Posts Tagged: ‘women’s history’

Barry Manilow’s 1978 smash hit “Copacabana” tells the story of:

Lola, she was a showgirl
With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there

Girlfriend of bartender Tony at the Copacabana, Lola was a character thought up by Manilow, although he could’ve certainly found lyrical inspiration in the stranger-than-fiction biography of Lola Montez, who was also a showgirl of sorts.

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On July 14, history’s last telegram will be sent, the BBC reported last week. That’s when the Central Telegram Office in New Dehli will shut down, although the more surprising news might be that telegrams still exist. In the United States, Samuel Morse sent the first successful telegraph on May 24, 1844; transmitted from Washington DC to Baltimore, it read “What hath God wrought?”

Well, what God wrought was a communication revolution, coupled with the transportation revolution of the railroad system — and a new industry open to women…

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Over on the Stuff You Missed in History Class Pinterest board, I spotted a photo of Dot Robinson, who became known as the First Lady of Motorcyling. The 1939 portrait (which is also, I discovered, the cover image of “The American Motorcycle Girls: A Photographic History of Women and Motorcycles“) shows Robinson dressed in a natty outfit with bow perched on her head to boot, sitting astride a Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead. Her Australian father was a motorcycle sidecar mechanic who reportedly scooted her mother to the hospital when she went into labor with Dot. Growing up in the shop, Dot took to the sport and married a fellow motorcycle enthusiast with whom she clocked hundreds of thousands of miles with both on- and off-road.

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In the mid-18th century, when Prussian Dorothea Erxleben-Leporin became the first female doctor in modern history, the medical profession was strictly off-limits to women because people thought it would be downright dangerous to their health. The intensive thinking and intellectualizing required would certainly send members of the fairer sex into hysteria and drain their fertility, so the pre-Enlightenment sexist rationale went; not to mention women lacked the physical strength to wield such impossibly imposing tools as handheld obstetrical forceps. Around 50 years after Erxleben-Leporin successfully petitioned the King of Prussia to grant her admission into medical school, Miranda Stuart was born in 1795. Stuart also wanted to become a doctor, but she took a shortcut around medical schools’ no-women-allowed policies and began living as a man when she was 18.

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In the Stuff Mom Never Told You episode “How did women pedal their way toward emancipation?”, Molly and I discuss the history of women and bicycles and how access to that revolutionary transportation beginning in the 1890s helped propel women toward gender equality. But don’t just take from us; Susan B. Anthony herself was a bicycle enthusiast, famously stating “I think [bicycling] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”

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Cristen kicked off our dream women’s history road trip yesterday with a bang: It will be hard to top the girl power on display in Seneca Falls, NY. Today, I’m whisking you off to MomStuff’s backyard, the American South. It’s time for a little arts and culture, as we’re visiting some literary landmarks and celebrating the contribution of women to American literature.

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This week on the blog, Molly and I are planning out the MomStuff dream summer road trip across the U.S. Each day, we’re highlighting a landmark commemorating a significant person or event involved in women’s history. Hope y’all enjoy the ride.

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