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Women in History: March 16th

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Born on this day in…

1465Kunigunde, Archduchess of Austria (d. 1520) was born. As a member of the House of Habsburg, she spent much of her life in the limelight and had a part to play in political intrigue. She went on to serve as co-regent with her son, Wilhelm IV before retiring from court life.


1750 – Caroline Herschel (d. 1848) was a renowned German-English astronomer in her time. Receiving numerous awards during her career, she was the first woman to be awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society and to join the Royal Astronomical Society. She discovered a multitude of comets, most notably 35P/Herschel-Rigollet.


1799 – Anna Atkins (d. 1871) was a botanist and photographer. In a time when photography was new, she was the first woman to create a photograph. When Ms. Atkins published her book Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions in 1843, she was largely considered the first person to publish a book with photographic images.


1822 – Rosa Bonheur (d. 1899) was a popular French artist and sculptor who specialized in animalière (painter of animals) art. Throughout the nineteenth century, Ms. Bonheur was considered to be the most famous female painter. Contrary to the practices of the day, she as known to wear men’s clothing and was something of a new woman.


1846 – Rebecca J. Cole (d. 1922) was a physician and social reformer in her day. She was the second African American woman to become a doctor in the United Nation. She was a strong advocate for the welfare of impoverished women and children. Sadly no photograph of her exists.

Died on this day in…

1279 – Joan, Countess of Ponthieu (b. 1220) was the Queen Consort of Castile and León, wife of Ferdinand III. When her husband died, she was cheated out of promised lands and an income by Alonso X, her stepson. Her daughter, Eleanor would go on to become the first wife of Edward I of England.


1485 – Anne Neville (b. 1456) was Queen Consort of England and wife of the infamous Richard III. Her father was Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick.  She was an important figure in the Wars of the Roses and one of England’s greatest heiresses. She married twice: firstly to Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales and secondly Richard III.


1936 – Marguerite Durand (b. 1864) was a journalist, an actress, and a suffragette. In 1896, as a journalist, a newspaper she wrote for sent her to report on the Congrès Féministe International (International Feminist Congress) and from that was born her desire to be a suffragette. She had a strong passion for activism supporting the rights of working women.


1940 – Selma Lagerlöf (b. 1858) was a Swedish authoress and a teacher as well as the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. She was known for writing Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige (The Wonderful Adventure of Nils), specializing in children’s literature. It is known that her father was against her furthering her education and being a part of the women’s movement.


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