Her’s Day Thursday

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One of my goals this year is to blog more consistently. I’ve been failing on that front, especially with Her’s Day Thursday posts. I wanted to blog each week about a woman from every state in the U.S. So far this year I’ve hit Alabama and Alaska. Today, I’m getting back on the BAMF blogging wagon and telling you all about a great lady from Arizona: Jane H. Rider!

Jane H. Rider was born in 1889 to a homemaker mother and mining engineer father. From an early age, Jane was very interested in her father’s work. Her parents put education as a top priority and Jane was able to attend a private high school, later attending the University of Arizona. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in civil engineering—Arizona’s first female engineer.

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Her first position as a college graduate was as a bacteriologist for Arizona State Laboratories at the university she graduated from. She moved up the ladder, eventually becoming director of the lab in 1918! Her work included conducting surveys and investigations of the milk and water supplies throughout the state of Arizona. She’d collect samples by train, stagecoach, and even on horseback!

 

In a newspaper interview in 1966, Jane said this about her work: “In 1913, Arizona had the second highest infant mortality rate in the nation and a good share of the blame went to unsanitary milk,” she recalled in a newspaper interview in 1966. “Do you know what a ‘dobe hole is? When people built their adobe houses they dug the material out of the ground and left the hole. They let this fill with water to water their cattle. Then cows, on hot days, would stand in the ‘dobe hole. Then milking time came but the hossies were not washed off before they were milked, and the dirt and stagnant water got in the buckets.”

 

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Jane pushed for changes in the dairy industry, leading milk producers to pasteurize milk. She also tested foods and medicines for harmful products and worked to improve food products (and this was in the early 1900’s!).

 

Throughout her career, Jane received many awards and honors. She was accepted into the American Society of Civil Engineers, the National Society of Women Engineers, Distinguished Citizen Award from the University of Arizona, and Phoenix Woman of the Year in 1970.

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Jane H. Rider was a force to be reckoned with up until her death in 1981, fighting for cleaner water, food, and sanitary working conditions. A wonderful woman with a remarkable legacy!

Her’s Day Thursday

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On Monday, we honored a man who had a lasting impact on the world. I’m not downplaying Martin Luther King Jr.’s peaceful fight for desegregation and civil rights, however I think it is just as important to talk about the woman who stood by his side throughout his battles for equality—Coretta Scott King.

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Coretta Scott was born in Marion, Alabama in 1927. Her grandmother, a former slave, was actually the midwife at her birth. Coretta was raised with her brothers and sisters in the segregated south. Coretta’s mother, Bernice, would bus her children as well as other black children in the neighborhood to the closest school—Lincoln Normal School.

 

Coretta excelled in academics as well as in the school (and church’s) choir and band in which she played the trumpet. She graduated valedictorian of her senior class in 1945 and attended Antioch College. At the time, Antioch was a historically all-white school and, in an effort to diversify, the college gave full scholarships to African-American students. Coretta’s sister was the first black student to attend Antioch just two years prior.

 

Because of her singing and musical prowess, Coretta was awarded a full scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. While at the Conservatory, Coretta was introduced to a young man—Martin Luther King Jr. At first, Coretta was not too keen on Martin; but, as she got to know him, Coretta fell for the future pastor and civil rights activist.

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The pair married in 1953. In 1954, after earning her degree in voice and violin from the New England Conservatory of Music, Coretta and her husband moved to Montgomery, Alabama where Martin became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

 

Coretta gave up her dreams of a professional singing career and shifted her focus to the civil rights fight and assisting her husband in planning peaceful protests.

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In 1958, Coretta headlined a concert at a high school, singing songs about the fight to change legislation regarding segregation as well as break down the walls of racism. Coretta worked side by side with her husband until his untimely death in 1968. After Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Coretta continued his work and his mission as long as she lived.

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Coretta Scott King endured her home being bombed, her husband being arrested several times, and numerous attempts by the FBI and other governmental offices to discredit herself, her husband, and their marriage, and she did it with grace and peace. Thank you, Coretta, for your lovely legacy and inspiring life story.

Her’s Day Thursday

Hers Day Thursday Girl

 

Happy Thursday, fabulous females!

Was one of your New Year’s Resolutions to stress less and learn about legendary ladies? I’ve got what you’re looking for! I’ve found some printable coloring sheets starring some fantastic femmes from history!

 

Dr. Mae C. Jemison, First African-American Woman in Space

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Marie Curie, Scientist

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Women’s Suffrage

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Harriet Tubman, Abolitionist

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Joan of Arc, Warrior (and Catholic Saint) 

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Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt

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Pocahontas, Princess and Diplomat

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Have you seen any coloring books featuring great women in history? Share in the comments below!

 

 

Her’s Day Thursday

Hers Day Thursday Girl

 

One of my favorite shows to binge-watch here lately is Drunk History. Yes, its funny to see these inebriated comedians tell historical stories, but the reason I like it is it makes me research these stories to find out more about the people who are highlighted. The other night, I watched an episode about the Pinkerton Detective Agency. One of the detectives was a woman named Kate Warne.

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Kate Warne was born in 1833. Little is known about her life prior to working with the Pinkerton Agency. In 1856, Kate was left a widow at the age of 23 and saw an ad in a local Chicago newspaper for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. When she showed up at the agency and asked to speak to Allen Pinkerton, he believed she was looking for clerical work. However, Kate explained that she would best suited as a detective. After all, men tended to flap their gums and brag about things they probably ought not to brag about when a pretty woman is around. Intrigued, Pinkerton brought Kate on as a detective. He even chose her over his own brother!

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Soon after being hired on, Kate was assigned to look into embezzlement happening at the Adams Express Company. She was able to befriend the wife of the prime suspect, finding out condemning evidence about the couple, and ultimately bringing about justice to the tune of $50,000!

Not long after, The Pinkerton Agency was hired to protect president-elect Abraham Lincoln on his tour from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. When a plot was uncovered that a rogue group was planning to assassinate the next president, Kate set her own plan into action. She and Pinkerton convinced Lincoln to cut his tour short and he put his life in their hands. Kate decided that they would disguise Lincoln as her “invalid brother” and smuggle him onto a train. During the long, overnight train ride it is said that Kate did not sleep at all. Because of her tenacity and determination to keep the President safe, she inspired the Pinkerton Agency’s slogan: “We never sleep”.

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Kate Warne continued her spy and detective work throughout the Civil War and after through the Pinkerton Agency. In 1868, Kate died suddenly of pneumonia with her dear friend Allen Pinkerton by her bedside. Years later, when Pinkerton passed away, he was buried next to her at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.

Thank you, Kate, for your bad-a legacy!

 

Her’s Day Thursday

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Have you ever wondered what it could be like to be a “Bond Girl”? Well, two women knew what it was like to BE Bond—centuries before the British sex-pot spy was ever created!

 

During the American Revolution, a spy operation called the Culper Spy Ring functioned from 1778 to 1780 from NYC (which, at the time, was occupied completely by the British) all the way through Connecticut and west to none other than General George Washington’s headquarters at Newburgh, NY.

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The key spies operating the Culper Ring were Benjamin Tallmadge (Washington’s Intelligence Chief), Abraham Woodhull, Robert Townsend, John Jay, Caleb Brewster, and two women: Anna Strong and one known only as “Agent 355”.

 

Anna Strong would receive and distribute encoded messages to fellow members of the Culper Ring by hanging a black petticoat on her wash line when a message was ready. She would also include different colors of handkerchiefs to signal where and when the messages would be delivered. Go, Anna!

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There is much speculation, however, to the identity of Agent 355 but there is no denying her involvement or importance in the Culper Ring.

 

Agent 355, it is believed, was a member of higher society being born into a wealthy, British-supporting family. She lived in New York City and had easy access to members of British society as well as British officers.

 

Whenever she could, Agent 355 listened in on conversations between the officers—in that time, men held the belief that women were to have the same political views as their husbands (or, if unmarried, fathers) so they took no special precaution to censure their conversations. Because of this and her “beguiling charm”, Agent 355 was able to pass on sensitive information through the Culper Ring to General Washington. She is even credited with assisting in the outing of Benedict Arnold as a traitor!

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Agent 355–a woman on a mission!

 

Both of these ladies have been featured on the AMC series, Turn. Ever watched it? For more information on these awesome ladies, click here!

 

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Her’s Day Thursday

Hers Day Thursday Girl

 

The other night, I was watching PBS (big shocker; that’s my nightly ritual. Yes, I’m basically an 80-year-old in a 32 year old’s body) and there was a special about a woman named Lydia Mendoza.

Lydia or, “La Alondra de la Frontera,” (The Lark of the Border) was born in Houston, Texas in May 1916. Her parents were very musical–her mother and grandmother actually taught her how to play guitar when she was a toddler! When Lydia was just four years old, she built her own guitar out of wood, nails, and rubber bands. Lydia and her sister performed with her parents in a family band named La Cuarteto Carta Blanca on the streets of Houston. One day, Lydia’s father found an ad in a local Spanish newspaper, looking for musical acts. The family performed and won the chance to travel to San Antonio to record for the Okeh record label.

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Not long after, Lydia and her family moved to Michigan as migrant workers. They quickly built up a large fan base within their migrant community, with Lydia shining bright. The Mendoza family eventually moved back to San Antonio and resumed performing. In the early 1930’s, Manuel Cortez (a pioneer in Mexican-American broadcasting) saw Lydia perform and was immediately taken by her talent. He signed her and she recorded her first single, Mal Hombre. It was an instant success! Lydia toured the country with her family in tow.

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Lydia accomplished great success in her career which spanned over 60 years, 50 records, and more than 200 songs. Her soulful style, 12-stringed guitar, and ability to write deep, meaningful songs has made her a pioneer and a legend within the Spanish-speaking music community. Lydia continued to perform–even playing at Jimmy Carter’s inauguration–and tour until she suffered a stroke in 1998. She has received numerous awards and acknowledgements: the National Heritage Fellowship Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Medal of Arts, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Folk Alliance International. And, in 2013, Lydia was honored with a commemorative stamp from the United Postal Service.

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Gracias, Lydia, for your beautiful voice and amazing legacy!

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!