Helen Keller


Surprise! Hellen Keller’s contributions to the world did not end after she finger signed ‘water’ to Anne Sullivan.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this already famous woman, Helen Keller was born on on June 27, 1880 with the ability to see and hear. However, at 19 months old, she became sick with what was probably scarlet fever or meningitis, which left her both deaf and blind. She was able to sign in her own way, and by the time she was seven, she had over 60 signs she used to communicate to her family. Her mother, inspired by Charles Dickinson’s writings of successfully educated deaf women, sent for a tutor and Anne Sullivan was sent to their house. Things were rough to say the least. Young Helen didn’t understand that each object had a unique word to go with it, and even became violent at times. The breakthrough came when Helen signed the word ‘water’ to Anne, and then became fanatic about knowing the names for everything.

She was subsequently educated at several colleges, and even learned to speak out loud. She ‘heard’ others speech by feeling their lips move with her hands. She used these skills to become and outspoken activist, not only for disabled people, but for birth control, and the woman’s right to vote. She traveled the world, and upon her trip to Japan, she was introduced to the Akita breed of dog. She fell in love and brought the first Akita to America. She published 12 books, many of them about her own life.

Upon her death, she was awarded  Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the highest awards for a civilian in the USA.

Hellen Keller was a suffragette, birth control supporter and authored 12 books in her lifetime. Her first book was published at age 11, and her subsequent book, The Story of My Life, told


Artist of the Week: Lilla Cabot Perry


Lilla Cabot Perry (shown in this self portrait) was one of the most prolific and influential Impressionists in american history. She was highly respected in the artistic community, studied under Monet, and traveled the world, later blending Eastern artistic styles with her own. Her vocal praise for the Impressionist style and her success helped pave the way for other female painters of her time.

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Annie Oakley


Annie Oakley was born Phoebe Ann Mosey, in a log cabin in 1860. Her parents were quakers, and her mother had a difficult love life. When her mother was 18, she married Annie’s father, who was a few months shy of 50. She had 9 children in quick succession, including Annie. Her father, old as he was, fought in the War of 1812, but quickly succumbed to overexposure during a blizzard and died of pneumonia shortly thereafter. Her father’s death plunged the family into poverty, and young Annie rarely went to school, going to work as a nanny for a wealthy family at age ten. The family had promised her 50 cents per week for her work. Instead, she was kept as a slave, suffering physical and mental abuse. She would later refer to the family as ‘The Wolves’ but, in a huge testament of her maturity, never revealed their actual names. She ran away, and went home.

It was around this time she began hunting and trapping to support her mother and her eight siblings. She sold her spoils to fancy restaurants all around Ohio, and was so successful she paid off the mortgage on her mother’s house within a year. She became a local celebrity, and when she was 15 a shooting match was made between her and a traveling sharpshooter. The diminutive teenager must have been the last opponent he expected, but she beat him and won $100, a huge sum of money at that time. Far from being butt hurt about the defeat, this sharpshooter began courting young Annie, and they were married after a year. The marriage would last until her death.

She began performing in side shows and variety shows. She became so popular she eventually performed for Queen Victoria of England, King Umberto I of Italy, and the President of France  Marie François Sadi Carnot. So great was her skill that she even shot the ashes off of Kaiser Willhelm II. After the outbreak of WWI, she wrote the Kaiser, asking to redo her famous shot, stating her aim might have been a little off.

When the Spanish-American war broke out, Annie offered to lead a team of 50 female sharpshooters, but her offer was turned down (considering the large amount of female heroes of war on this site, I’d say that was a very stupid decision on the President’s account). Annie was passionate about teaching woman to shoot, teacher thousands how to defend themselves. “I would like to see every woman know how to handle guns as naturally as they know how to handle babies.” She said.

She continued to set sharpshooting records well into her sixties, as well as campaigning for women’s rights. She died in 1922, of pneumonia.

Josephine Baker


Ah, Josephine Baker, icon of the 1920’s. Her name brings to mind her famous banana dance, singing, the breaking down of segregation, and covert WWII missions.

Wait…no? Just the dancing? Hold onto your butts, things are about to get awesome.

Josephine was born Freda Josephine McDonald, an illegitimate black child in St. Louis. Her childhood was rough to say the least. Her parents did the best they did as singers and actors, often bringing her onstage for the finale as an infant. However, her parent’s weren’t successful enough to keep the young Josephine from digging through the trash for food. She worked as a maid, being abused several times, even having her hands burned for putting too much soap in the wash.

As if that wasn’t traumatic enough, Josephine then witnessed the St. Louis racial riots. See, a black man was accused of raping a white girl and, in keeping the the times, white people rallied against black men everywhere. Within a few hours of the beginning of the riot, over 50 black men lay dead. The experience would forever haunt Josephine and mark her morals from then on.

She began performing in vaudeville as the comedic clumsy chorus girl; the girl on the end of the line who, throughout the performance, can’t quite get the steps. Yet in the encore she would reappear dancing better than everyone else. At thirteen she was married for the first time to a Pullman Porter but, as you can imagine, the marriage was unhappy and short-lived. She married again, this time to Willie Baker. Though the marriage was equally unhappy and short lived, she decided to keep his last name, becoming forever known as Josephine Baker.

Though she had many fans in the USA including Earnest Hemingway, Josephine felt she’d achieved all she could in America as a young black woman at that time. In 1925 she left for France which would grow to be the country she loved most. There, she was ‘exotic’, not ‘trashy’. She was celebrated for her risqué dance numbers, appearing on one occasion entirely nude, clad in just a pink flamingo feather. It was also here that she rose to stardom, cultivating not only her dance, but also her lovely soprano voice. She married a frenchman and renounced her American citizenship. When WWII broke out Josephine initially retreated to her chateau. There she met Jaque A., a member of the French resistance. He admired her patriotism and invited her to work in counter espionage. She accepted and wowed all with her courage. She attended parties all over Europe, gathering information on German activities without raising suspicion. In addition to donating her home, vehicles, and money she offered members of the resistance shelter in her band. She smuggled them across boarders, using her fame to her advantage. Secret messages were hidden in her sheet music.


During the occupation of France, Josephine left for Morocco, stating that she was in poor health. In fact, it was to further aid the French Resistance by running missions to Spain. She pinned notes containing the information inside her underwear, knowing that her fame would likely prevent a strip search. It was at this time she suffered several miscarriages and her internal damage was so severe she was forced to undergo a hysterectomy, which became infected. Many thought she would die.

Throughout her career with the military, she performed for troops. That is, she performed on one condition; her audiences must not be segregated. She had so much pull as a star, that her condition was honored. She was responsible for one of the first integrations of the French military. She also allowed civilians to attend her performances free of charge. Her fan base spanned the races and classes because of this; Josephine’s deeply ingrained sense of equality.

For her efforts in the war, she received the  Croix de guerre and the Rosette de la Résistance. She was even given the honorary title of Lieutenant by General Charles de Gaulle.

After the war she returned to her Chateau, and to the stage. Now predominately a singer, she impressed audiences with her daring performances. Once she appeared as Queen Mary, singing Ave Maria behind a stained glass window. Having pushed the boundaries of society in one way, she figured she could push them in the other. Soon, she was offered a gig at a swanky night club in Miami. She refused, stating she would not perform for a segregated audience. Such was her star power, the nightclub agreed, and the show was a sell out. She went on to tour the United States, always to un segregated audiences.

But it was not to last. One night she and her friends went to have dinner at the Stork Club. She ordered food and a bottle of wine, but when neither came in an hour, she left in a fury. She ran into a reporter, and later filed a complaint on the Stork Club, dropping the reporter’s name as he was a fan of hers, but did nothing to aid her. The reporter turned against her, claiming she was a communist at the hight of the communist witch hunt in the USA. She deported from the country broken hearted.

It was then that Josephine set out to prove once and for all that anyone of any race could get along. She adopted 12 children of various races and embarked on a mission to raise them together, calling them The Rainbow Tribe. But there was a problem. Though Josephine still earned top dollar in her performances, the expenses of this experiments were enormous. She did what she could by performing, but she had no head for money and the debts mounted up. Some of the wealthy donated, which helped to keep her head above water. It was around this time she suffered several strokes and a heart attack. After all of this, she was subjected to another blow. She lost ownership of her chateau. She collapsed on the steps as she said goodbye, and had to be rushed to the hospital. Finally she moved to Monaco, and the Rainbow Tribe grew up, but with a price. To pay for her efforts, Josephine would perform until the day she died. She ended her career with four sell out shows at Carnegie Hall before finally singing of her life on stage in Paris. Her performance was universally praised, but she would lot live to enjoy it. That night, she suffered a stroke and sunk into a coma. She died, and was given a 21 gun salute state funeral.

C. L. Moore

Moore, C.L.-Photo

C. L. Moore joins her sister in history Mary Shelley as a women who practically invented something that is now regarded as a boys only club. Enter the Space Western; FireFly fans rejoice.

C. L. Moore was born Catherine Lucille Moore on January 24th, 1911. She suffered from chronic illnesses as a child and spent much of her early years confined to bed with only books to keep her company. She regained her health as a young adult, and left to find employment during the Great Depression. She started writing short stories around 1935, which began to earn her acclaim; and money. Her writings focused on emotional aspects, which was unusual at the time. She’d created the character of NorthWest Smith (see, maybe Kim wasn’t trying to be original?) a space cowboy with a space-tanned complexion. Though an anti hero in the business of smuggling, he often puts others safety before his (*Cough* Malcolm Reynolds *Cough*) She would continue to use NorthWest as a protagonist in later works.

Her work received praise from all, including H. P. Lovecraft. She caught the eye of fellow writer Henry Kuttner. He wrote to her as a fan and, because she presented her first two names with initials, he was unaware she was a women. When he found out the truth, he didn’t seem to care much. They were married, and their work became homogenous. They would quite literally, finish each other’s sentences on a typewriter. They were one, according to all who met them. After his death, Moore abandoned NorthWest and scifi.

Maybe the spark that fueled her space westerns left her when her husband did. Maybe she was just sick of NorthWest and his adventures. Whatever the reason, she continued to be acclaimed until her death, and without her, scifi would be severely lacking on subgenera that has shaped lives and imaginations.

Artist of the Week ~ Enid Yandell


Enid Yandell was an American sculptor who’s works can still be seen adorning parks today, including possibly her most famous work, Statue of Pan, which resides in Cherokee Park, Louisville. She largely abandoned sculpting after the first world war broke out. She chose to devote her time to volunteering in the red cross in Europe and helping orphaned French children. When she retired to the USA, she was elected as director of the Bureau of Communications for the American Red Cross in New York.






Zelda Fitzgerald


Ah, F. Scott Fitzgerald. I idolized him in high school, had his audio books so that I could listen to his talent wherever I went, had posters of the the covers of his books and wished someday to be as great as he was. Did he have a wife? Back then I knew he did. I knew he had a wife named Zelda, and I remembered this only because I was also a video game nerd and had been playing Legend of Zelda games since I was given a nintendo 64 for my 7th birthday. I never really thought much about her, and why would I? She probably cooked and cleaned, and maybe hosted a wild prohibition era party occasionally.

I was wrong on two fronts. Zelda was not the housewife I thought her to be, and Scott was not the hero I imagined him to be. He was a literary vampire, plagiarizing his wife’s works to improve his own and she was a truly remarkable writer.

She was born July 24, 1900, to Minnie Buckner Machen Sayre, and her husband Alabama Supreme Court Justice Anthony Dickson Sayre. Straight from the womb, she was vivacious and magnetic, causing envy, happiness, chaos, or some combination wherever she went. One popular rumor states that when she was ten, she called the fire department and reported that there was a little girl stuck on a rooftop. She gave the fire department her address, hung up, then climbed onto the roof and waited to be rescued. By her teens she was the star of everything she did, be it ballet, entertaining her friends, or attending dances.

It was at one of these dances that she met Scott, then a 21 year old lieutenant in the Army. He tried to impress her with his talent as a writer, telling her about the success he was sure was coming. She was…unimpressed. She, and her family, thought it unwise to accept a proposal from a man so clearly financially challenged. Scott was, as most put it, heartbroken. I, however, think the term ‘butt-hurt’ is a little more actuate. Her rejection of him would lead to a literary career centered around men pining after silly, unattainable women. Scott wrote to Zelda obsessively, and what began as a flirtatious exchange soon became something of a long distance relationship. It was only after Scott published his first article, This Side of Paradise, that she agreed to visit him. They married, and immediately tumbled into a lifestyle of jealousy, acclaim, and theft.

Without Zelda, there would be no Scott. He used their relationship, her sayings, even her writings to fuel his works.

Perhaps one of the first times Scott lifted lines from his wife’s mouth was when she gave birth to their son. In a pain and drug fueled haze, she muttered “I hope it’s beautiful and a fool, a beautiful little fool”. Does that ring a bell with any fans of The Great Gatsby? But that wasn’t enough for Scott. Were his motives seated in a lack of belief in his own talent, or an obsession with his wife? We’ll never know, but we do know that he read and plagiarized his wife’s personal diaries. “It seems to me that on one page I recognized a portion of an old diary of mine which mysteriously disappeared shortly after my marriage, and, also, scraps of letters which, though considerably edited, sound to me vaguely familiar. Mr Fitzgerald…I believe that is how he spells his name…seems to believe that plagiarism begins at home…” Said Zelda in one interview, regarding her husband’s newest book, The Beautiful and the Damned.

She was growing tired of this stunt, just as she grew tired of Scott’s alcoholism. This didn’t seem to deter her husband. They decided to collaborate on a book of short stories. However, when published, Scott’s name had been added to stories that only Zelda had produced, and worse, some of the stories she’d had collaborated on were whipped free of her name.

Zelda, desperate to let out her feelings wrote Save Me the Waltz, which became enormously popular. Scott, however, was furious. How dare his wife draw inspiration from their life together to write a book? In the very definition of a double standard, Scott was using lines and themes lifted from Zelda’s letters to him to fuel his book Tender is the Night, and also to fictionalize Zelda’s mental illness.

In 1930 Zelda was admitted to a ‘sanitarium’ (read: asylum) and diagnosed as schizophrenic. However, it is commonly believed today that she was suffering from bi-polar disorder (manic depression for you older folks) and not schizophrenia. She would be in and out of these asylums for the rest of her life, her manic delusions fueling the incorrect diagnosis. When home, she was reclusive and prone to violence by all accounts. By this point the Fitzgerald’s were not the popular couple they once were. Instead they were rude, moody, and plagued by their friend Hemingway’s success.

After years of alcoholism, Scott died on December 21st, 1940. Zelda did not attend his funeral. In fact, very few people attended his funeral. At the time of his death, Zelda was working on a last sadly unfinished novel, Caesar’s Things. She’d been admitted to yet another hospital, and was working away. One night the kitchens of the hospital caught fire. The inferno moved through the dumbwaiter shafts. Zelda, locked in her room, burned to death.

Zelda and her husband died believed themselves failures. However, interest in their works boomed after their deaths, mostly centered around Scott.

Yet Zelda has developed a following. It’s not large, but I hope it will grow. For all you writers out there, here’s an extremely talented woman. Check out her works.

Quick Interlude!

As some of you may know, the inspiration to create this website came from a tumblr post my friend created (and I helped!). Well, she’s got quite a few people on tumblr who wish to view her post as a pdf, and she enlisted me to help. Here is a PDF of the post that started it all! And stand by for your woman of the day 😉


Lieutenant Pavlichenko


Born in the Ukraine in 1916, Lyudmila Pavlichenko always had an affinity for firearms. When she was 14 her family moved to Kiev and she joined an amateur sharpshooter’s club while working in an arsenal factory. She went to college to study history, but in 1941, the Nazi’s started knocking at Russia’s doors, and Lyudmila decided it was time she answered. She signed up for the Red Army and was offered a job as a nurse. She turned it down, stating “I joined the army when women were not yet accepted”. Nonetheless, she managed to snag a slot in infantry and became one of 2,000 female snipers.

She was given a Tokarev SVT-40 semi-automatic rifle, a more difficult to handle version of the more popular Mosin–Nagant, but she made good use of it. In her first few months of war, she made 187 kills. Coincidentally, the California Penal Code for Murders is 187, and it’s ironic that to ‘187 them,’ is slang in many places for ‘to kill them’. But Lyudmila didn’t stop at 187. She killed a total of 309 nazis during WWII, including 36 nazi snipers.

Just one year after her rein of terror began, she was seriously wounded by mortar fire. While recovering, it was decided that she would withdraw from combat. She was becoming a pretty big deal, you see, and in WWII one needed to keep good public relations with allied countries. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt invited her to tour the United States, and Lyudmila happily agreed.

Lyudmila did indeed tour, but found some of the press’s questions odd*. One reporter asked, if women could wear makeup while fighting. Just months ago Lyudmila had been on these front lines, watching her sisters in arms die. She answered “There is no rule against it,” Pavlichenko said, “but who has time to think of her shiny nose when a battle is going on?”

Many other reporters seemed much less interested in Lyudmila’s heroics than they were with her style and appearance. She was often asked why she appeared in her uniform, instead of something more fashionable. She is quoted: “I am amazed at the kind of questions put to me by the women press correspondents in Washington. Don’t they know there is a war? They asked me silly questions such as do I use powder and rouge and nail polish and do I curl my hair? One reporter even criticized the length of the skirt of my uniform, saying that in America women wear shorter skirts and besides my uniform made me look fat…This made me angry. I wear my uniform with honor. It has the Order of Lenin on it. It has been covered with blood in battle. It is plain to see that with American women what is important is whether they wear silk underwear under their uniforms. What the uniform stands for, they have yet to learn.”

In 1943, she was awarded the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union, but she’d had enough of war. She returned to the university of Kiev and began her career as a historian. Yet her history beaconed her an in 1945 she was recruited as a research assistant of the Chief HQ of the Soviet Navy. She was later a member of the Soviet Committee of the Veterans of War

She died in 1978, and though she doesn’t have any block buster movies about her life, her image has appeared on postage stamps.

*I must interject here. I’m a military woman myself, and I’m often asked these sorts of questions. Before I met my husband, I dated as you do. Often, when I told my prospective suitor that I was in the military, he would get a gleam in his eye, talk about how ‘sexy’ that was, and ask if we had ‘female specific’ clothing. On one such occasion a suitor picked me up from work. I’d been outside all day, and was tired and sweaty. He looked at me in disgusted and couldn’t quite believe that yes, I had done hard work outside and no, I could not show cleavage in my uniform. It’s been half a century, and this is still annoying. 

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