At the beginning of every month I put an article on this site’s home or landing page that is intended to inform and give readers ideas for creating content related to women’s history, the historic events of the month, and historic and archaeological events involving women. There are between 30 to 40 prompts or spin off points in each of these “month of…” posts.
This month I meandered about, around, over and through lists of dates, writers, women, and events, all the while thinking I would never find the right voice for creating…
German and Aerial Connections (+/- 20 prompts)
Somehow an aerial woman and early aviatrix presented themselves to me, probably through Today in Women’s History on Saints, Sisters and Sluts, a site/blog/reference which I highly recommend, and I was off and writing.
The first German woman balloonist to fly solo, on April 16, 1811,was Wilhelmine Reichard who was born on April 2, 1788. She was also, as far as I could tell, the first woman to navigate to an altitude (approximately 7,800 meters or 25,600 feet) that caused her to lose consciousness and crash the balloon into the countryside. Yes, she was injured. Apparently she healed and decided that a female doing exhibitions of solo ballooning was a good way to help her husband fund the creation of a chemical company. The company was formed and he then operated until his death when she took over management of the company. Adventurous and entrepreneurial. Oh, and she was a mom, too. Not too shabby for a woman born in the 18th Century.
April is also associated with another piloting story from a full century after Reichard’s ballooning.
On April 16, 1912 Harriet Quimby, an early American aviator, journalist, and early screenwriter became the first woman pilot to fly across the English Channel. A year earlier she was awarded a U.S. pilot’s certificate by the Aero Club of America, thus becoming the first woman to gain a pilot’s license in the United States. Only a few months after her flight across the channel she died in an air show accident on July 1, 1912 when she was thrown from her monoplane.
Another German woman also captured my attention for April. Mathilde Franziska Anneke should be known as well as many other 19th Century American suffrage activists. How she disappeared from the standard biography of Women’s Rights Activists confounds me. Mathilde was friends with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. She was Vice President of the National Women’s Suffrage Association in 1869.
Her life began in an upper class German family but after she divorced her husband from the marriage arranged by her mother, she discovered the women’s right movement when the courts upheld all her husband’s paternal rights and none of hers. Always a woman of intellect and well-read, she began to document and publish her own works and was recognized as an owner, writer, editor in the socialist movement in Germany. She, as a war correspondent, and her second husband, Fritz Anneke, as a soldier, fought in the German uprising of 1848. The revolution was unsuccessful and the Annekes were forced to flee Germany. Within a short time they found their way to Wisconsin where Mathilde began the first feminist journal published by a woman in America. She addressed the 1853 National Women’s Suffrage Association where she met Stanton and Anthony. She was an adamant abolitionist and believed that women’s equality under the law had to precede any socialist reform. She also started a girls school in Wisconsin in her later years and is now recognized as a remarkably forward thinking educator.
Her publications, such as Deutsche Frauen-Zeitung, and the anti-slavery series, “Broken Chains” in German, can still be found in archives and the occasional reprint. Erasure of her influence in American feminist thought can probably be traced to anti-German sentiments that abridged history that occurred after WWI.
Notable April Birthdays (+/- 15 prompts)
April 3, 1934: Jane Goodall, primatologist and conservationist.
April 4, 1928 (d.2014): Maya Angelou, author, poet, civil rights activist.
April 7, 1915 (d.1959): Billie Holiday, jazz singer hailed as “Lady Day,” the most influential female jazz singer in America.
April 7, 1944 (d.2002): Julia Miller Phillips, film producer, 1st woman to win an Academy Award for Best Picture “The Sting” (1973), also produced “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Taxi Driver.”
April 8, 1892 (d.1979): Mary Pickford, silent film actress in dozens of films. Co-created United Artists production company.
April 10, 1930: Delores Huerta, Chicana activist, labor organizer, co-founder of the United Farm Workers union.
April 14, 1866: Anne Sullivan Macy, Helen Keller’s teacher.
April 17, 1916 (d. 2000)– Sirima Bandaranaike, Sri Lankan/Ceylonese, served as Prime Minister three times. In 1960, 1st female modern head of government.
April 22, 1901 (d. 1995): Vera Maxwell, practical sportswear designer, styles permitted greater freedom of motion. Worn by Martha Graham and Pat Nixon.
April 24, 1934: Shirley MacLaine, film and theater actress, dancer, recently in BBC’s “Downton Abbey.”
April 24, 1942: Barbra Streisand, singer, actress, director and producer.
April 25, 1917 (d.1996): Ella Fitzgerald, “First Lady of Song,” internationally renowned jazz singer, 13 Grammy Awards
April 26, 1933: Carol Burnett, actress, comedian, singer, writer.
April 27, 1906 (d.1993): Alice Dunnigan, 1st African-American journalist accredited to cover Congress, and the White House, Supreme Court and State Department. Documented Klan actions when no newspaper covered them.
April 27, 1927 (d.2006): Coretta Scott King, civil rights, human rights, and peace activist.
Notable April Events (+/-2)
April 7, 1987: Opening of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.
April 26, 1777: Sybil Ludington, 16 years old, rides 40 miles on horseback in the middle of the night to warn American militiamen that the British were invading.
Arbor Day is on the last Friday in April. Write something tree-y.
April 22 is Earth Day.
Why not write a poem (it is national poetry month) maybe about stone and flowers of the month – diamonds or daisies – or even the birth of Buddha (April 8)?
Musically This Month (+/-2)
April 24 1964: The Beatles hold an unprecedented record of twelve positions on Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
April 10,1970: Beatles Break Up
This month WLP is doing a series of 26 posts, one every Monday through Saturday with an A to Z coverage of the theme of Legacy Tools.
It is a busy Spring. Hope you will continue to enjoy it with us.