Tag Archives: womens history month

Women Who Rock: Laura Ingalls Wilder


Laura Ingalls Wilder lived a simple life on the prairie, which she captured for millions in her writing (which were our favorite books when we were younger!), telling stories about growing up on the American frontier. She did much of her writing after her only daughter, Rose, had grown and left home, but getting a later start hasn’t had an effect on her books’ reach. “Little House on the Prairie” and her other 10 other books have been translated into more than 40 languages. “I had no idea I was writing history,” she had said, but she was. [She taught me that you should put maple syrup on snow -- yum. -- Catherine]

Further reading:

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life by Pamela Smith Hill
  • The Complete Little House Nine-Book Set
  • Keep reading »

    Vatican Newspaper: Washing Machine Biggest Liberator Of Women

    What do we women have to thank for our liberation in the 20th century? You may be thinking the birth control pill or the right to work outside the home or abortion rights. But really, the Vatican newspaper says perhaps we have the washing machine to thank. Yes, the washing machine. The idea was presented in “The Washing Machine and the Liberation of Women — Put in the Detergent, Close the Lid and Relax,” published in l’Osservatore Romano, the semi-official Vatican newspaper, to mark International Women’s Day. This article, which goes on to chronicle the history of the washing machine, may seem like a joke at first because the idea of the washing machine as liberator of women seems so ludicrous. But when we really think about it, we can’t expect anything affiliated with the Vatican and Catholic Church to champion birth control, abortion, or completely equal rights for women. With that said, maybe the article, which was written by a woman, should have focused on the neutral topic of education for women. No one can deny education has liberated women in the 20th century. If you’d like to read more on the accomplishments of women, then check out ourWomen Who Rock” series. [Reuters] Keep reading »

    Women Who Rock: Maria Agnesi

    Maria Agnesi (pronounced on-YAY-zee) was born May 16, 1718 in Milan, Italy, the eldest of the 21 (!) children Pietro Agnesi fathered with his three wives. Although women weren’t normally educated at the time, Maria’s father recognized her potential. The family wealth, derived from the silk trade, allowed Agnesi to be taught by the most learned members of the Roman Catholic Church — and she didn’t disappoint. Agnesi learned Italian and French as a youngster, and by the time she was 13, she also spoke Latin, Greek, Spanish, Hebrew and Spanish. Keep reading »

    Women Who Rock: Valentina

    March is National Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating by sharing a lady we admire each weekday.

    VALENTINA (1904-1989)

    Today, tabloids (and websites like us!) report on what designers’ clothes celebrities wear to movie premieres and trips to the grocery store. If we had been following star style from the 1920s through the 1950s, we would have written about designer Valentina. Back then, everyone was on a first-name basis with Valentina, who designed clothing and costumes for great actresses like Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, and Norma Shearer, along with socialites such as the Vanderbilts and the Whitneys. She even introduced a perfume, My Own, in 1950. Valentina once said, “Simplicity survives the changes of fashion,” and the five little black dresses hanging in our closet couldn’t agree more.

    Future Reading:

  • Valentina: American Couture and the Cult of Celebrity by Kohle Yohannan
  • Valentina, A Designer Of Clothes For Stars In The Theater, Dies at 90
  • Couture, the Great Designers by Caroline Rennolds Milbank
  • Costume Design on Broadway: Designers and Their Credits, 1915-1985 by Bobbi Own
  • [Photo: Life] Keep reading »

    Women Who Rock: Mary-Ellis Bunim

    March is National Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating by sharing a lady we admire each weekday.

    MARY-ELLIS BUNIM (1946-2004)
    If you grew up watching soap operas or spent your high school and college years slacking off on homework in favor of a little show called “The Real World,” you have Mary-Ellis Bunim to thank. The TV producer was born in Massachusetts in 1946 and spent a significant chunk of her career working in daytime television, overseeing over 2,500 hours of programming as executive producer of classic soaps like “Search For Tomorrow,” “Loving,” “Santa Barbara,” and “As The World Turns.”

    But in the early ’90s, the ambitious Bunim founded Bunim-Murray Productions with Jonathan Murray, and pitched a bunch of scripted soap operas to MTV. When they discovered that it was too expensive for the network, they decided to try out a new model — unscripted TV starring “real” people, as opposed to actors. “The Real World” was born, and the series was a such a massive success, it’s spawned a spin-off, “Road Rules,” and is now in its 21st season, with a 22nd season to debut later this year. It’s no wonder The New York Times dubbed her, “the mother of reality television.” Keep reading »

    Women Who Rock: Lois Long

    March is National Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating by sharing a lady we admire each weekday.

    LOIS LONG (1901-1974)

    One of the first female writers at The New Yorker, Lois Long initially covered nightlife for the magazine under the nom de plume Lipstick. That’s right, she got to party for a living. Since no one knew who this Lipstick character was, Long could be as sassy as she wanted her columns, writing memorable lines like, “It was customary to give two dollars to the cabdriver if you threw up in his cab,” and the prohibition was the result not teaching the countries youth “to drink with aplomb.” Not only did she went on to start the “Tables For Two” column, but she continued to write “On & Off The Avenue” for the magazine until 1968. An editor at the magazine has said that Long was the first American fashion critic to approach fashion as an art.

    Further Reading:

  • Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern by Joshua Zeitz
  • [Photo: iStockphoto] Keep reading »

    Women Who Rock: Wangari Maathai

    March is National Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating by sharing a lady we admire each weekday.

    WANGARI MAATHAI (1940- )

    Raised by a family of subsistence farmers in rural Kenya, Wangari Muta Maathai recognized the connection between outdated farming practices, erosion, and poverty early on in life. In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement, which hired village women to plant trees in order to stop this vicious cycle. Maathai has been very vocal about the link between poor farming practices and armed conflicts in Africa. “Quite often, the wars are fought over resources, and many of the wars that today are being fought in the world are based on the natural resources. And so it is extremely important that we manage our resources on this planet sustainably and that we promote justice and equity and human rights,” she said in 2004, the year she became the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Maathai’s political and environmental views were on occasion met with physical violence. She was repeatedly harassed, beaten, and arrested by authorities for carrying out politically unpopular campaigns during the despotic regime of Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi, who thought women had no place challenging the projects of men. But more than thirty years later, the Green Belt Movement is credited with planting 30 million trees across Africa.

    Further reading:

  • Wangari Maathai, NobelPrize.org biography
  • The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience by Wangari Maathai
  • Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World by Jane Breskin Zalben
  • Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Maathai
  • [Photo: AP] Keep reading »

    Women Who Rock: Diana Vreeland

    March is National Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating by sharing a lady we admire each weekday.

    DIANA VREELAND (c.1906-1989)
    In 1936, the editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar gave Diana Vreeland, a wife and mother of two, a job, even though she technically didn’t have any experience. Vreeland began telling women to live extraordinarily with her “Why Don’t You” column (a sample: “Why don’t you tie black tulle bows on your wrists?”). She influenced what women in America wore with her work as a fashion editor at Bazaar for 25 years before and then at Vogue, where she first worked as an associate editor before becoming editor in chief in 1963. During her reign, she shook up the fashion world by using women who looked like individuals (Lauren Hutton, Ali McGraw), and helped along the careers of now-infamous designers, including Oscar de la Renta. Vreeland always took chances and did the unexpected, and she hoped others would do the same with their clothing choices and the way they lived their lives.

    Further Reading:

  • D.V. by Diana Vreeland
  • Allure by Diana Vreeland
  • Diana Vreeland by Eleanor Dwight
  • Diana Vreeland: Bazaar Years by John Esten
  • [Photo: AP] Keep reading »

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