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 HOW MUCH TO YOU KNOW ABOUT WOMEN'S HISTORY?
Byline: Marion Gold   

Throughout history women have played a remarkable role in shaping America's destiny. Yet men's names predominate in history books, mostly because of a male historical bias and because there is no formal repository of women's historical contributions. 

March is Women's History Month. Below are only a sample of the outstanding women whose extraordinary courage and perseverance changed our lives forever. These are women who inspired others to do great things with their lives. Woman who we celebrate this month and every month. 

Did you know that in c.1600, near the place later known as Seneca Falls, New York, Iroquois women staged a protest against irresponsible warfare? They refused to make love or bear children unless their voices were heard on whether to wage war.

Did you know that in 1916 Ruth Law was the first person to fly nonstop from Chicago to Hornell, New York, setting a new record. She tried to enlist as a fighter pilot, but was turned down.

Did you know that in 1926 Violette Neatly Anderson became the first African-American woman lawyer to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court?

Did you know that in 1931 Jackie Mitchell became the first woman to sign with a professional baseball club? She pitched against Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and struck them both out!

Did you know that in 1962 Dolores Fernandez Huerta helped start the United Farm Workers and became its main contract negotiator?

Did you know that in 1960 Teresa and Mary Thompson, aged eight and nine years old, became the youngest Americans ever granted a patent? They invented a solar teepee (called a Wigwarm) for their school science fair.

Did you know that in 1868 Civil War worker Mary Livermore organized the first woman suffrage convention in Chicago? She later became president of the resulting Illinois Woman Suffrage Association.

Did you know that Susan Picotte, a member of the Omaha tribe, was the first American Indian woman to become a physician? She earned an MD degree in 1889 from the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, graduating at the top of her class.

Did you know that in 1893, at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Fannie Barrier Williams addressed a special session of the World's Congress of Representative Women? Her topic was "The Intellectual Progress of Colored Women in the United States since Emancipation." More than 150,000 people attended to hear 330 women present papers.

Did you know that bacteriologist Anna Wessels Williams isolated the strain of diphtheria bacterium which was used to produce the antitoxin; and that in 1905 she developed the staining method that became the standard for rabies for 34 years?

Did you know that Professor Jean Broadhurst, at age 64 climaxed her 34-year-career by discovering the virus bodies of measles. Until that time, physicians were unable to diagnose measles until the rash appeared.

Did you know that it was Dr. Joan Miller Platt, born in 1925, who helped develop a procedure for fixing cleft palates in infants? Until her innovation, the problem could not be fixed until the child was older.

Did you know that it was Trotula of Salerno, who lived during the 11th century, who was the first to claim that both men and women could have physiological defects that affected contraception? It was a daring move to admit that a man could be responsible for infertility. Trotula also described the use of opiates to dull the pain of childbirth. (Some scholars dispute that Trotula was a woman, or that she even existed.)

Did you know that it was Dorothy Reed in 1901 who showed that Hodgkin's disease is not a form of tuberculosis? She discovered a distinctive blood cell (later named the Sternberg-Reed cell) which is used to diagnose the disease.

Did you know that it was two women, microbiologist Elizabeth Lee Hazen and chemist Rachel Brown, who discovered the antifungal later called nystatin?

Did you know that Anne Bradstreet was the first published poet in American history? Bradstreet abandoned a life of nobility in England before 1644, to settle in Massachusetts with her husband. Her poems were first published in 1650.

Did you know that Lady Murasake Shikibu, a Japanese noblewoman who was born in 970 and died in 1004, wrote the earliest novel on record? Many critics consider her work a masterpiece.

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin's sister-in-law, Ann Franklin was editor of the Newport, Rhode Island, Mercury in 1762?

Did you know that in 1738 Elizabeth Timothy became the first woman editor in the South, putting out the South-Carolina Gazette? 

Did you know that it was investigative reporter Adela Rogers St. Johns who exposed the widespread corruption of the Los Angeles City government in the 1920s?

Did you know that from 1765 to 1768 Mary Katherine Goddard and her mother, Sarah Updike Goddard, published the weekly Providence Gazette in Rhode Island? She also published the Maryland Journal and printed the first signed copy of the Declaration of Independence.

Did you know that in 1861after writing a letter defending women as government clerks, Emily Edson Briggs became a daily columnist for the jointly owned Philadelphia Press and Washington Chronicle-and the first woman to report regularly on White House News?

Did you know that in 1878 Anna Katharine Green wrote the first American Detective novel? It was titled The Leavenworth Case?

Did you know that in 1945 Doris Fleeson was the first woman to write a syndicated political column?

Did you know that in 1946 Alice Allison Dunnigan was the fist African American woman journalist to get White House credentials?

Did you know that Pauline Frederick was the first woman news reporter on television, covering the 1948 political conventions for ABC?

Did you know that since the annual Nobel Prize for Literature was first awarded in 1901, only eight women have received it?

There is so much more! No study of the history of literature and journalism is complete without recognition of how women helped shaped society through their writings. As more and more women enjoy successful careers in science and medicine, politics and public service, publishing and journalismŠ just imagine what wonderful insights are yet to be discovered. Just imagineŠ.


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