In 1969, Golda Meir was the first woman to become Prime Minister of Israel. Before the infamous appellation “Iron Lady” was applied to Margaret Thatcher, Ms. Meir was known as the “Iron Lady.” Additionally, she was called by David Ben Gurion “the best man in government.”
Born on this day in…
1665 – Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre (d. 1729) was a French musician, harpsichordist, and composer. The daughter of a family of musicians, it is no surprise that she performed in front of King XIV himself and was hailed one of the foremost few musicians of her time. During her youth, she was under the tutelage of Françoise-Athénaïs, Marquise de Montespan, the most popular maîtresse en titre of King XIV.
1820 – Jean Ingelow (d. 1897) was an English novelist and poet, renowned for her contribution to children’s literature. In her youth, she submitted writings to various magazines under the nom de plume of “Orris.” This was a common practice of women writers in the nineteenth century.
1846 – Kate Greenaway (d. 1901) was a writer and illustrator of children’s literature. Her illustrations depicted children wearing fashions of the regency era, spawning a regency-inspired fashion movement for children in the 1880’s and 1890’s. She was a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours which she joined in 1889.
1849 – Cornelia Clapp (d. 1934) was an American zoologist, marine biologist, and academician. In her lifetime, she was counted as amongst the foremost zoologists, despite the fact that women were only beginning to become involved in the field of science. She was the first woman to received PhBs from Syracuse University and the University of Chicago.
1886 – Princess Patricia of Connaught (d. 1974) was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria who relinquished her title of princess to marry a commoner, the Honourable Alexander Ramsay. She was considered a great beauty and one of the most celebrated potential brides throughout Europe. She was an artist who specialized in water colors.
1927 – Betty Allen (d. 2009) was an immensely popular African American operatic mezzo soprano whose career flourished from the 1950’s to the 1970’s. As an African American woman, Ms. Allen transcended the barriers of racial prejudice and was celebrated by many in the world of opera.
1933 – Myrlie Evers-Williams is an American Civil Rights activist and journalist as well as widow of Medgar Evers, the American Civil Rights activist who was sadly assassinated in 1963. Ms. Evers-Williams previously served as a chairwoman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She delivered the invocation at the second inauguration of former president, Barack Obama.
Died on this day in…
659 – Gertrude of Nivelles (b. 626) was a seventh century abbess, abbey foundress, and celebrated Roman Catholic saint. She was canonized in 1677 by Pope Clement XII. Her feast day is March 17th and her patronage consists of: the Netherlands; gardeners; travelers; mental illness; cats. She was known for her temperance of character, maturity, charity, and sobriety of heart.
1949 – Aleksandra Ekster (b. 1882) was a Russian painter who specialized in cubo-futurist, suprematist, and constructivist art. Unlike most women of her time, Ms. Ekster received an exceptional education including languages, art, music, and private drawing lessons. She was acquainted with Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, and Georges Braque. A popular figure in avant-garde art, Ms. Ekster was experimental and she received inspiration from different cultures.
1956 – Irène Joliot-Curie (b. 1897) was a French scientist who was the daughter of Marie Curie and wife of Frédéric Joliot-Curie. After discovering artificial radioactivity, she and her husband were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1935. She was an advocate of women’s education and served on the Comité National de l’Union des Femmes Françaises (National Committee of the Union of French Women).
1961 – Susanna M. Salter (b. 1860) was an American politician and activist. Ms. Salter was the first woman to serve as mayor of Argonia in Kansas. The story goes that a group of pranksters put Ms. Salter’s name on a slate in the running with an intention of humiliating her and proving that women were not suited for public office. Ms. Salter clearly proved them wrong.