Tuesday, March 8, 2011

In Celebration of Women and History

by Suzie Johnson

March is Women’s History Month. Today is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. It would also be my grandmother’s 94th birthday. So in memory of my grandmother, Clara Mae Brinton, born March 8, 1917, I’d like to take a quick tour around the world to see not only what was happening that year, but what milestones were reached by and for women.

  • January 10: Women suffragists began the first known picket line, picketing in front of the White House for the right to vote. Picketing continued for six months, and on March 4th – inauguration day – President Woodrow Wilson drove right through a group of over a thousand women protestors without ever acknowledging them. August 28th, while again picketing the White House, ten women were arrested. Between 1917 and 1918, over five hundred women were arrested.
  • January 31: The original Dixieland Jass Band (founded in 1916) made the first jazz recording for Columbia Records. It was re-recorded on February 26: for Victor Talking Machine Company. Before the year was over, Jass would be changed to Jazz.
  • Feb 10: Johanna Westerdijk a pioneer in plant pathology, became the first female professor in the Netherlands.
  • March 3: Though women didn’t yet have the right to vote, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress. Four days later she voted against entering WWI. Later in the year, she opened congressional debate on the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. It passed the house in 1917, followed by the Senate in 1918 to become the 19th Amendment.
  • March 15th: Tsar Nicholas II abdicated his throne, setting into motion the tragic end to the Romanov family just over a year later.
  • March 17: Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first active duty woman in the United States Navy, as well as the first woman to serve in any branch of the US Armed Forces in a non-nursing role.
  • On April 6: The United States entered WWI, against Germany.
  • May 29: Future president John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born.
  • June 8: Some reports say Walt Disney graduated from high school on this date. Others say he dropped out of school (where he drew cartoons for the school paper) to join the army. The army rejected him because of his age, so he joined the Red Cross and drove an ambulance he decorated with his own cartoons.
  • July 17: King George V changed the name of the British Royal Family from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (also known as Hanover) to Windsor due to the war and anti-German sentiment.
  • August: Five years before she was appointed as the first Dean of Women at Howard University, Lucy Diggs Slowe won the first women’s title at the American Tennis Association’s national tournament in Baltimore, and became the first African-American woman to win a national title in any sport.
  • October 16: The Chicago White Sox beat the New York Giants in the World Series Oct 16. Two years later, the celebrated team was at the center of one of the biggest baseball scandals ever, known as the Chicago Black Sox. (I added this baseball statistic in honor of my grandmother. One of the funniest memories I have of her was not long before she died. She was 81, and we were watching a baseball game together and the players cleared the benches in a full-out brawl. My grandmother raised her fists in the air and with a look of utter glee on her face said, "I just love a good old-fashioned donneybrook." I miss you, Grandma.)
  • Nov 3: The price of U.S. postage stamps increased to three cents.
And last, since we all love to read: Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard bought a small hand-press with the intention of publishing their works and the works of their friends (including Sigmund Freud and T.S. Eliot) under the name The Hogarth Press. The first book published was Two Stories by Virginia and Leonard. Today a signed first edition can sell for more than $37,000.

Other books published that year were:
  • New Adventures of Alice by John Rae (inspired by Lewis Carroll)
  • Anne’s House of Dreams (Anne of Green Gables – book 5) by L.M. Montgomery
  • The Lost Princess of Oz (Oz – book 11) by L. Frank Baum
  • His Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Once Upon a Time by A.A. Milne
  • The Setons by O. Douglas
  • The Camp Fire Girls Larks and Pranks (Book 5) by Hildegard G. Frey
  • Abraham Lincoln by Wilbur F. Gordy
  • The Soul Of A Bishop by H.G. Wells
  • Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant (Part 1 and Part 2) by Ulysses S. Grant
  • A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband With Bettina's Best Recipes by Louise Bennett Weaver, Helen Cowles LeCron

I just love that last title. It's so ironic that it was published the year women were picketing the White House for the right to vote.

Do you have a favorite historical woman you enjoy reading about? My favorites are Jane Adams, Amelia Earhart, and Nellie Bly.

Fun fact for the day:
I had a little help writing this post....

Suzie Johnson has won several awards for her inspirational novels, including the Maggie, Lone Star, Heart of the West, and Beacon awards. She has also placed in the Touched by Love, Finally a Bride, Linda Howard Award of Excellence, and Virginia's Fool For Love contests. She is a member of ACFW, RWA, and is a cancer registrar at her local hospital. The mother of a wonderful young man who makes her proud every day, she lives with her husband and little kitten on an island in the Pacific Northwest. And although the beaches are rocky instead of sandy, lined with Madronas and Evergreens instead of Palm trees, and the surf is much to cold for wading, it is still the perfect spot for writing romantic fiction. You can visit her personal blog at http://suzieswritingplace.blogspot.com/.


  1. This was a wealth of information. I enjoyed the post.

  2. Good morning, Adge. Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed this. I had a lot of fun researching this one. Have a great day.

  3. Wow, that's so amazing that women were in government and military before they could vote. I didn't realize that.

    I love female writers, especially the early feminists back when we needed feminists. Kate Chopin and Charlotte Gilman Perkins. Also African-American female authors. Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larson, Alice Walker and more recently Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou. Talk about overcomers!

  4. It's pretty cool, isn't it, Dina? I think I was most surprised by Jeannette Rankin being elected to Congress before women could vote. Or maybe I was even more surprised that women formed the first picket line. Either way, women are amazing. Thanks for your list of authors to read, Dina.

  5. so, the cat is female?

    That year certainly had a wealth of fiction and non-fiction classics!

    I don't think a lot of people know how badly the suffragettes were treated and how long they hung in there! Very interesting stuff, Suzie!

  6. Hi Deb. Yes, the kitten is a girl. She's "Baby Cleo" after our 18 yr old Cleo who died last year. Hubby named her.

    Yes, those women worked incredibly hard so we could vote. I learned a lot while researching this, and I think I'll continue researching the subject.

  7. I've got a story with a suffragist heroine that I really want to see published. Those women were brutalized, but they were incredibly courageous.

    The women who picketed the White House were criticised even by other suffragists. They were led by Alice Paul, and an offshoot of the "main branch" led by Carrie Catt Chapman. But it was the radicals, or as they were known, the militants, (though they never were violent) that actually forced change.

    The civil rights movement was based in large part on their tactics. I could go on and on. But I will save it.

    Good post, Suzie!

  8. Lisa, I read about both Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman. And I read an article about several of the women who were arrested. They even had photos of them in jail! They were incredibly brave women.

    I would love to read your suffragist book. I'd like to pursue that subject someday in the future.

  9. Great information, Suzie!
    I love to read those "what happened the year your were born" parchments!

    Loved the Virginia Woolf printing press! I would like to have one of those...

  10. Hi Cheryl,

    Yes, I'd love one of those printing presses, too. I don't remember how I stumbled onto that particular bit of info, but it was fun to research. She was definitely innovative.

  11. Suzie, I mentally commented on this post so many times while away from my laptop that I thought I'd actually posted it.

    Oh, I'm with Cheryl about the printing press. Since researching Emma's story, I'm in awe of the whole printing industry and the prevalence of letterpress printers still in operation today.

    And I happened to be reading your post and that recipe book was on the screen when hubby walked past. He sure got a chuckle out of that title. :D

    Thanks Suzie. I love this type of post.

    Anita Mae.


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