Heroines

2nd July 1937 Amelia Earhart Disappears

"Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn't be done.' - Amelia Earhart

“…first lady of the skies,  she had no guy holding her down, no one could clip her wings, she was no bird in the hand, she is no living thing now…” from the poem ‘Amelia Earhart’ by Patti Smith When 10-year-old … Continue reading

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22nd March 1638 Anne Hutchinson Banished

"A woman of haughty and fierce carriage, a nimble wit and active spirit, a very voluble tongue, more bold than a man." Governor J Winthrop condemns Anne Hutchinson

On this day in 1638, Anne Hutchinson – religious radical and “first feminist of the New World” – was expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A recollection of this momentous event will appear here shortly.

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29th January 1912 the Death of Anna LoPizzo

"Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes; Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!"

On this day in 1912, 34-year-old immigrant mill-worker Anna LoPizzo was shot and killed by police whilst peacefully picketing in the Lawrence Textile Strike. Unlike the majority of heroines recalled here at On This Deity, Anna LoPizzo was in no … Continue reading

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16th October 1902  the Revolutionary Suicide of Ida Craddock

"I maintain my right to die as I have lived, a free woman, not cowed into silence by any other human being."

A tribute to Ida Craddock – mystic visionary, free speech and women’s rights revolutionary – will appear here shortly.

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2nd March 1997  the Death of Judi Bari

Judi Bari: "Mother Earth, Earth First!"

A tribute to the eco-revolutionary Judi Bari – who died on this day in 1997 – will appear here shortly.

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9th December 1996 the Death of Mary Leakey

Mary Leakey

No matter who we are and what we think, the beautiful truth is that we are all children of Africa. It was in no small part the painstaking work of Mary Leakey that revealed this. For more than 50 years … Continue reading

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23rd October 2006 The Death of Dr Jane Elizabeth Hodgson

Jane Elizabeth Hodgson

There are many reasons why a pregnancy may be unwanted. A woman may have no access to contraception or already have too many mouths to feed. It may endanger her health, even her life. She may have been raped. The … Continue reading

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2nd October 1958 the Death of Marie Stopes

Marie Stopes

“I have some things to say about sex, which, so far as I am aware, have not yet been said … things which seem to me to be of profound importance to men and women who hope to make their … Continue reading

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8th September 1969 The Death of Alexandra David-Neel

Young Alexandra

A tribute to the extraordinary self-determining inner- and outer-world explorer Alexandra David-Néel will appear here soon.

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11th August 1881 the Death of Jane Digby

Jane Digby

On This Deity today proudly presents a love story of lust and adventure; the story of Jane Elizabeth Digby, who died 132 years ago today, a woman who did her own thing, when doing one’s own thing was very much … Continue reading

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25th July 2001  the Death of Phoolan Devi

Phoolan Devi

She was born a low-caste “untouchable”. By the time she was twenty, she’d been raped so many times she’d lost count. But she would rise from abuse, poverty and degradation to avenge her honour and become a champion of women’s … Continue reading

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19th July 1850  the Death of Margaret Fuller

Margaret Fuller

On this day in 1850, pioneering feminist, Transcendentalist leader, freethinker and intellectual giant Margaret Fuller drowned tragically when an Italian cargo ship carrying her and her family struck a sandbar just fifty yards off the coast of New York’s Fire … Continue reading

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18th July 1988  the Death of Nico

Nico

“I’m flying to Ibiza. It’s my favourite place, and I think I’ll die there.” And twenty-five years ago today, Nico fulfilled her own prophecy after a fatal bicycle fall on the Spanish island she loved so much. She was 49. … Continue reading

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15th July 1907 the Martyrdom of Qiu Jin

秋瑾

Today we pay tribute to the extraordinary Chinese poetess, radical women’s rights leader and revolutionary, Qiu Jin – executed one hundred and six years ago on this day at the age of 31. At the turn of the twentieth century, while Qiu’s … Continue reading

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13th July 1954 the Death of Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo self-portrait

“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.” …and Frida’s reality was a lifetime of extreme physical pain and tortuous suffering, punctuated with a tempestuous emotional turbulence. Artist Frida Kahlo … Continue reading

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9th July 1977  the Death of Alice Paul

The remarkable Alice Paul

At the onset of the second decade of the twentieth century, the American women’s suffrage movement was floundering. Despite non-stop crusading since 1848 and the monumental efforts of pioneers such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, by 1910 … Continue reading

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20th June 1912 the Death of Voltairine de Cleyre

Voltairine de Cleyre, 1866-1912

Today we pay tribute to an extraordinary frontierswoman and freethinker, Voltairine de Cleyre, who died 101 years ago as she had lived: “a free spirit, an Anarchist, owing no allegiance to rulers, heavenly or earthly.” A leading luminary in the … Continue reading

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18th June 1858  the Death of the Rani of Jhansi

Lakshmi Bai – the Queen of Jhansi

Today we pay tribute to Lakshmi Bai – the Rani (queen) of Jhansi – killed in battle one hundred and fifty-three years ago by British Imperialists during India’s First War of Independence. She was twenty-two years old. The story of this freedom-fighting … Continue reading

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14th June 1928 the Death of Emmeline Pankhurst

The inimitable Emmeline Pankhurst

Today, we remember one of the most important British women of the 20th century who died 85 years ago today, aged 69. Sisters! If you have ever voted in an election, thank Emmeline Pankhurst. And if you have ever decided not … Continue reading

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1st June 1968 the Death of Helen Keller

Helen Keller: A woman of extraordinary vision

Today we pay tribute to one of the twentieth century’s most potent symbols of courage and fortitude, the legendary Helen Keller. Rendered deaf and blind at nineteen months as a result of what was probably scarlet fever, the extraordinary story … Continue reading

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30th May 1431  the Burning of Joan of Arc

Hermann Stilke's 1843 painting of the death of Joan of Arc

“Whatever thing men call great, look for it in Joan of Arc, and there you will find it.” – Mark Twain On this day in 1431, the English tied a 19-year-old French peasant girl to a pillar in the square in Rouen … Continue reading

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29th May 1851 ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’

The impeccably (self-) named Sojourner Truth

Today we recall that extraordinary, incendiary moment when former slave, itinerant preacher, abolitionist and firebrand Sojourner Truth took to the podium at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, raised herself to her full height of over six feet, … Continue reading

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19th May 1536  the Beheading of Anne Boleyn

Anne in the Tower, awaiting her fate

Four-hundred and seventy-five years ago today, Anne Boleyn knelt upright on a scaffold in the Tower of London on the orders of her husband, King Henry VIII (1491 – 1547). Looming over her was expert swordsman Jean Rombaud who had … Continue reading

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18th May 1955 the Death of Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune

In that grim 100-year period between the end of the American Civil War and the onset of the Civil Rights movement, the only thing more challenging than being an African American was the double whammy of being both black and … Continue reading

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14th May 1940 the Death of Emma Goldman

The one and only Emma Goldman

Today we celebrate the extraordinary life of an extraordinary woman – orator, writer, agitator, firebrand and revolutionary anarchist – Emma Goldman. Known as “Red Emma,” “the mother of anarchy in America” and “the most dangerous woman in the world,” she … Continue reading

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14th April 1964 the Death of Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson

Today we commemorate one of the twentieth century’s greatest revolutionary heroines – the mother of the environmental movement, Rachel Carson. Passionate naturalist, brilliant biologist, fearless crusader and gifted writer, this outwardly demure and unassuming woman took on the federal government, … Continue reading

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2nd April 1917 the First Elected Female Politician Assumes Office

“We’re half the people; we should be half the Congress." - Jeannette Rankin

On this day in 1917, the first woman elected to any national legislature in a Western democracy took her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. And Sisters, our first-ever political representative didn’t let us down. Three full years before … Continue reading

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28th March 1941  the Death of Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

On 28th March 1941, 59-year-old visionary feminist writer Virginia Woolf walked into the river Ouse with stones in her pockets and drowned herself. A note to her husband Leonard said: “Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. … Continue reading

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25th March 1969  John & Yoko’s Bed-In for Peace

The newspeople said, "Say, what you're doing in bed?" I said, "We're only trying to get us some peace"

On 25th March 1969 Yoko Ono and John Lennon staged their first ‘bed-in’ for peace. Married five days earlier in Gibraltar, the Bed-In for Peace at the Amsterdam Hilton – inviting the world’s press to come and interview them about … Continue reading

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13th March 1906 the Death of Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony: "Failure is impossible"

Today we pay tribute to a woman whose very name is synonymous with women’s suffrage – the legendary Susan B. Anthony. Although there are several other luminaries whose pioneering efforts heralded that extraordinary first wave of female emancipation,  it is Susan … Continue reading

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12th March 1945 the Death of Anne Frank

Anne Frank: "I live in a crazy time."

Today is the date attributed to the death of Anne Frank. But the exact date is of course unknown, for the 15-year-old Jewish diarist was just one of some 18,000 to die from the typhus epidemic that spread like wildfire … Continue reading

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10th March 1913  the Death of Harriet Tubman

Harriet "Moses" Tubman

“Excepting John Brown – of sacred memory – I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people,” wrote Frederick Douglass of the abolitionist and freedom fighter, Harriet Tubman – who we honour … Continue reading

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9th March 1947 the Death of Carrie Chapman Catt

Carrie Chapman Catt

When Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton first drafted the 19th Amendment in 1878, never could they have imagined it would be another forty-two gruelling years before American women would win the right to vote. Why, even black men … Continue reading

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7th March 1942  the Death of Lucy Parsons

"Of all the modern delusions, the ballot has certainly been the greatest. The fact is money and not votes is what rules people." - Lucy Parsons

As a Native-, African- and Mexican-American woman born into slavery, raised in poverty and terrorised in the hate-fuelled KKK milieu of post-Civil War Texas, Lucy Eldine Gonzales Parsons probably had more reasons than most to dedicate her life to radical … Continue reading

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22nd February 1943 Beheading of the White Rose

Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst

Seventy-one years ago today, three German students were executed by guillotine in Munich’s Stadelheim Prison for their crimes of high treason against Hitler’s Third Reich. Just four days earlier, 24-year-old Hans Scholl and his 21-year-old sister Sophie were arrested after … Continue reading

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4th February 1987 the Murder of Meena Keshwar Kamal

Meena

In 1989, as a 26-year-old, I first truly understood what it was like to be disrespected because I am a woman. Although I was modestly dressed, I had dared to walk down the street on my own in a village … Continue reading

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1st February 1851 the Death of Mary Shelley

“And Shelley, fourfam'd – for her parents, her lord, And the poor lone impossible monster abhorr'd.” – Leigh Hunt, on Mary Shelley

She was born of impeccable parentage – the daughter of two of the 18th century’s most notable and infamous thinkers: pioneering feminist and author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft; and radical philosopher and proto-anarchist, William Godwin. She … Continue reading

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15th January 1919  the Murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht

Revolutionary leaders Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg

The murder of revolutionary leaders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht on 15th January 1919 at the hands of the proto-Nazi Freikorps marked the end of the Spartacist Week – the failed workers’ uprising in Berlin. Incredibly their murder was ordered … Continue reading

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14th January 1977 the Death of Anais Nin

The brilliant and beautiful Anaïs Nin

Today we pay tribute to Anaïs Nin – one of the most important writers of the twentieth century – who died on this day in 1977. Brilliant, beautiful, seductive, promiscuous, flamboyant, provocative, fearless, Anaïs was and remains a source of … Continue reading

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13th January 2006 The Murder of Joan Root

Joan Root and friends: a fox, a hippo and an aardvark. (Photo by Alan Root)

Eight years ago today, 69-year-old Joan Root lay alone bleeding to death from gunshot wounds at her home on the shores of Lake Naivasha in Kenya. Whodunnit? Who cut down this Kenyan-born English rose? And why? As a young woman, … Continue reading

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6th January 2006 the Death of Comandante Ramona

Comandante Ramona (with Subcomandante Marcos)

Today we pay tribute to Comandante Ramona – the diminutive, barely literate peasant-turned-revolutionary leader and heroine – who died eight years ago on this day at the age of 47 following a decade-long battle with cancer. A high-ranking officer of … Continue reading

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5th January 1937 the Death of Lou Andreas-Salome

Lou Andreas-Salome

Sigmund Freud called her “the great understander”. Friedrich Nietzsche said of her: “I found no more gifted or reflective spirit … Lou is by far the smartest person I ever knew.” Rainer Maria Rilke sang of her: “…all that I … Continue reading

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3rd January 1894 the Death of Elizabeth Peabody

Elizabeth Peabody

Today we pay tribute to Elizabeth Peabody – author, publisher and education pioneer – whose progressive and intellectual contributions played a pivotal role in igniting and facilitating the American Transcendentalist movement. Born into a poor but intellectually rich family, Elizabeth was … Continue reading

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1st January 1994 The Zapatista Uprising

The Zapatistas, 1994

Twenty years ago today, 3,000 indigenous Mayan Indian guerrillas came down from the mountains of the southern province of Chiapas and declared war against the Mexican government. The insurgents – representing some of the poorest and most exploited people of … Continue reading

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27th December 2007 The Assassination of Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto

On 27th December 2007, Benazir Bhutto – twice Prime Minister of Pakistan and the first democratically-elected female leader of any Muslim country – was assassinated as she left an election rally in Rawalpindi. Mysteriously done to death by either the assassin’s … Continue reading

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26th December 1985 the Martyrdom of Dian Fossey

The extraordinary Dian Fossey

Twenty-eight years ago this night, Dian Fossey – legendary zoologist and champion of Africa’s mountain gorillas – was brutally murdered in the bedroom of her isolated cabin, high in Rwanda’s Virunga Mountains. Her lifeless body with its skull split open … Continue reading

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12th December 1982 Greenham Common Peace Women ‘Embrace the Base’

Beautiful!

  The 12th December 1982 was cold. Not really the kind of day to be hanging about outside unless there is something you really have to do. But there was something that I and thousands of other women really, really … Continue reading

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14th November 1817 the Death of Policarpa Salavarrieta

"La Pola"

The history of nineteenth-century female revolutionaries unsurprisingly mirrors women’s subjugated status of that century… if their stories are not entirely suppressed or consigned to mere footnotes, they are usually documented as embarrassing radical lunatics – the glory of the heroic freedom … Continue reading

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12th November 1989 the Death of La Pasionaria

La Pasionaria: "They shall not pass!"

Today we recall the “Spanish Joan of Arc”, Dolores Ibárruri – better known the world over by her revolutionary name, La Pasionaria (the Passion Flower) – who died twenty-four years ago at the age of 93. Dolores Ibárruri achieved meteoric … Continue reading

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6th November 1990  the Women “Drivers” of Saudi Arabia

"We the Women" declaration

Twenty-three years ago today, 47 women staged a remarkable protest against Saudi Arabia’s unwritten “law of convention” prohibiting women from driving – the only country in the world to violate this basic human right of freedom of movement. In a … Continue reading

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3rd November 1793 the Death of Olympe de Gouges

Olympe de Gouges

Although militant feminism and female agitation were major features of the French Revolution, the woman whose name is most closely associated with this world-shattering event remains the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. But that distinction, by revolutionary rights, belongs in … Continue reading

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1st November 1872 Susan B. Anthony Registers to Vote

A letter from Susan B. Anthony, celebrating her registration and vote

Today we recall an extraordinary episode in the long struggle for women’s suffrage in America, when Susan B. Anthony – one of the movement’s leading lights – launched a bid for the right to vote so clever and audacious it … Continue reading

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26th October 1902 the Death of Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Today we pay tribute to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, fearless pioneer of the American women’s rights movement and the first American feminist to synthesise the arguments for women’s equality in employment, income, property, custody and divorce. As the organiser of the … Continue reading

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24th October 2005 the Death of Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks being fingerprinted in 1955

Today we pay tribute to the inspirational Rosa Parks – one of the most prominent African American women in history – who died eight years ago aged 92. Rosa’s extraordinary act of civil disobedience – when, on 1st December 1955, she … Continue reading

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19th October 1943 the Death of Camille Claudel

Camille Claudel

Today we pay tribute to the brilliant Camille Claudel – widely considered to be the most gifted female sculptor the world has ever known. Her extraordinary achievements have nevertheless been eclipsed by her notorious relationship with Auguste Rodin. While her … Continue reading

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5th October 1789 the Women’s March on Versailles

The Women's March on Versailles

Two hundred and twenty-four years ago today, an angry mob of nearly 7,000 working women – armed with pitchforks, pikes and muskets – marched in the rain from Paris to Versailles in what was to be a pivotal event in … Continue reading

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27th September 1960 the Death of Sylvia Pankhurst

Sylvia Pankhurst

Not with any single, amazing knock-out blow did today’s subject achieve greatness, but instead through umpteen rounds of parries, punches and counter-punches. For Sylvia Pankhurst – who died fifty-three years ago today – earned her historical place as a World … Continue reading

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20th September 1933 the Death of Annie Besant

ab1_zoom

Parents with daughters: in such times when our reprehensible media will regularly scrutinise a 5-pound weight loss or gain of any (so-called) ‘celebrity’, is it any wonder there is such a paucity of female role models? We must fight back … Continue reading

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6th September 1966 the Death of Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger

“When the history of our civilization is written,” wrote H. G. Wells, “it will be a biological history – and Margaret Sanger will be its heroine.” Hearing her tale for themselves, most modern women would find it difficult to disagree … Continue reading

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30th August 1918 Fanya Botches It

Fanya Kaplan

Ninety-five years ago today, as Vladimir Lenin left a factory where he’d just delivered a speech to workers, a female revolutionary by the name of Fanya Kaplan – disillusioned by the manner in which Lenin had assumed dictatorial powers and … Continue reading

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29th August 1969 Leila’s First Hijack

Leila Khaled

Forty-four years ago today, and just twelve months after Women’s Libbers first burned a bra at an Atlantic City protest against inequality, a new kind of World Revolutionary Heroine was born when twenty-five-year-old Leila Khaled of the PFLP (Popular Front … Continue reading

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26th August 1920 American Women Get the Vote

The 19th Amendment

Sisters, ninety-three years ago, the world was still so male dominated that we women were not even allowed to vote. While our most adventurous brothers were becoming heroes of the so-called Free World by flying planes from the USA to … Continue reading

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4th August 1948 the Death of Mileva Maric

mileva_maric

Sixty-five years ago on this day, Mileva Maric died alone and unknown in Zurich at the age of seventy-two. “Few stories in the history of science are as heartbreaking [as hers],” claimed the New Scientist. A brilliant woman born in … Continue reading

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