But her favorite was baseball.  As a child, she lived next to future Baseball Hall of Famer, Dazzy Vance, who coached her and taught her the “drop ball” pitch.  She played in sandlot games and for an all-girls team in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and attended a baseball camp in Georgia.

Photo credit: Library of Congress

During the 1930s, Joe Engel, owner of the AA minor league team, the Chattanooga Lookouts, was always looking for ways to fill the Lookouts’ seats with baseball fans.  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.  Engel caught wind of Mitchell and he figured he could garner more publicity for the Lookouts if he signed her to the team.  On March 25, 1931, Engel signed 17 year old Jackie Mitchell to the Lookouts, so he could promote his team as being the only one in professional baseball with a female pitcher.  By April 2, Mitchell was called to the mound in her first professional game.

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 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.

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

Babe Ruth, especially, 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, and told a Chattanooga newspaper after the game, “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.  Major League Baseball officially barred all women from the game on June 21, 1952.  Though not allowed to play in the MLB, the women who played in what is now known as the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (1943-1954) proved that the game of baseball is not “too strenuous” for women to participate in competitively.

Sources: The National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, LA Times, CNN, Baseball Almanac

Historical Women Who Rocked: Film Director Dorothy Arzner

January 10th, 2013

What do Hollywood heavyweights Lucille Ball and Katharine Hepburn have in common? Both of their legendary film careers were made possible by Dorothy Arzner. Ever heard of her? Chances are you haven’t because she is one of many women in history whose incredible stories have been forgotten. In addition to being the first woman to direct in the Hollywood studio system, she was the only woman for her entire career which lasted for nearly 20 years! Her name is credited to more films than any other woman in Hollywood to date. Dorothy directed the first “talkie” for Paramount and invented the boom mic.

Although Dorothy’s amazing story has faded into historical obscurity, a new project is working to unearth it and share it with the world.  Sophisticated: The Untold Hollywood Story of Dorothy Arzner, “will tell the story of this great unsung heroine…Hollywood’s first female director, Dorothy Arzner.”

Wendy Haines is the film’s producer and  brings over 20 successful years in the Entertainment Industry coupled with an entrepreneurial background in business management. Along with her passion for collaboration, Wendy brings a visionary ability combined with practical business perspective, which makes for the combination of a winning producer. Ms. Haines’ goal is to inspire a collaborative effort to write this unsung heroine back into history.

To learn more about this important project please click here.

Historical Women Who Rocked: Myers-Briggs

October 18th, 2012

Did you ever take the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality test growing up? Did you know that the researchers who gave the world the MBTI (which by the way happens to be one of the most popular personality tests in the world), were not only women but also mother and daughter? There’s something you don’t learn in history textbooks everyday!

Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother Katharine Cook Briggs worked together to create the system to measure psychological  preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. The mother-daughter duo based much of their research on psychologist Carl Jung’s typological theories published in his book, “Psychological Types” in 1921.

The three original pairs of preferences in Jung’s typology are Extraversion and Introversion, Sensing and Intuition, and Thinking and Feeling. After studying them, Briggs Myers added a fourth pair, Judging and Perceiving.

  • Extraversion or Introversion: refers to where and how one places his or her efforts in the world – with others in the outer world or alone in the inner world
  • Sensing or Intuition: refers to how one takes in information – through five senses or through patterns
  • Thinking or Feeling: refers to decision making – objectively or personally
  • Judging or Perceiving: refers to how one lives and interaction with outer world – structured or flexible

Do you know which type you belong to? Find out here: