Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mary Swartz Rose

Born this day in 1874: Mary Swartz Rose (1874–1941), pioneering nutritionist.

Mary Swartz earned a B.Litt. degree from Denison University in 1901 and a B.S. degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1906. She had a special interest in the chemistry of food and nutrition and helped to establish a department of nutrition within the School of Household Arts.
There were no graduate-level degrees for nutrition science, so Swartz studied physiological chemistry at Yale University and earned a Ph.D. in 1909. The following year she married Anton Richard Rose, a graduated student in biochemistry at Yale.
In 1910 Mary Rose returned to Teacher’s College as an assistant professor. She was made associate professor in 1918. By 1921 she became the first professor of nutrition and dietetics, a position she held for the next two decades. At Teachers College she developed a program around the science of nutrition. Her areas of research included basal metabolism, iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin B, cereals and bran, and the practical applications of nutrition research. She also established methods for the teaching of nutrition science, a key factor in developing the burgeoning field.
Rose served as Deputy Director of the Bureau of Food Conservation of the Federal Food Board from 1917 to 1918. During World War I she helped create nutritionally sound army rations. She was a member of the Council of Foods of the American Medical Association from 1933 to 1940 and a member of the League of Nations Technical Commission on Nutrition from 1935 to 1937. She was president of the American Institute of Nutrition from 1937 to 1938 and was an adviser on nutrition to the Council of National Defense in 1940.
Rose also wrote articles and books for general audiences, including the classic Feeding the Family (1916). In 1932 she published Teaching Nutrition to Boys and Girls, turning her attention toward including nutrition programs in public schools.

Rose measuring children at the Morningside Nutrition and Homemaking Center.  (This image is provided courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries at Teachers College, Columbia University.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gertrude Atherton

Born this day in 1857: Gertrude Franklin Atherton (1857–1948), popular writer known for her social histories, fictional biographies, and novels featuring the New Woman.

Once she got out from under the thumb of her domineering husband (following his death in 1887), Gertrude Atherton became a prolific writer. Many critics say she was too prolific, given that the quality of her work was uneven. Still, she was a popular and successful writer. Many of her heroines embodied the New Woman, the strong, independent woman that was the feminist ideal of the 19th century, and her novels featured feminist themes. Some were very frank in their depiction of women’s sexuality (1897’s Patience Sparhawk and Her Times in particular), and scholars view her work a precursor to Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. Her one bestseller was Black Oxen (1923), a story about New York’s postwar obsession with youth and beauty. In it, a women experiences a resurgence of sexual vitality with medical rejuvenation treatments. The idea of medical rejuvenation caught the attention of many readers. So did the story’s ending, when the heroine broke the mold of popular women’s fiction by choosing power over love.

Her perhaps most lauded work is her biography of Alexander Hamilton. She researched her subject thoroughly, reading some 200 books on Hamilton and visiting his birthplace of the British West Indies. She wrote the biography in the style of a novel, inventing the biographical novel.

In all she wrote 56 books, including historical novels, fictionalized biographies, collections of short stories, several histories of her home state of California, an autobiography, and memoirs.

Monday, October 29, 2012

National Organization for Women

On October 29–30 in 1966 the National Organization for Women was founded.

After the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 leading feminists grew increasingly frustrated over the government’s failure to implement and enforce the provisions of  Title VII, an amendment of the act which prohibits sex discrimination in employment. In response, Betty Friedan brought together feminists to form an organization dedicated to action that would bring about women’s full participation in American society, with all the privileges and responsibilities that brings. The result was the National Organization for Women, whose acronym, NOW, reflects the founders belief that the need was urgent and the time was ripe.
NOW is dedicated to the proposition that women, first and foremost, are human beings, who, like all other people in our society, must have the chance to develop their fullest human potential. We believe that women can achieve such equality only by accepting to the full the challenges and responsibilities they share with all other people in our society, as part of the decision-making mainstream of American political, economic and social life.
—from the National Organization for Women’s 1966 Statement of Purpose

Its official priorities have changed over time. In the beginning, its priorities included passage of an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution, enforcement of Title VII, maternity leave rights, home and child-care deductions for working parents, child-care centers, abortion and reproductive rights, and equal education and job-training opportunities. Today NOW still supports many of those same priorities, including the top priority of constitutional guarantees. It has expanded its goals to also included other women’s health issues and an end to violence against women. It officially supports gay and lesbian rights and works with other civil rights groups toward ending bigotry and racism.

Today NOW is the largest feminist organization in the United States, with more than 500,000 members and chapters in each of the 50 states. In its early years it achieved many successes at the national level. Today, NOW, with over 500 chapters, is more effective at the state and local level.
Visit NOW’s website for highlights of its accomplishments. You could visit Encyclopedia Britannica, but how much can it tell you in 148 words?


In Other News:
Born this day in 1837: Harriet Powers (1837–1911), African American folk artist and quilter. Only two of her works survive, but they are prime examples of nineteenth century Southern quilting. 

The Bible Quilt, by Harriet Powers,
hangs in the Smithsonian

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Anna Elizabeth Dickinson

Anna Elizabeth Dickinson (1842–1932), social reformer and popular lecturer known for her fiery speeches on abolition and women’s rights

Dickinson was born into a family of abolitionists whose home provided a way station for the Underground Railroad. When she was two her father died of a heart attack while delivering an impassioned anti-slavery speech. Anna began her own career as a reformer when she was a young teenager. The abolitionist newspaper The Liberator published a letter by Dickinson when she was only fourteen years old. The publisher, William Lloyd Garrisoin, immediately saw her potential as a lecturer. Fellow abolitionist Lucretia Mott set up a series of lectures for her.
In 1860 Dickinson spoke before the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, and the following year she gave a talk in Philadelphia called “Women’s Rights and Wrongs.” At a time when women were discouraged from public speaking, along came a very young lady delivering philippics. Audiences were thrilled by the spectacle, and lecture invitations poured in. At the height of her career Dickinson was delivering a lecture every second day and earning an astonishing $20,000 a year.
She lectured on behalf of the Republican party, giving pro-Union talks to unsympathetic audiences (she was even shot at during one lecture). After the war she spoke in favor of harsh Reconstruction measures. Her lectures covered a variety of social issues, including the full emancipation of women, civil rights for African Americas, veneral disease, and polygamy. Her own personal favorite lecture was about Joan of Arc, and some embraced Dickinson as “America’s Joan of Arc.”
Dickinson could not sustain her popularity, however. Interest in the lyceum movement faded, and likewise Dickinson faded from the public eye.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Janet Scudder

(1869–1940), sculptor known for her joyous and amusing fountains; one of the most popular sculptors of her time

Janet Scudder was born Netta Deweze Frazee Scudder in Terre Haue, Indiana, in 1969. She adopted the name Janet while studying at the Cincinnati Academy of Art. At the academy she studied anatomy, drawing, and modeling. In 1891 she moved to Chicago and became an assistant to the sculptor Lorado Taft, who was preparing for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. By helping him create sculptures from scale models, Scudder gained valuable training in what would become her chosen career: sculpting. She showed great talent and was commissioned to make the statues for the Indiana and Illinois buildings at the fair.
The exposition also gave Scudder the opportunity to see a fountain erected by Frederick MacMonnies, an artist who would deeply influence her career. Later that year she traveled to his Paris studio with a letter of introduction and convinced him to let her study under him.
In 1894 she returned to the United States. She lived in New York, supporting herself by fulfilling commissions for portrait medallions and architectural ornamentation. In 1896 she returned to Paris, where the Luxembourg Museum bought several of her medallions. She discovered her true life’s work, however, on a trip to Florence. She found herself thoroughly beguiled by the works of Donatello and Verrocchio and she was brought full circle back to MacMonnies’ fountain.  She immediately embarked on a career producing playful garden statues.
Frog Fountain,
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Her first work, “Frog Fountain,” is also her most famous. It was purchased by architect Stanford White. Scudder spent several years in New York, fulfilling commissions from wealthy figures such as John D. Rockefeller and producing a copy of “Frog Fountain” for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After several years she returned to Paris to live and work, although she made several extended stays back in the U.S.
Scudder participated in both the women’s movement and relief work. She supported suffrage through the National American Woman Suffrage Association. When World War I erupted she returned to the United States, founding the relief organization the Lafayette Fund and working with the Red Cross and the YMCA.

Tortoise Fountain

Friday, October 26, 2012

Louisa Lee Schuyler

Born this day in 1837: Louisa Lee Schuyler (1837–1926), welfare worker who organized public welfare services and promoted legislation to aid the poor, disabled, and mentally ill.

Louisa Lee Schuyler was born into a distinguished and civic-minded New York family (she was a descendent of Revolutionary War general Philip Schuyler and of Alexander Hamilton). During the Civil War Schuyler’s mother co-founded the Woman’s Central Association of Relief as an auxiliary of the U.S. Sanitary Commission. Schulyer was installed as chair of the committee of correspondence. In that role she showed herself to be a dynamo of bureaucratic efficiency. Under her direction, the organization grew into the largest and most important auxiliary of the Commission.
After the war Schuyler applied her organizational skills to improve New York’s public welfare services. In 1872 she founded the State Charities Aid Association (SCAA). SCAA engaged groups of citizen volunteers to inspect and evaluate institutions of public charity. The committee members hailed from high society, and as such wielded great influence. They used their findings to suggest legislative reforms and bring much needed public attention to conditions in these institutions.
Schuyler was especially interested in the treatment of the mentally ill. She lobbied extensively for the passage of legislation to remove the mentally ill from poor houses and private charities, where they languished under the most minimal of custodial care, and to place them instead in public hospitals, where the would received treatment and rehabilitation. Schuyler also established a training school for nurses at Bellevue Hospital in 1873.
In 1907 Schuyler was shocked to learn of the number of children who suffered from preventable blindness. The following year she brought together leaders from SCAA, the Russell Sage Foundation, the American Medical Association, the New York Association for the Blind, and city and state health departments to address the issue. By 1915 the group formally organized as the National Committee for the Prevention of Blindness.
Schuyler was the recipient of many awards and accolades during her lifetime, including . In 2000 SCAA changed its name to Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy in her honor.

In Other News:
Happy Birthday to the Queen of Gospel Song, Mahalia Jackson (1911–1972)!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Anna M. Richardson Harkness

From “The Commonwealth Legacy at 90”

Born this day in 1837: Anna M. Richardson Harkness (1837–1926), philanthropist and one of the first women in the nation to establish a philanthropic foundation.

Anna Harkness was heir to a fortune amassed by her husband, Stephen V, Harkness, an early investor in Standard Oil. She was a generous philanthropist, giving to churches and to missions both at home and abroad. Eventually she saw the wisdom of bringing organization and focus to her philanthropic work. In 1918 she established the Commonwealth Fund with an endowment of $10 million dollars. Her son, Edward Harkness, served as its first president. The family continued to contribute to the endowment over the years, to the tune of more than $53 million.
Among the Commonwealth Fund’s missions was the advancement of healthcare. To that end it contributed to the building of hospitals and clinics (especially in rural areas) and medical schools and established a fellowship program to bring young professionals from the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and other English-speaking countries to study in the United States. The Commonwealth Fund continues today as one of the country’s major philanthropies.
Harkness was adept at managing her wealth and grew her $50 million dollar inheritance to a fortune of $85 million. Much of that fortune she devoted to personal giving. The New York Public Library, the Musuem of Natural History, the New York Zoological Society, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art are counted among her beneficiaries. She and her son Edward also donated a 22-acre parcel of land to build a new facility for Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Presbyterian Hospital.
In her will Harnkness left $36 million dollars to charity, including an additional $22 million for the Commonwealth Fund. Despite her generosity, “Anna Harnkess” was not a household name. She did not trumpet her philanthropy, but preferred anonymous giving.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sarah Josepha Buell Hale

Born this day in 1788: Sarah Josepha Buell  Hale (1788–1879), writer and magazine editor who was the most influential woman of her day.

Sarah Josepha Buell was born in Newport, New Hampshire, in 1788. She was schooled at home by her mother and brother (who shared what he was learning at Dartmouth College). Buell taught school from 1806 to 1811. She also wrote articles for local newspapers. She married a lawyer named David Hale in 1813. Mr. Hale provided her with more advanced learning and apparently supported her writing. He died in 1822, however, leaving her with five children and little means of support.
Hale ran a millinery shop with her sister-in-law to support her family, but continuted to write. Her poetry appeared in local journals, then was published as the collection The Genius of Oblivion in 1823. In 1827 she published the novel Northwood, a Tale of New England. This novel is an early example of a novel that depicts everyday life. It is also notable for discussing slavery and the growing divide between the North and the South.
Northwood enjoyed modest success, but, more importantly, landed Hale a job in Boston as the editor of a new monthly women’s magazine, Ladies’ Magazine (American Ladies’ Magazine after 1834). Hale, the first woman in the country to edit a magazine, provided the bulk of the material, including literary criticism, poetry, and essays. Through the magazine she supported both patriotic and humanitarian organizations and advocated for the education of women. In fact, her stated mission was to “mark the progress of female improvement, and cherish the effusions of female intellect.” Hale was not a supporter of equal rights for women, but  a supporter of equal intellectual development of women. She advocated for women’s education and was a driving force behind the establishment of Vassar College.
In 1837 American Ladies’ Magazine became Godey’s Lady’s Book, now based in Philadelphia. Hale followed the magazine to Philadelphia in 1841 and over the next several decades transformed it into the most read and most influential women’s magazine up to that time. In her role as the magazine’s editor, Hale was deeply influential. Unlike most magazines of the time (which swiped each other’s content), Godey’s Lady’s Book sought original work. Hale nurtured the careers of writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Hale also edited a magazine for children and published a volume of poetry for children, which included the enduring “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Her greatest undertaking, however, was a Woman’s Record; or, Sketches of Distinguished Women (full title: Woman’s Record; or, Sketches of All Distinguished women, “The beginning” till A.D. 1850. Arranged in Four Eras. With Selections From Female Writers of Every Age). In 36 volumes she traced the effects on culture of the most influential women of history, hoping they would serve as role models for “the destiny of women.” 


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Emily Kimbrough

Emily Kimbrough (1898–1989), popular writer, lecturer, and radio commentator of the mid-20th century.

Emily Kimbrough is best remembered for her popular travel writing and light humor. She was a regular contributor to The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly and was a popular speaker. Twice each year, in the days before World War II, she embarked on a six to eight week lecture tour. In 1952 Kimbrough settled down to join WCBS radio with a 25-minute daily talk show, The Emily Kimbrough Show.
Kimbrough began her writing career in the 1920s as a fashion editor, first at Marshall Field & Company and then for the Ladies Home Journal. From 1927 to 1929 she was managing editor of the Ladies Home Journal. She resigned from the Journal to pursue a freelance writing career.
One of her most popular books was Our Hearts Were Young and Gay (1942), which she co-wrote with Cornelia Otis Skinner. This best-seller chronicled the European tour the authors took during the 1920s. The book was made into a motion picture, and Kimbrough recounts what happened when she and Skinner answered Hollywood’s siren call in We Followed Our Hearts to Hollywood (1943).

Forty-plus with an abundance of luggage.
In 1954 she was not young and gay, but Forty Plus and Fancy Free. The book tells of a trip she took to Italy and to England for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. She and a small group of friends convinced themselves that there was nothing to stop them from undertaking this adventure, since they were unneeded by children and grandchildren (and since “we haven’t a husband among us”). Kimbrough forgot one thing, however: she worked for CBS.
…[I]t had been so many years since I had worked for an organization I had failed to include in my calculations for the trip the necessity of receiving permission to make it. Delivering aloud an announcement [to myself] is an abracadabra that works for me…but it might not be sufficiently powerful magic to bring an entire organization to heel.
Turns out, it was. She covered the coronation for CBS and took the remainder of the trip as a vacation. 

Kimbrough wrote over a dozen more books, the last one published in 1976. Her home town of Muncie, Indiana, appeared in much of her writing. In 1976 the town honored her by creating the Emily Kimbrough Historic District

From Femilogue’s own copy of Forty Plus and Fancy Free.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Abigail Jane Scott Duniway

Duniway votes at last!

Born this day in 1834: Abigail Jane Scott Duniway (1834–1915), pioneer, writer, women’s rights activist, and suffragist who laid the groundwork for suffrage in Oregon.

Abigail Jane Scott, a native of Illinois,  undertook the westward journey to Oregon with her family in 1852. She recorded the arduos and tragic journey (her mother and one brother died en route) in a journal, which would provide the basis for her first novel—Captain Gray’s Company (1859)
In Oregon she began teaching school, then married Benjamin C. Duniway the following year. The Duniways had one daughter and five sons. In 1862 the Duniway farm was lost to a bad business decision made unilaterally by her husband. Not long afterwards, Mr. Duniway was injured in an accident and unable to work. Duniway resumed teaching for a while, then opened a milinary and notions shop.
Duniway chafed under the legal restrictions she faced as a woman. In 1871 she moved the family to Portland, where she established a newspaper, the New Northwest. The paper was devoted to woman suffrage and women’s rights, including married women’s property rights. (Her brother, Harvey W. Scott, also ran a newspaper in Portland—which opposed woman suffrage. She would blame him when suffrage failed in the vote of 1900.) Later she published a similar publication, The Pacific Empire. In addition to women’s rights, Duniway advocated temperance, although she was opposed to prohibition, earning her enemies on both sides of the debate. She  continued writing fiction, some of which appeared as serialized novels in her newspaper. Her novel From the West to the West, was published in 1905.
In Portland, Duniway became increasingly active in women’s rights. She organized a Northwest speaking tour for Susan B. Anthony in 1871. In 1873 she founded the Orgeon Equal Suffrage Association. She traveled and lectured on women’s rights and lobbied the state legislature, sometimes facing both verbal and physical attack. Her influence was felt in the Washington Territory and in Idaho, places where she received much credit for securing the women’s vote, in 1833 and 1896, respectively. 
In 1912 Oregon at last adopted woman suffrage. Duniway was given the honor of drafting the official proclamation and signed it along with the governor. She was also the first woman to register and vote in the state of Oregon.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ursula K. Le Guin

Copyright © by Marian Wood Kolisch

Happy Birthday to Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929), science fiction writer, poet, Library of Congress Living Legend, feminist, admirer of cats!

Who says genre fiction can’t be capital-L Literature? Le Guin’s work is known for its richly imagined contexts and intricately developed characters as well as for its philosophical import. A prolific writer, Le Guin’s work includes more than twenty novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, numerous volumes of poetry, criticism, and translations. She has received dozens (and dozens!) of awards, including both a Hugo and a Nebula award for The Left hand of Darkness, perhaps her best-known book.
If you’ve never read any UKL, read some! Go here for an excerpt and review of The Left Hand of Darkness.
You might also enjoy visiting UKL’s website and reading her delightful blog.

Also on this day: In 1945 French women got the vote. 1945!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Maud Nathan

Maud Nathan in 1913

Born this day in 1862: Maud Nathan (1862–1946), suffragist, cofounder of the National Consumers League

Maud Nathan was born into a prominent Jewish family in New York City in 1862. At age 17 she married her cousin Frederick Nathan and enjoyed the life of a socialite. She was very active in community service. A gifted linguist, she taught English to Jewish immigrants at the Hebrew Free School Association. She also sat on the association’s board of directors.
Nathan became interested in the role consumers could play in improving the working conditions of New York’s retail workers, or shopgirls. She helped found the New York City Consumers League in 1890. In 1897 she became president of the state’s Consumers League. She held the post for 21 years, and the League honored her by naming her honorary president for life. In 1898 a National Consumers League born of the New York league, and Nathan served on its executive board.
The New York league informally investigated working conditions in retail establishments. Shopgirls worked as much as 60 hours per week for as little as two or three dollars and were often sexually harassed. The League published “white lists” of stores that treated their shopgirls fairly and encouraged consumers to patronize those establishments. Nathan worked close to the ground, talking with employers, newspapers, and reform groups on behalf of shopgirls.
Nathan found that directly lobbying politicians was less fruitful, since politicians had no motivation to attend to the needs of citizens who could not vote for them. She therefore turned much of her attention to woman suffrage.
A witty and talented speaker, she traveled the state to drum up support for women’s rights. Her family publicly opposed her views, but her husband was by her side. During her speaking tours he drove her around the state in a car, which was decked out with flags to attract attention. Nathan was the first vice president of the New York Equal Suffrage League and a member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. On the national level, she headed a women’s suffrage committee for Teddy Roosevelt’s National Progressive Party. Overseas she addressed international conferences on women’s suffrage and put her linguistic skills to use as translator for German and French speakers.
In her later years Nathan put down her experiences in two works. The Story of an Epoch-Making Movement, published in 1926, chronicles the Consumer League. Her autobiography, Once Upon a Time and To-day, was published in 1933.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Amanda Theodosia Jones

Born this day in 1835: Amanda Theodosia Jones (1835–1914), poet and inventor.

Can’t get that jar of pickles open? Blame Amanda Theodosia (sometimes spelled Theodocia) Jones. Jones, a native of East Bloomfield, New York, invented the vacuum process for canning food in 1872. She held five patents (three joint, two single) for the various processes (wet food, dry food, dehydrated foods, liquids). She founded a canning company in 1890. Jones believed canning was the preserve of women (pun very much intended), and insisted it be run by women only.
“This is a woman’s industry. No man will vote our stock, transact our business, pronounce on women’s wages, supervise our factories. Give men whatever work is suitable, but keep the governing power.”
It turns out that she was a better inventor than business woman; the company was short-lived.
In 1880 Jones perfected the design of liquid fuel burners for glass furnaces and steam boilers. She also perfected protection valves, which had many applications, including improving the safety of oil drilling. For these inventions she held an additional three patents.
Jones had her finger on the pulse of not only the food manufacturing industry and the oil boom, but also on the latest religious movement, Spiritualism. She became heavily involved in the movement and fancied herself a medium. She described her experiences in A Psychic Autobiography.
Despite being weakened and often incapacitated by tuberculosis, Jones had a parallel career as a writer. She published several volumes of poetry and contributed poems to a variety of magazines. She also wrote prose and did editorial work.
Below is a brief sample of Jones’s poetry from A Prairie Idyl, and Other Poems, a volume of poetry in which she demonstrates her keen eye and knowledge of the natural world.  

“A Prairie Idyl”
Ah, then, all out of perfect skies
Rushed in the lover-bobolinks!
Like Paganini, music-wise,
Each bird will tell you all he thinks
On just that one-stringed viol.
Should Handel, Mozart, Mendelssohn
Set awful challenges afloat,
This little master, all alone
Half-way in Heaven, would tune his throat
And dare them to the trial.

—Amanda Theodocia Jones

You can find free electronic versions of Jones’s poetry as well as A Psychic Autobiography on Google Books and elsewhere on the Interwebs.