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Women in History: March 23rd


1568 – The Peace of Longjumeau (also known as the Treaty of Longjumeau) was signed by Catherine de’ Medici and her son, Charles IX of France. This was an important moment in the French Wars of Religion, granting the Huguenots religious privileges and freedoms.

Born on this day in…

1430 – Margaret of Anjou, the infamous Lancastrian Queen (d. 1482) and wife of Henry VI of England. Playing a key role in the Wars of the Roses, Margaret led Lancastrian forces against the Yorkist army. She was said to be proud, passionate, and strong-willed.

1732 – Princess Marie Adélaïde of France (d. 1800) was the daughter of King Louis XV, King of France and Marie Leszczyńska. The fourth daughter and sixth child, she possessed the title fille of France (“daughter of France”) and never married. It is known that Marie and her siblings attempted to stamp out a liaison between their father and Madame de Pompadour. Marie and her two other unmarried sisters spent the rest of their days gossiping and knitting.

1842 – Susan Jane Cunningham (d. 1921) was an American mathematician who played a key role in the founding of Swarthmore College. In addition, she was a founder of the departments of mathematics and astronomy at Swarthmore College. Ms. Cunningham was the first woman to join the New York Mathematical Society (which eventually became the American Mathematical Society).

1882 – Emmy Noether (d. 1935) was a German mathematician who contributed to abstract algebra and theoretical physics. Several said of her, including Albert Einstein, that she was the most important woman in the history of mathematics. In the field of physics, Noether’s Theorem (named for her), elaborates on the correlation between symmetry and conservation laws.

1895 – Encarnacion Alzona (d. 2005) was a Filipino educator, historian, and suffragist. Ms. Alzona was the first Filipino woman to achieve her PhD. She was also appointed the title of National Scientist of the Philippines in 1985. A brave and determined woman, she lobbied for the Filipino women’s right to vote and fought against the Japanese during the Second World War.

1899 – Dora Gerson (d. 1943) was a Jewish-German cabaret singer and beautiful actress of the silent film era. Along with her husband and two children, she died at Auschwitz concentration camp on February 14, 1943. When the Nazis came into power in 1933, Ms. Gerson was forbidden from acting in “Aryan” films and turned to recording music. In her song “Vorbei,” she immortalized life in pre-Nazi Germany:

They’re gone beyond recall
A final glance, a last kiss
And then it’s all over
under the frame of eternity
A final word, a last farewell

Died on this day in…

1914 – Rafqa Pietra Choboq Ar-Rayès (b. 1832) was a Lebanese Maronite nun and Roman Catholic saint who was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2001. Of her vocation, Rafqa said, “When I entered the Church I felt immense joy, inner relief and, looking at the image of the Blessed Virgin, I felt as if a voice had come from it and … said to me: You will be a nun.”

1965 – Mae Murray (b. 1885) was an American actress, screenwriter, dancer, and film producer who was popular in the silent film era. One of her nicknames was “Gardenia of the Screen.” Her career took a tragic turn when she married David Mdivani and he urged her to leave acting, thus breaking the contract. Her career never recovered.

1981 – Beatrice Tinsley (b. 1941) was a New Zealand cosmologist and astronomer. Ms. Tinsley made major contributions to how a galaxy evolves, grows, and dies. She was the first woman professor of astronomy to teach at Yale University.

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