February is Black History Month!

2014 National Women’s History Month Theme & Honorees


February is Black History Month

Black History Month recognizes and honors important people and events in the history of African-American history.  In 1926 noted historian, Carter G. Woodson, originated the idea of “Negro History Week”. Woodson chose the second week of February because it marked the birthdays of two Americans who greatly influenced the lives and social condition of African Americans – former President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

The tradition of what became Black History Month greatly influenced the expansion of academic scholarship and the corresponding recognition of the rich history of African Americans.

February Highlights in US Women’s History, generally

  • February 1, 1978 – First postage stamp to honor a black woman, Harriet Tubman, is issued in Washington, DC
  • February 4, 1987 – First “National Women in Sports Day” is celebrated by Presidential Proclamation
  • February 12, 1869 – The Utah Territorial Legislature passes a bill allowing women to vote
  • February 15, 1921 – The Suffrage Monument, depicting Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott, sculpted by Adelaide Johnson, is dedicated at the U.S. Capitol
  • February 15, 1953 – Tenley Albright became the first American woman to win the World Figure Skating championship
  • February 17, 1870 – Esther Hobart Morris in Wyoming became the first American woman Justice of the Peace
  • February 24, 1912 – Henrietta Szold founds Hadassah, the largest Jewish organization in American history, focusing on healthcare and education in the Israel and the U.S.
  • February 24, 1967 – Jocelyn Bell Burnell makes the first discovery of a pulsar, a rapidly rotating neutron star
  • February 27, 1922 – U.S. Supreme Court upholds the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees women the right to vote

February Birthday

  • February 1, 1878 (1950) – Hattie Wyatt Caraway, first woman elected to the U.S. Senate (1932, D-AR), first woman to preside over the Senate (1943)
  • February 1, 1910 (1988) – Ursula Nordstrom, children’s book editor, worked at Harper & Brothers after secretarial course in 1931, became director of the Department of Books for Boys and Girls (1940) where she edited landmark books including Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight, Moon, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and Stuart White, Shel Silverstein’s  The Giving Tree, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, and “I Can Read Books” with Elsie Minarick’s Little Bear
  • February 1, 1930 (1986) – Ruth Ross, magazine editor, helped found inaugural issue of “Essence” (1970), which included articles of leading African-American scholars and writers, however the Black Perspective, first to address issue of race in the media, feared advertising losses and removed her so the magazine became “less black”
  • February 3, 1821 (1910) – Elizabeth Blackwell, the first fully accredited female doctor in the U.S. (1849), along with her sister Emily, founded the first medical school for women
  • February 3, 1874 (1946) – Gertrude Stein, poet, author, art critic, famous for her phrase, “A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”
  • February 4, 1865 (1921) – Lila Valentine, Southern suffrage leader, introduced kindergartens and vocational training into public education in Virginia, recognized health needs with the Visiting Nurse Association fighting tuberculosis, supported the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia and the National American Woman Suffrage Association after visiting England and realizing that many health issues required women’s voice, made 100 speeches in Virginia
  • February 4, 1913 (2005) – Rosa Parks, “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,” her arrest after refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, sparked a boycott of the bus system, which eventually led to the Supreme Court decision to integrate buses
  • February 4, 1918 (1995) – Ida Lupino, prolific American woman director and actress, born in England, emigrated to Hollywood in the 1930’s, involved with movies dealing with social issues, bigamy, polio, unwed mothers, and rape more than 40 years before the topics were widely discussed
  • February 4, 1921 (2006) – Betty Friedan, author and activist, wrote The Feminine Mystique (1963), cofounded the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966
  • February 5, 1905 (1999) – Mirra Komaroysky, Russian born, fled first to Kansas and then to Brooklyn, studied effect of male unemployment in families and conflicts in women’s lives, wrote Women in the Modern World (1953), predating Betty Friedan by 10 years
  • February 5, 1914 (1994) – Hazel Smith, Mississippi journalist, first woman to win Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing (1954), although a segregationist, she supported law and justice and wrote that society must follow the law on integration, which led to bankruptcy and extreme poverty, a TV movie, “A Passion for Justice,” (1994) was based on her life
  • February 6, 1887 (1985) – Florence Luscomb, architect and reformer, first woman to graduate from MIT (as an architectural graduate) in 1909, gave 222 speeches for woman suffrage in 14 weeks, learned to drive and repair her party’s touring car, sold copies of “The Woman’s Journal,” ardent outdoorswoman, joined ACLU in 1919, helped to derail anti-communism crusade in Massachusetts, NAACP official (1948), ardent opponent of the Vietnam War
  • February 7, 1867 (1957) – Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of beloved Little House books
  • February 7, 1918 (1997) – Ruth Sager, scientist, graduate of the University of Chicago, worked on corn genetic research in plants, studied cancer research after 1975, became professor of cellular genetics and chief of the Cancer Genetics Division at Harvard Medical School
  • February 8, 1911 (1979) – Elizabeth Bishop, poet and writer, graduate of Vassar, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1956, struggled with depression, alcoholism and asthma, wrote on a variety of subjects, probably her most enduring work is Geography III (1976)
  • February 9, 1849 (1941) – Laura Clay, anti-slavery proponent from childhood, woman’s rights advocate from 1869, president of Kentucky Woman Suffrage Association (1881) and the Kentucky Equal Rights Association, popular lecturer for suffrage but states’ rights position led her to oppose the 19th amendment in Tennessee in 1920
  • February 9, 1944 – Alice Walker, writer, first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, for The Color Purple (1983)
  • February 10, 1883 (1959) – Edith Clarke, first woman to earn an M. S. in electrical engineering from MIT (1919), first woman professor of electrical engineering (1947), invented the Clarke Calculator, a graphical device for solving power transmission line equations
  • February 10, 1901 (1992) – Stella Adler, family fled from Russia in 1892 when Yiddish plays were prohibited, debuted in 1922 in New York, developed 2-year curriculum at Stella Adler Acting Studio in New York and Los Angeles, graduates include Marlin Brando and Robert De Nero
  • February 10, 1907 (1992) – Grace Hamilton, first African-American in the Deep South’s state government, elected to the Georgia General Assembly 1966-84, credited with Andrew Young’s victory in Georgia’s Congressional election in 1980
  • February 10, 1927 – Leontyne Price, Grammy Award winning opera singer
  • February 11, 1925 (1998) – Aki Kurose, interned in 1942, the American Friends Service Committee funded her college work, anti-war projects included treatment for cancer victims of Hiroshima, taught peace education in Seattle schools where she used Martin Luther King’s nonviolent example
  • February 12, 1884 (1980) – Alice Roosevelt Longworth, “Princess Alice,” the first political celebrity of the 20th century, when her father Theodore Roosevelt was asked why he could not discipline her, he explained that he do that or rule the country but he couldn’t do both, as adult she espoused isolationist ideas of America First
  • February 12, 1926 (1992) – Joan Mitchell, abstract painter, creations included many 6- and 8-foot canvasses with animals, her poetry also included nature and animals subjects
  • February 13, 1906 (1990) – Pauline Frederick, journalist, first woman network radio correspondent (1939), first woman to moderate a presidential debate (1976)
  • February 14, 1847 (1919) – Anna Howard Shaw, woman suffrage leader, exceptionally fine orator, licensed as Methodist Protestant minister in 1880, graduated as M.D. in 1886, organizer with Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association 1888-92, lectured in every state, beloved president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (1904-15), awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for her work during World War I
  • February 14, 1891 (1977) – Katherine Stinson, the fourth licensed woman pilot in the country (1912), first to fly mail from Helena, Montana (1913), first woman to “loop the loop” (1915), first woman to fly in Asia, drawing 25,000 to watch in Tokyo
  • February 14, 1904 (1988) – Jessie O’Connor, journalist, Smith College magna cum laude (1925), reported textile strikes in North Carolina and coal strikes in Harland Co., Kentucky, helped those accused of communism, Vietnam anti-war opposition, and anti-Reagan protests
  • February 14, 1914 (1976) – Nancy Love, pilot, ferried planes to Canada during World War II as Commander of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) 1940-42, group later absorbed into WASPs
  • February 15, 1820 (1906) – Susan B. Anthony, inspirational leader of 19th century women’s right movement, national suffrage strategist, lecturer, activist
  • February 15, 1935 – Susan Brownmiller, writer, also known as Susan Warhaftig, writes novels and conducts historical research, including Against Our Will: Men, Woman and Rape (1975) and a memoir, In Our Time
  • February 16, 1870 (1927) – Leonora O’Reilly, labor organizer, founding member of the Woman’s Trade Union League, helped found NAACP
  • February 16, 1905 (1988) – Louise Larson, first Chinese American and first Asian American reporter in a mainstream daily paper (1926), received many awards, wrote memoir Sweet Bamboo (1989)
  • February 17, 1912 (2005) – Andre Norton, writer, Alice Mary Norton used “Andre” thinking that it would be more salable in science fiction and fantasy, also used pseudonyms “Andrew North” and “Allen Weston,” 50 years later she was named “Grand Dame of Science and Fantasy”
  • February 17, 1930 – Ruth Rendell, author who under the pseudonym “Barbara Vine” became popular in America for her psychological crime thrillers novels but she is really the English Baroness of Babergh, C. B. E.
  • February 18, 1931 – Toni Morrison, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, first African-American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1993)
  • February 18, 1934 (1992) – Audre Geraldine Lorde, writer, authored a book of poetry or essay almost every year, fought sexism and homophobia, joined the struggle for civil rights and feminism, created Kitchen Table Women of Color Press with others in 1988, wrote A Burst of Light to highlight her response to liver cancer
  • February 19, 1902 (1992) – Kay Boyle, writer and political activist, involvement in anti-Vietnam war demonstrations led to jail sentence in Oakland, CA, considered by some a better writer than Djuna Barnes and Anais Nin but has not yet earned similar acclaim
  • February 19, 1952 – Amy Tan, novelist, mother-daughter relationships are subject of The Joy Luck Club, now in 35 languages, The Kitchen God’s Wife (1991), and The Bonesetter’s Daughter (2001)
  • February 20, 1805 (1879) – Angelina Grimké, abolitionist, joined the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1835 and addressed “mixed” audiences in 1837, wrote An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South criticizing slavery in 1836, after which a price was placed on her head should she return to South Carolina
  • February 20, 1902 (1995) – Katharine Way, Ph. D. in nuclear theory at the University of North Carolina (1938), developed the Way-Wigner formula for fission produced decay, her concern for the health of retirees led to Durban Seniors for Better Health in the City of Medicine
  • February 21, 1855 (1902) – Alice Freeman Palmer, educator, founded the predecessor organization to the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in 1881
  • February 21, 1903 (1977) – Anais Nin, began her 69 volumes of journals with a letter to her father, found she liked recording her thoughts in stream of consciousness style, some journals were published in 1966, also wrote novels and D.H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study (1932)
  • February 21, 1927 (1996) – Erma Bombeck, humorist and columnist, began writing obituaries and columns on gardening, eventually wrote books of humor, supported the Equal Rights Amendment, appeared on “Good Morning America” for 11 years
  • February 21, 1936 (1996) – Barbara Jordan, politician, star debater at Texas State University, served in Texas state legislature 1962-72, elected to the House of Representatives 1973-78 where she sponsored expanding the coverage of the Voting Rights Act and voted to impeach Nixon, taught 17 years at University of Texas, awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1994)
  • February 22, 1876 (1938) – Gertrude Bonnin (Zitkala-Sha), writer; Sioux Indian activist, founded the National Council of American Indians (1926)
  • February 22, 1892 (1950) – Edna St. Vincent Millay, first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1923)
  • February 22, 1900 (1996) – Meridal LeSueur, passionate poet and writer of short fiction and essays dealing with unfair labor conditions and the land rights of Southwest and Minnesota Native American tribes
  • February 23, 1900 (1991) – Elinor Warren, composer, gifted pianist, wrote more than 65 art songs, major works with orchestra are “The Harp Weaver” (1936) and “The Legend of King Arthur” (1970)
  • February 23, 1904 (1995) – Helen Nearing, determined to live a more simple life, she and her husband Scott learned better techniques for surviving independently and also for getting maple syrup, traveled on lecture circuit where they publicized their The Good Life practices, which they had refined at their Maine homestead and organic garden
  • February 25, 1910 (1992) – Millicent Fenwick, fashion editor, member of the New Jersey General Assembly (1969-73), earned the nickname “Outhouse Millie” for her fight for better working conditions for migrant workers (including portable toilets), won seat in Congress in 1974 and served three terms, turned up in comic strip “Doonesbury” as “Lucy Davenport,” champion of gun control, campaign spending limits, and ERA
  • February 26, 1859 (1953) – Louise Bowen, Chicago philanthropist, saved Hull House financially in 1935, funded the Woman’s Club building, demanded removal of health hazards from Pullman Company, obtained minimum wage for women at International Harvester Company and raised $12,000 for families of strikers
  • February 26, 1921 (1985) – Wilma Heide, educator and women’s studies pioneer, president of National Organization for Women 1971- 72, spearheaded sex discrimination charges against ATT
  • February 27, 1890 (1989) – Mabel Staupers, graduate of Freedman’s Hospital of Nursing (now Howard University) in 1917, led Harlem Committee of the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association, organized health education, public lectures, free exams and dental care for school children, fought for full racial integration with the help of Frances Bolton, integrated Army and Navy nurses
  • February 27, 1897 (1993) – Marian Anderson, opera singer, first African-American member of the New York Metropolitan Opera (1955)
  • February 28, 1898 (1992) – Molly Picon, Yiddish actress, performed around the world beginning with “Baby Margaret” at age 5, entertained troops in Korea and Japan during World War II, renowned for her somersaults and flips well into her seventies, wrote one-woman show, “Hello, Molly” (1979), and an autobiography, Molly (1980)
  • February 29, 1916 (1994) – Dinah Shore, singer and actress, performed on WSM in college with Frankie Laine, Dennis Day, Frank Sinatra and others, became a regular on Eddie Cantor’s show in 1940, entertained USO troops during World War II (12,000 at Versailles), won first of 10 Emmy Awards in 1955 for “The Dinah Shore Show,” which ran until 1962

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