NO, the word HerStory is not a misspelling. We embraced this term because the contributions of women have been unreported, underrated, or ignored.
Washington Post columnist Monica Hesse has written that history has a massive gender bias. She stated, for example, only 18% of Wikipedia biographical articles are about women. Dr. Bettany Hughes, award-winning British historian, has pointed out that while “ women have always been 50% of the population, they occupy only around 0.5% of recorded history”.
Additionally, all around us there are women doing remarkable things; making their mark in HerStory.
Of course we cannot completely fill this great void in recorded women’s HerStory but we are determined to make inroads by bringing you the stories of the wonderful accomplishments of women, most of whom you probably have little or no knowledge.
All women have a mentor or shero that is largely unknown. If you know such a story, post it here.
The first Native American to become a prima ballerina.
Born in 1925, Tallchief grew up on the Osage Reservation in Oklahoma. As noted in a NY Times tribute to her, "Growing up at a time when many American dancers adopted Russian stage names, Ms. Tallchief, proud of her Indian heritage, refused to do so, even though friends told her that it would be easy to transform Tallchief into Tallchieva."
Tallchief kept her name and made her mark throughout the dance world, dancing with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1942 to 1947 and the New York City Ballet from its founding in 1947 through 1965. She is pictured here in the title role of George Balanchine's ballet "Firebird." This dance legend passed away in 2013 at the age of 88.
To discover our favorite fictional picture books about Mighty Girl dancers, visit our blog post, "Dancing Her Heart Out: 20 Picture Books About Mighty Girls Who Love to Dance," at https://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=12378
And, for more books about Native American and Indigenous girls and women to share during November's Native American Heritage Month, check out our blog post, "A Celebration of Native American and Indigenous Mighty Girls," at https://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=10365
Posted by Reid Cornwell on Jul 04, 2020 in Background
On the night of April 26, 1777, 16-year-old Sybil Ludington climbed onto her horse and set off on a mission: a 40-mile ride to muster local militia troops in response to a British attack on the town of Danbury, Connecticut. Riding all night through rain — and traveling twice the distance that Paul Revere rode during his famous midnight ride — Sybil returned home at dawn having given nearly the entire regiment of 400 Colonial troops the order to assemble. Following the battle, General George Washington personally thanked Sybil for her service and bravery. Although every American school child knows the story of Paul Revere — largely thanks to the famous poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow — unfortunately few are taught about Sybil Ludington's courageous feat.
Born in 1761 in Fredericksbug, New York, Sybil Ludington was the oldest of Colonel Ludington's twelve children. His militia troops had disbanded for the planting season when word came that British troops were marching towards Danbury, Connecticut, where the Continental Army had a supply depot. While her father planned their response, Sybil volunteered to rally the militia following her father's instruction to "ride to the men, and tell them to be at his house by daybreak."
It was 9 pm, already dark and raining heavily, when she mounted her horse, Star, and set off through Putnam County, New York. She rode from her family's farm in Kent, south to the village of Carmel, down to Mahopac, then west to Mahopac Falls, north to Kent Cliffs and Farmers Mills; from there, she rode further north to Stormville before returning south to the farm. As she rode 40 miles through the night mustering the militia, she used a stick to bang on the shutters of neighbors' homes, yelling "The British are burning Danbury!" By the time she returned home, exhausted and soaked to the skin, most of the four hundred soldiers were on their way.
While Colonel Ludington's troops could not save Danbury from being burned, they joined forces with the Continental Army at the Battle of Ridgefield the following day. The American forces drove General William Tryon, the British governor of New York, back to the British fleet at Long Island Sound, halting their advance and protecting more American cities from attack. The British raid also led to a surge of support for the Patriot cause, and 3,000 local residents joined the Connecticut Army of Reserve soon after the British sailed away.
Following her daring nighttime ride, Sybil was thanked for her heroism and service by grateful neighbors and by General George Washington, then Commander of the Continental Army. Unlike Paul Revere, whose name became universally known thanks to Longfellow's poem, Sybil's ride had been mostly forgotten by her death in 1839 at the age of 77. In 1907, however, Ludington's great-nephew Louis S. Patrick wrote an account of her ride, which piqued interest in this unsung Revolutionary War figure.
In 1935, New York State erected a series of historic markers along her route, and a statue of her by renowned American sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington was erected in Carmel, New York in 1961. In 1975, she was honored on a U.S. Bicentennial stamp that depicted her on her horse. And, since April 1979, runners have also challenged themselves with the Sybil Ludington 50K Run, an ultramarathon that approximates the route she traveled on her ride. While her 'midnight ride' has never been given the same recognition as that of her famous contemporary, Sybil Ludington's place in history is now secure and her story is a powerful reminder of the many daring girls and women who served their country during the fight for independence.
For decades Sonia Pressman Fuentes has dedicated herself to the cause of women's' rights. Her achievements and the well-deserved accolades for her work have been many.
In 1963 she testified in Congress on behalf of the ACLU In favor of passage of the Equal Pay Bill.
She became the first woman attorney in the General Counsel's office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Sonia is a co-founder of the National Organization For Women (NOW).
She is a co-founder of the Women's Equity Action League (WEAL) & Federally Employed Women (FEW).
In November 1996, she was awarded the Veteran Feminist of America Medal of Honor by Betty Friedan.
In 1999 she was a recipient of the Women at Work Award of Wider Opportunities for Women.
She is a charter member of the Veteran Feminist of America.
She is one of the longest-serving members of the Board of Trustees of the National Woman's Party.
In 2000 she was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame and included in Women of Achievement in Maryland History.
Sonia has lectured extensively in this country and abroad as an "American specialist" on women's rights.
As the highest-paid women at both GTE Service Corporation and TRW, she served as an attorney and executive.
Her memoirs: "Eat First-You Don't Know What They'll Give You: The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter"
The following article, written by Steven A. Biggs, appeared in "Passages", the magazine of HIAS, The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
Born in Berlin in 1928 to Polish parents, Sonia Pressman (who added Fuentes to her name when she married) fled with her family to the United States in 1933 to escape the escalating situation in Germany. After spending months in Antwerp, the family boarded the S.S. Westernland for the United States and arrived in this country on May 1, 1934. After HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) helped the family to get settled in the Bronx, her father returned to the business he'd been in in Berlin and opened a men's clothing store in Manhatten.
Unable to adjust to the pace of like in New York City, he relocated the family to the Catskill Mountains of New York. There the Pressmans entered the summer resort business, first renting and running a rooming house in Woodridge and then building and operating a bungalow colony on 50 acres in Monticello.
Because Sonia's English was superior to that of her parents, she handled all the family's legal work, including the drafting of rental contracts, which ignited her interest in the legal profession. While in high school, at the urging of a classmate, Sonia applied for and was awarded a scholarship and made plans to attend Cornell University. Her parents were deeply opposed to her going to college and felt that a college education would "turn off any prospective suitors." Despite these objections Sonia went and began her school career by majoring in languages, then switched to psychology and spent her senior year in the Graduate School of Business and Public Administration.
After graduating Phi Beta Kappa, Sonia moved to Long Beach, N.Y., to join her parents, who by this time had sold the bungalow colony. Sonia expected to be inundated with job offers, but they never came. Instead, she had a series of short-lived jobs, and, after seven months, she went back to school, this time to study shorthand at a business college. She finished her shorthand course on a Friday and that Monday she landed a job as a secretary. She worked as a secretary for four years, felt she was not living up to her potential and decided to go to law school. In 1954, she entered the University of Miami School of Law in Coral Gables, FL.
After graduating first in her class, she went to work as a lawyer for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. In 1965 she got a job as the first women lawyer in the general counsel's office at the newly created Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (EEOC). The EEOC's mandate at that time was to enforce a law that prohibited employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. The agency's main goal was to fight discrimination against African Americans because the law the agency implemented grew out of the civil rights movement. In its first fiscal year, however, the agency found that the allegations of sex discrimination constituted 37 percent of the charges filed.
"At that time, few Americans were aware that there was such a thing as sex discrimination," recalls Fuentes. "In my early speeches for the EEOC, any references to 'women's rights' was greeted with laughter. Words like 'sex discrimination' and 'women's rights' hadn't yet become part of our national vocabulary." "At that time, men and women lived in two different worlds. A woman's place was in the home. Her role was to marry and raise a family. She was not to have career ambitions, although she could work for a few years before marriage as a typist, clerk, secretary, telephone operator, schoolteacher, a saleswoman, librarian, social worker or performer. When she had children, she was to raise her sons and daughters differently so that they too would conform to the socially acceptable gender roles."
The EEOC moved very slowly on issues of sex discrimination or not at all, and this became very frustrating to Sonia, who by this time had become one of the most aggressive people on the staff of the EEOC with regard to the issues of sex discrimination. She had an opportunity to vent that frustration when Betty Friedan, author of The Feminist Mystique, came to the EEOC to conduct interviews for an upcoming book. Behind closed doors, the two women spoke. "I told her this country needed an organization to fight for women like the NAACP fought for African Americans," recalls Fuentes.
In June 1966 at a luncheon during the Third National Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women in the United States, Betty Friedan and a small group planned an organization that subsequently became NOW (National Organization for Women). Its purpose, as written on a paper napkin by Friedan, was "to take the actions needed to bring women into the mainstream of American society, now, full equality for women, in fully equal partnership with men," By the end of the day, NOW had 28 members.
In October 1966, a second organizing meeting was held at which another 26 founders, one of whom was Sonia, adopted a statement of purpose and skeletal bylaws. NOW then embarked on an ambitious program of activities to get the EEOC to enforce the anti-discrimination law for women. As a result of pressure from NOW, the EEOC began to take seriously its mandate to eliminate sex discrimination. It conducted hearings and began to issue interpretations and decisions implementing women's rights. As a result of NOW's actions, the EEOC's rulings, court decisions and the developments that followed, the status of women in this country began to change - not only with respect for employment, but in every area of society.
Sonia retired as an attorney with the Federal government in 1993 and is now an accomplished public speaker and author.
**Kathy Lueders, the NASA official who oversaw the historic SpaceX astronaut launch last month, has been named the new head of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate! In this role, Lueders will lead all of NASA's human spaceflight programs, including the Artemis moon program which plans to land the first woman on the moon in 2024. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine praised her appointment in a statement, observing: "Kathy gives us the extraordinary experience and passion we need to continue to move forward with Artemis... and achieve the ambitious goals we’ve been given."
When Lueders, who has been working at NASA since 1992, was an undergraduate at University of New Mexico, her initial interests were in finance and she had dreams of working on Wall Street. In her senior year, however, she discovered a love of engineering and earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in industrial engineering from New Mexico State University.
In 1992, Lueders began working with NASA at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico where she was only the second woman to work at testing facility. There, she managed the Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System and Reaction Control Systems Depot. She went on to work at NASA's International Space Station (ISS) program where she helped coordinate robotic cargo shipments to the ISS as a transportation integration manager.
Since 2014, she had led NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which involves partnering with private businesses to develop craft that can transport astronauts, a project that became increasingly important when the space shuttles were retired in 2011. Since then, American astronauts have been dependent on Russian spacecraft to reach the ISS. NASA envisioned commercial craft becoming the new transportation method for American astronauts, as well as a key element of future planned space missions to the Moon, Mars, and potentially even further.
As the Commercial Crew Manager, Lueders oversaw NASA grants to organizations like Boeing and SpaceX, and ensured that proposed craft would meet all of NASA's safety and certification requirements. Last month, Lueders oversaw SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft flight, which took astronauts Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley to the space station and marked the return of human spaceflight to the U.S. for the first time in a decade. Before the launch, Lueders praised the commercial partners who have been working on developing NASA's next generation of space flight technology. "You can never sell this NASA and SpaceX team short," she declared. "They’ve accomplished miracles for me."
As the new director of the human spaceflight office, Lueders will be at the forefront of NASA's plans for crewed missions beyond Earth's orbit, which include the Artemis mission, a Mars mission to take place in the 2030s, and potentially the development of an off-Earth economy that includes more frequent human travel into space. "We have our sights set on the Moon and even deeper into space," Bridenstone asserted, "and Kathy is going to help lead us there."
She became the first woman to reach Challenger Deep, the deepest known point on Earth, in the South Pacific.
On Monday, shortly after completing the expedition in their submersible, Sullivan and her fellow diver Victor Vescovo — who was already one of just a handful of people in the world to reach Challenger Deep — coordinated a call with the International Space Station.
"As a hybrid oceanographer and astronaut this was an extraordinary day, a once in a lifetime day," she said in a statement released by EYOS Expeditions, which supported the expedition.