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Women in History: March 21st



1152 – The marriage of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Louis VII of France was annulled. Due to Eleanor’s inability to give her husband a son and their growing marital discord, Louis sought an annulment. Their two daughters, Marie and Alix were to remain with their father while Eleanor’s lands were returned to her. Just weeks later, Eleanor would marry Henry II of England.

Born on this day in…

1474 – Angela Merici (d. 1540) was an Italian religious educator and a recognized Roman Catholic saint. Foundress of the Company of St. Ursula, she focused on the education of girls and young women. She is the patron saint of sickness, those with disabilities, and orphans.

1752 – Mary Dixon Kies (d. 1837) was an American inventor. Ms. Kies created a way to join together straw, silk, and thread to create new bonnets. She had a patent that was signed by President John Madison on May 08, 1809. It is said that she was the first American woman to receive a patent. Some say that Hannah Slater was actually the first to receive a patent.

1857 – Alice Henry (d. 1943) was an Australian suffragist, journalist, and trade unionist. She became a popular figure in the American Trade Union and the Woman’s Trade Union League. On the matter of women voting she said, “I do not feel that the vote is any sort of advance for women. If you give suffrage to men and not women you are putting women on a relatively lower plane. Society will go backward if women don’t get to vote.”

1866 – Antonia Maury (d. 1952) was an American astronomer. She was known for her early catalog of stellar spectra which was published in 1897. Ms. Maury worked at the Harvard College Observatory as a Harvard Computer, a female who processed astronomical data. She was awarded the Annie Jump Cannon Award in Astronomy by the American Astronomical Society in 1943.

Died on this day in…

1063 – Richeza of Lotharingia (b. between 995 and 1000) who was a noblewoman and a member of the Ezzonen dynasty who married Mieszko II Lambert, King of Poland. She was a nun in her later years and is currently recognized as a Blessed in the Roman Catholic Church.

1729 – Elżbieta Sieniawska (b. 1669) was a Polish noblewoman, Grand Hetmaness of the Crown, and a celebrated patroness of the arts. Ms. Sieniawska was the foremost woman of the Commonwealth and was known as the “Uncrowned Queen of Poland.” Of her it is said that she was a woman of reason, wisdom, and shrewdness. A secretary of the French embassy, Monsieur de Mongrillon said of her: “she is a true Amazon. She smokes like a man. It is said that the Tatar ambassador who came to Poland with peace overtures came to smoke by her bed and she smoked with him.”

1920 – Evelina Haverfield (b. 1867) was a British suffragist and aid worker who played an active role in the Suffragette Movement. She took part in Emmeline Pankhurst’s militant women’s suffrage movement and worked as a nurse in Serbia during the First World War. Ms. Haverfield was arrested for striking a police officer in the mouth in 1910. Of the event, she said, “It was not hard enough. Next time I will bring a revolver.”

1934 – Lilyan Tashman (b. 1896) was an American Vaudevillian actress who also performed on Broadway. The majority of her roles included villainesses and the other woman. She appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies from 1916 to 1918. Know to be tall, blonde, and slender, Ms. Tashman was known to be a great beauty and to have a characteristic throaty voice.

1943 – Cornelia Fort (b. 1919) was an American aviator who was present during the Pearl Harbor attack. She engaged with the Japanese on that day, barely escaping with her life. She was the second woman to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots and the first American female pilot to die ever in active duty.

2003 – Gaura Pant aka Shivani (b. 1923) was a celebrated Indian authoress who was known for her Indian female-centered fiction. In addition, she wrote popular Hindi magazine stories. She had something of a cult status with her writings and some were even turned into television series. When she passed away, the government of Indian described her eminent contribution to Hindi literature, “in the death of Shivani the Hindi literature world has lost a popular and eminent novelist and the void is difficult to fill.”

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