You probably know these historical women by name, but do you know why they’re famous? In honor of the International Women’s Day (8th of March) the following feature was made to commemorate these wonderful women.
Karen von Blixen-Finecke
When she lived: 17 April 1885 – 7 September 1962. Karen Christenze Dinesen was a Danish author also known by her pen name Isak Dinesen. She also wrote under the pen names Osceola and Pierre Andrézel. Blixen wrote works in Danish, French, and English.
Fact: Blixen is best known for Out of Africa, her account of living in Kenya, and one of her stories, Babette’s Feast, both of which have been adapted into highly acclaimed, Academy Award-winning motion pictures. Prior to the release of the first film, she was noted for her Seven Gothic Tales, for which she is also known in Denmark.
Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, described it as “a mistake” that Blixen was not awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature during the 1930s. She never did win, though she finished in third place behind Graham Greene in 1961, the year Ivo Andrić was awarded the prize.
Quote: ”The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.” – The Deluge at Norderney, Seven Gothic Tales, 1934
Catherine the Great
When she lived: In the 18th century, Catherine the Great, or Catherine II, was born as Yekaterina Alexeyevna in Russia in 1729.
Fact: As the longest standing female ruler in Russia, Catherine the Great was, indeed, quite great in her time. Catherine was hardly a lady who ran her kingdom from a gilded gold chair — as a leader on the front lines of many a battle and war, Catherine proved herself time and time again as a force to be reckoned with, pushing the Russian Empire at the time, into its position as one of the strongest powers in Europe. In addition, Catherine the Great is known for bringing Western ideals into the lives of Russians, including funding the first college of sorts, for Russian women.
Quote: “A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache.”
When she lived: The niece of Theodore Roosevelt, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born in 1884 and lived until 1962.
Fact: Best known as the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (they were actually distant cousins!), Eleanor was, without a doubt, one of the most outspoken and prominent First Ladies that has ever been in the White House. As a First Lady to a President who suffered from polio, Mrs. Roosevelt took a larger role in the politics of the Presidency than First Ladies before her had. She was known for taking public stances on the rights of women and children and stood against racial discrimination.
Quote: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
When she lived: Living nearly a century, Harriet Tubman, born Araminta Harriet Ross, was born in 1820, passing away in 1913.
Fact: Harriet Tubman has a long list of world-changing headlines on her resume. After escaping the clutches of slavery in 1849, Harriet rescued countless others from the same fate, operating the Underground Railroad, the secret passageway from the South into Pennsylvania in the North, which was a free state at the time.
Quote: “I freed thousands of slaves, and could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves.”
When she lived: Born in Poland in 1867, Marie Sklodowska, lived until 1934, alongside her husband, Pierre Curie.
Fact: If you have daughters, this is a woman in history who will inspire them to break through the gender lines. Marie Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1903, as well as the only woman to win the award for more than one category. She is, without a doubt, the most famous woman scientist in history, especially for her work with radioactive materials.
Quote: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
When she lived: The most recent historical woman on our list, Rosa Parks was born in 1913, living until 2005.
Fact: A woman who lived so recently that she easily could have been one of our grandparents, Rosa Parks is famous for standing up for Civil Rights, refusing to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama during the height of racial segregation in our nation in 1955. Her refusal led to her arrest, bus boycotts, protests and, eventually, legal actions that declared segregation laws to be unconstitutional. Rosa Parks’ brave actions and the resulting bus boycotts in the name of Civil Rights for all, regardless of race, led to the rise of another well-known historical figure, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was in the days after Ms. Parks’ refusal to give up her seat that he was elected as the head of the newly-formed Montgomery Improvement Association.
Quote: “Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.”
Susan B. Anthony
When she lived: With a life that spanned the 1800s, Susan B. Anthony was born in 1820 and passed away just after the turn of the century in 1906.
Fact: The most significant leader in the fight for women’s suffrage, Susan B. Anthony actually began her work as an activist during her involvement in the fight against slavery. American women today should say a little thanks to Ms. Anthony each time they vote — she was the one who secured the right for all of us!
Quote: “I think the girl who is able to earn her own living and pay her own way should be as happy as anyone on Earth. The sense of independence and security is very sweet.”
There are so many important women in history, far too many to list here! For them too we wish to make this small statement, and seek inspiration and role models like them.