Her’s Day Thursday

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The other night, I was watching PBS (a nightly ritual before I go to bed…sheesh, how old am I?!) and a local program came on, highlighting influential women in history that were from Oklahoma. One of them was Kate Barnard.

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Catherine Ann “Kate” Barnard was born in Geneva, Nebraska in 1875. After her mother passed away when she was little, her father sent her to live with relatives and he joined the Land Run in Oklahoma. After staking his claim, Kate journeyed to Oklahoma to live with her father. In 1895, she attended a Catholic school and earned a teaching certificate, teaching until 1902.

When she quit teaching, Kate took a business course and became a secretary for the territorial legislature. She was chosen to represent Oklahoma at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. It was there that she met Jane Addams and other social reformers. This was the first time Kate had been exposed to city life, and experienced first-hand the slums and terrible living conditions the poor had to endure. When she returned to Oklahoma, she was determined to help bring about social change.

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She threw herself into aid and charity work, participating in Farm Labor meetings and even being elected the Charities and Corrections Commissioner. Through her appointment, she enacted essential education laws, helped create programs to support poor widows, and a state ban on child labor. Kate also advocated for safe working conditions and the eradication of “blacklisting” union members. She was also a voice for abused Native American children. Through her incredible speeches, she was able to convince politicians that there was a deep need to increase federal protection for members of the Five Tribes. Her most notable achievement has been noted as uncovering the abuse of Oklahoma prisoners being held in Kansas. Kate discovered the prisoners were being subjected to torture and forced labor in coal mines. Because of her findings, it forced the governor to return the prisoners to Oklahoma and resulted in the building of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlister.

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Kate’s political career ended during her second term in office. She fought so diligently for the needs of Native Americans who were being cheated out of their land. Because of her devotion to righting this wrong, she made many enemies, including William H. Murray who convinced the state legislature to defund her office. In her book, A Chief and Her People, Wilma Mankiller quoted Kate: “I have been compelled to see orphans robbed, starved, and burned for money. I have named the men and accused them and furnished the records and affidavits to convict them, but with no result. I decided long ago that Oklahoma had no citizen who cared whether or not an orphan is robbed or starved or killed – because his dead claim is easier to handle than if he were alive.”

Kate died in 1930, due to many lingering health problems and was inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame in 1982.

Thank you, Kate, for your amazing work for Oklahoma!

 

 

 

 

 

Her’s Day Thursday

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This weekend is Mother’s Day and, even though I touched on it during my Monday blog, I want to say again how great moms are. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom wiping noses/butts/hands all day, a working mom who juggles car pools and staff meetings, a stepmom that is searching for her place in her new bonus kids’ lives, an older mom looking around at her empty nest, or an aunt that loves her nieces and nephews as though they’re her own, I salute you. You do the grunt work: the kissing the boo-boo’s, the driving to and from school events and practices, the searching your kid’s head for lice, cutting crusts off bread, wiping tears from your teen’s face (and holding back your own) because of something that happened at school, and countless other tasks that may seem menial, but to those you are serving it means the world.

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This weekend, sit down, put your feet up, and get pampered! You deserve it! And, on the off chance you’re able to go to the bathroom alone, watch this hilarious video and try to smile at the beautiful chaos that surrounds you!

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Last week, I noticed that Google had a new doodle on its homepage honoring Mary Pickford:

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Intrigued, I clicked on it to learn more about the lady in the drawing. I learned a lot about this awesome lady and want to share it with you!

Mary Pickford (given name: Gladys Louise Smith) was born Toronto, Canada on April 8, 1892, the oldest of three children, to John and Charlotte Smith. When Mary was about seven years old, her father passed away. In order to make ends meet, Mary’s mother began taking in boarders for income. One of her first boarders was a theatrical stage manager. He immediately saw something in little Mary and was able to have her cast in two plays.

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Soon, acting became a family business. Mary, her mother, and her siblings traveled around taking parts wherever they could get them. Mary was growing frustrated. She decided that if she did not land a big role soon, she was going to quit acting for good. Not long after this declaration, Mary earned a role in the Broadway play, The Warrens of Virginia. It was in this play that Mary met Cecil B. deMille, another actor (and future famed director). After the play’s run was over, Mary was out of work again. She screen tested for a film, but was not chosen. However the director, D.W. Griffith, was taken with her and encouraged her to try out for more films. Because of this push, she was eventually cast in 51 films in 1909 alone!

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Her career soared and she went on to form the independent film production company United Artists with D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, and Douglas Fairbanks. Mary went on to be a producer as well as win an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1929.

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Mary broke down barriers in an industry which still, to this day, is very much male-oriented. But kudos to Mary–aka, “The Girl With the Curls”–and the other women who are determined to follow their dreams and get more women on screen!

 

 

 

 

 

Her’s Day Thursday

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I’m always looking for books that I can read to Huff the Tot that show powerful/influential women in history, especially in the sciences and math. I was never into science or math growing up but I want HtT to know that she can do whatever she puts her mind to–including physics, calculus, and biology! I’ve found a few new books I’d like to add to our personal library!

Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia

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This book is about a brilliant lady named Hypatia. She grew up in the city of Alexandria around 4 A.D. She was one of very few women of her time that was tutored in math and science, and even taught Socrates!

The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps

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This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of Jane Goodall. The book begins with her childhood and shows how Jane became enthralled with primates, dedicating her life to the study of chimps.

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine

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I honestly do not know much about Ada Lovelace, so this book may make an appearance on Huff the Tot’s shelf! This book explains how Ada wrote the very first computer program in the 1840’s!

 

Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer

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Henrietta Leavitt was an astronomer that discovered the relation between the luminosity and the period of Cepheid variable stars. Because of her findings, astronomers are able to measure the distance between Earth and faraway galaxies!

 

Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists

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This book features six amazing women who worked hard to preserve and understand the world around them. Girls Who Looked Under Rocks highlights women such as Rachel Carson and Maria Merian, intelligent, ground-breaking women who were able to break through a “men’s only” field and prove their intellectual prowess while making a positive impact on the environment.

 

Have you read any of these books? Do you have suggestions to add to this list? Share in the comments below!

 

 

 

Her’s Day Thursday

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It’s been a while since I’ve written about an amazing lady in history, so I thought I’d fix that today! Our wonderful woman was a daredevil who pushed boundaries and didn’t let racism or sexism get in her way! Today’s BAMF is Bessie Coleman!

Pioneer Aviator Bessie Coleman

 

Bessie Coleman was born on January 26, 1892–the tenth of thirteen children–in Atlanta, TX. When Bessie was a young child, she would walk to school everyday (four miles!). Her school was a small, one-room, segregated schoolhouse. Bessie excelled in reading and math. When she was older, she saved up her money and enrolled at Langston University in Langston, OK. Sadly, she was only able to finish one year because she ran out of money.

When she was 23, Bessie moved to Chicago and lived with three of her brothers. She made ends meet by working as a manicurist. Knowing she was meant for more, Bessie took a second job to pay for flying lessons. Because American flight schools didn’t allow blacks or women, she was encouraged by a friend to study abroad. So, with her friend helping her financially, she left the U.S. for France.

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On June 15, 1921, Bessie became the first African American woman to earn her pilots license! When she came back to America, she was a media sensation. Bessie was an extrordinary pilot and knew how to keep an audience’s attention. She was an amazing daredevil, performing such tricks as figure eights, loops, and near-ground dips which kept air show crowds in awe.

Because of her popularity, Bessie was offered a role in the movie Shadow and Sunshine. She was excited to be a part of a major motion picture and hoped it would break barriers for women and people of color. However, she soon found out that her character was going to be portrayed in tattered clothes, carrying a pack over her shoulder. She walked off the movie set, refusing to perpetuate the derogatory image that Hollywood seemed so keen on to portray blacks in America.

Bessie knew where her destiny lie, in the clouds. She’s quoted as saying, “The air is the only place free from prejudices. I knew we had no aviators, neither men nor women, and I knew the Race needed to be represented along this most important line, so I thought it my duty to risk my life to learn aviation. . .”

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Sadly, Bessie’s avionic dreams came to a halt on April 30, 1926. On her way to an air show, Bessie was in her Curtiss JN-4 aircraft with her co-pilot. Her plane had been worked on by a mechanic earlier in the day who said that he had to make three forced landings because of faulty maintenance from the previous owner. Undeterred, Bessie wanted to take her plane to the show. She did not have her seatbelt on while in the plane, as she needed to look over the co-pilot’s shoulder for his readings. As she did this, the plane took a sudden nose dive, spinning. Bessie was thrown from her aircraft and fell 2,000 feet to her death. Later, a wrench had been found inside the engine, accidentally left by the mechanic. She was just 34.

Her life was short, but her legacy is huge. Bessie broke down barriers of race and gender. Bessie Coleman, you are an inspiration to us all!

 

 

 

Her’s Day Thursday

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Since yesterday was International Women’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight some of the awesome ways women have influenced the world! Here are some amazing women who invented some extraordinary things!

Stephanie Kwolek

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Kwolek, a chemist, discovered and invented the materials used to make Kevlar bulletproof vests!

 

Florence Parpart

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We ALL owe Florence Parpart a HUGE thank you! She’s the inventor of the refrigerator (aka, The Real Happiest Place on Earth)!

 

Josephine Cochrane

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Josephine Cochrane is an A+ in book. Why? She is the inventor of the dishwasher! Saving us all (and by all I mean ALL–not just ladies) from the horror that is washing dishes by hand!

 

Marie Van Brittan Brown

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Marie was a nurse who worked odd hours and frequently found herself at home alone during the night. She collaborated with her husband and invented the home security system!

 

Tabitha Babbitt

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Tabitha Babbitt lived in a Shaker community in Massachusetts which relied heavily on the forestry business. She observed that the men exerted a lot of energy but using the two-men pull saws. Because of this, she invented the circular saw!

 

Have you ever heard of any of these inventors? Know of any others? Share in the comments below!

 

Her’s Day Thursday

 

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During the Oscars this past Sunday, GE debuted an awesome new commercial. Didn’t see it? No worries! I’ve got it right here:

 

I. LOVE. THIS.

(Also, the irony that this commercial was played during an awards show honoring celebrities was not lost on me)

I wish great women like Millie Dresselhaus were held to the same esteem as celebrities. And Millie deserves it! She was the first female professor at MIT (she taught physics and electrical engineering) and has won several awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science (among more than a dozen others)!

You can learn more about Millie here!