Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Celtic Noblewoman's Tomb

From The Local:
In a discovery described as a “milestone of archaeology,” scientists have found a 2,600-year-old aristocratic burial site at the Celtic hill fort at Heuneburg in Baden-W├╝rttemberg.

The noblewoman's tomb, dating from early Celtic times, measures four metres by five metres, and is exceptionally well-preserved. It contained gold and amber jewellery that makes possible for the first time the precise dating of an early Celtic grave.

Using heavy cranes, the excavation team lifted the entire burial chamber out of the ground as a single block of earth and placed it on a special truck so that it could be carried off for further analysis.

The dig leader and state archaeological chief Dirk Krausse labelled the find a “milestone of archaeology.”

Judging by the ornamentation in the chamber, the archaeologists believe the tomb was built for a woman from the nobility of the Heuneburg fort, though this couldn’t be said with certainty until further investigations could be made under laboratory conditions.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

UK Museum Drama - Mary Prince

From Bernews:
The Museum of London is launching a one-hour dramatic reenactment of the life of Bermuda slave Mary Prince for visiting school children.

An actor will be portraying the Bermudian woman whose 1831 memoir helped to galvanise the abolitionist movement and end the institution of chattel slavery in in British territories two years later in a production intended to bring history to life for youngsters.

“Meet Mary in 1831 London, when the anti-slavery movement published her life story,” says a Museum of London promotional release . “Born into slavery, as a child she was the ‘pet’ of a rich white girl and as an adult she suffered hard labour working as a field slave. Although in England she was free she could not return to her husband in the Caribbean because she would become enslaved again.”

Bermudian Mary Prince is also featured in a permanent display at the museum called “London, Sugar & Slavery” which commemorates the roaring trade in humans and sugar, slave resistance and the abolition campaign and the enduring relationship between the British capital and the Caribbean.

Women Writing Torahs

Kadima, a Jewish community in Washington, wanted to buy a Torah written by a woman. After making inquiries, they learned that there were no Torahs written by women. So they decided to commission six women to write one.

Since the time that this Torah was commissioned, in 2003, several women have become Torah scribes (or sofrot) is and completed the writing of a Torah on their own.

Top Women in Technology

2010 has been an interesting year in terms of technology. We’ve seen tablets become an everyday part of living (though we’re still not sure of their purpose), 3D viewing advance dramatically, and augmented reality took off, thanks to the rise of compatible mobile applications. Alongside these tangible products, there has been much advancement in the backend of science and technology with talented scientists researching medicines, creating programs and extending their knowledge of the virtual world. Many of these projects were spearheaded by women, and I’d like to draw your attention to the top thirteen women who have impacted technology in 2010.

Secret Lives of the Great Artists' Lovers

For as long as man has painted, he (and it usually is a he) has painted his lovers. Look at any of the great works of Western art and, chances are, you will find a mistress, girlfriend, wife or prostitute centre stage.

They may not announce themselves as such, going under the discreet title of Woman Sewing, Girls Bathing or simply Repose. But they’re there all right, these soul mates and play mates, lighting up the canvas with a particular kind of intimacy.

As all these examples suggest, a cloud of suspicion hung over male artists and their choice of female subjects. Painting a wife or sister might seem the obvious way of sidestepping adverse comment, but the problem was that at that time the act of putting a respectable woman on view tarnished her reputation. So there was no choice but to go looking for women who had nothing to lose and perhaps something to gain – the affection of an interesting man, the warmth of the studio, a meal – by becoming public property.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Magdalene de Saint Nectaire

Extract from "The Percy Anecdotes" (pub: 1839):
Magdalene de Saint Nectaire, the widow of Gui de Saint Exaperi, was a protestant, and distinguished herself very much m the civil wars of France. After her husband's death, she retired to her chateau at Miremont, in the Limousin, where, with sixty young gentlemen, she used to make excursions upon the catholic armies in the neighborhood. In lhe year. 1575, M. Montel, governor of the province, having had his detachments often defeated by this extraordinary lady, took the resolution to besiege her in her chateau with fifteen hundred foot and fifty horse. She sallied out upon him, and defeated his troops. On returning, however, to her chateau, and finding it in the possession of the enemy, she galloped to a neighboring town, Turrenne, to procure a reinforcement for her little army. Montel watched for ber in a defile; Imt his troops were defeated, and himself mortally wounded.

Propertia da Rossi

Extract from "Anecdotes of Some Distinguished Persons" (pub: 1795).

For more on Propertia (or Properzia) da Rossi:
Artisti Donne in Italia - Italian Women Artists
Women Artists in the 16th & 17th Centuries

Lucy Anne Ward (1856 - 1935)

Founder of Outback Maternity Home

Lucy was born six years after her parents first arrived in Australia from England. She became a milliner and operated a shop in North Adelaide, South Australia. Aged 22yo Lucy married Henry Ward. She left city life and travelled by horse and buggy to Willachra - 400km away. She and her husband had to clear the land, fence it and build their house - times were hard so they both took extra work wherever they could.

For the birth of Lucy's first daughter Lucy Evelyn (1880) there was probably no doctor and only assistance from her mother-in-law. She gave birth to another daughter (1882) who died (1885). She adopted her baby niece after the death of its mother but it later died aged 5yo - Lucy was aged 33yo. She had no more children of her own but adopted two more babies.

When relatives in the Hawker district decided to leave, Lucy and Henry bought the house. Lucy was not a trained nurse, but she acquired considerable practical knowledge through her own experiences and in the homes of other women. Lucy began to take in women far from any kind of help. With the difficulties of travel, many of these women from outlying areas often needed to stay for several weeks, and often brought their other young children with them. Since the ability to pay was never an issue, finances were not easy. Lucy cooked, cleaned, carted water, washed, and supplied milk and butter from her own dairy.

Soon the demand became greater than the house could accommodate, and so Henry built extra rooms, and "the Gables", as the house became known, was registered as a Lying-in Home (1909) under the State Children Act (1895). When a severe influenza epidemic struck (1910), Lucy set up tents to accommodate the many local people who fell ill and sought her help.

Three years after the opening of the Hawker Hospital (1928), as the Gables had become, 72yo Lucy recorded her last patient. Over 30 years, she helped deliver between 400-500 babies.

Mary Bryant

Born in Cornwall England, Mary was the daughter of a family well-known for sheep-stealing. Mary was a wilful and adventurous young lass which led to her being sentanced to transportation to Australia (1786) for stealing. Mary arrived in Australia with the First Fleet (1788).

It was whilst serving her sentance that Mary rebelled against the harshness of the existence in the colony and the feeling of virtual banishment - she planned her escape. Mary organised provisions and muskets (guns); from a Dutch Captain, Mary obtained nautical equipment. With her husband and two children and companions, Mary made off with the Governor's cutter (ship).

The group travelled 5000 kilometers through the then unknown Barrier Reef and reached Timor. At first they were accepted as shipwreck survivors, however, the Dutch on Timor proved them to be otherwise. Mary and her family were transferred to Batavia - Mary's husband and son died here. Mary was sent back to England for trial, but on the voyage her daughter died.

Through the influence of the newspapers in England, the mandatory death sentance for escaped convicts was quashed. The writer James Boswell sponsored Mary anonymously. Mary returned to her native Cornwall and remarried, fading into obscurity.

Lucy Osborn (1835 - 1891)

Lucy Osborn was the daughter of an Egyptologist. She was born in London, and as a young woman was said to be well educated and the "mistress of several languages". Lucy's main interest was in nursing. Against her family's wishes, Lucy attended the Florence Nightingale Training School attached to St Thomas' Hospital (1866), serving in both the men's and women's surgical, medical and accident wards.

When Henry Parkes, New South Wales politician (pre-Federation), was concerned about the state of the Sydney Infirmary and Dispensary, he appealed for help to Florence Nightingale for trained nurses. Lucy was sent out as Lady Superintendant of the Infirmary and was accompanied by 5 other trained nurses (1868). Lucy won Parkes' trust completely and threw herself into the almost impossible task of cleaning up the crumbling, foul smelling and vermin infested Infirmary. Lucy met with opposition from doctors and the Board, and was often lonely and dispiritid, but she stuck to her task. Lucy was continually obstructed by the surgeons and personally attacked in the Parliament (1868-1870).

A royal commission (1873) on public charities condemned the Sydney Infirmary, accusing the management committee of neglect and interfering in the duties of the nurses - Lucy was vindicated and the commission praised her work toward the improvement in the standards of nursing. So after six years, she had partially succeeded in her task and improvements were slowly coming about (1874).

Lucy retired from nursing (1878) and four years later (1880) the Infirmary's name was changed to the Sydney Hospital - Lucy had achieved her objectives. She returned to London, England, where she died (1891).

Mary Reiby (1777 - 1855)

Pioneering Businesswoman

Originally from Bury, Lancashire, England, Mary Reibey was convicted of horse-stealing and sentenced to 7 years transportation at the age of 13yo. She arrived in Sydney Australia on the "Royal Admiral" (1792) and was assigned as a nursemaid in the household of Major Francis Grose.

Mary married Thomas Reibey (Sept 1794), a young Irishman in the service of the East India Company. The first years of married life were spent farming on the Hawkesbury River. Reibey then extended his activities to grain transport and importing general merchandise, naming his establishment in Macquarie Place - Entally House - after a suburb in Calcutta.

On the death of both her husband and his partner Edward Wills, Mary was left with 7 children and complete control of numerous businesses. She was a hotel-keeper and already experienced in assisting her husband when he was absent on voyages. Mary soon became prosperous, and gradually rose to respectability and affluence. She soon became a favourite of Governor Macquarie.

Gradually retiring from active business, Mary began to take an active interest in the church, education and charity. She was appointed (1825) on of the governors of the Free Grammar School. Her three sons followed their parents' lead and established mercantile and shipping ventures in Tasmania, and her grandson was archdeacon of Launceston and Premier of Tasmania.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Confederate Girlhoods: A Women's History of Early Springfield

For the most part, history is written by men and about men. So, it was refreshing and enlightening for me to participate in a roundtable discussion at the Carnegie Midtown Library of a new book about a history of Springfield written from the perspective of women.

The book, "Confederate Girlhoods: A Women's History of Early Springfield," Missouri, was published by Moon City Press, part of the English Department at Missouri State University. It brings together in one volume many of the letters, memoirs, family histories, stories, journals, photographs and newspaper clippings in the Campbell-McCammon Collection at The History Museum for Springfield-Greene County.

The Campbell-McCammon women reveal their "struggles, disappointments, joys, courage, determination, and sorrow," writes Greene County Associate Commissioner Roseann Bentley in her foreword to the book. At a time when about the only things available to women were teaching, marriage, and writing the women stood resolutely for temperance, preservation of historical places, education, business opportunities, dignity and honor for the dead, entrepreneurship and improving the lives of women.

Remembering the "Women of Steel"

From BBC News:
"It was dirty, it was noisy and it was jolly hard work."

That is Kathleen Roberts's view of life as one of the Women of Steel in Sheffield in World War II.

They were conscripted to work in the steel works to keep production going when the men went off to war.

Their efforts were finally recognised by the government at the start of 2010 and now researchers are recording their personal accounts of life in the factories for an oral history project.

The project is part of a module for English students at the University of Sheffield, called Storying Sheffield.

Students work with members of the local community to collect, record and produce stories about their lives in Sheffield.

Three of the Women of Steel met with five students from the University's School of English in December 2010 to record their memories to create permanent digital artefacts.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fashion & Feathers

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Florida’s wading birds were being slaughtered by the millions to adorn fashionable women’s hats.

The rise and fall of the plume trade and Palm Beach County’s participation in it are the subjects of “Feather Wars: Surviving Fashion 1870-1920” at The Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum in West Palm Beach.

The tale is illustrated with archival photographs, stuffed birds, plumed hats, guns, millinery ads and memorabilia of Theodore Roosevelt, whose conservation initiatives contributed to the demise of the trade.

Florida was one of the last great frontiers of plume hunting, because the state was settled later than most parts of the country. Plume hunters quickly made up for lost time.

Although legislation diminished the plume trade, it took war and the country’s love affair with the car to eliminate it. World War I disrupted shipping and quelled women’s interest in fancy hats. Cars did their part by not being scaled to accommodate oversized headgear.

Ida Craddock - Ahead of her times

Further to my post:  "Heaven's Bride - The Unprintable Life of Ida Craddock" comes this article on Ida Craddock from
In today’s America, sex and religion are often seen in opposition to each other, and there’s a long history of that battle, from the Puritans to the Protestant establishment’s investment in antiobscenity laws. But for some on the vanguard of the progressive era, freedom meant mingling of sexual and spiritual expression. Ida C. Craddock, writer, lecturer, sometime pastor and counselor, was among what her biographer calls “an advanced band of troublemaking inquirers,” a freethinker who “imagined a sexual revolution in specifically sacred terms.” Her work and life are barely known today, but in this brilliant new book by Leigh Eric Schmidt, a professor of the history of religion at Harvard, modern readers may find themselves not only captivated by a fascinating character but also intrigued by ideas considered obscene and blasphemous in their time.

The Parramatta Female Factory

From the Parramatta Sun:
Local MPs and Parramatta Heritage Centre members are furious that work has begun to turn one of Australia’s most important buildings into an IT centre.

The Parramatta Female Factory, now part of Cumberland Hospital, is the oldest surviving female convict structure in Australia.

To Parramatta Heritage Centre curator Gay Hendriksen it is an irreplaceable piece of women’s history.

Parramatta Federal MP Julie Owens called it ‘‘incredibly important’’ and said to not preserve it would devalue women’s contribution to Australia.

But when The Sun visited the site last Monday work had already begun on the third-class sleeping quarters building despite assurances that the renovations had not yet been approved.

Egyptian Film: 678

No film in Egypt's recent history has attempted the task of addressing the problem of sexual harassment with as much dedication as 678. Despite the daunting nature of such an ambition, Mohamed Diab's film, for the most part, succeeds in tackling the plethora of challenges that comes with such a monumental task.

According to a survey conducted by the Centre for Women's Rights (ECWR) in 2008, 98 per cent of foreign-born women and 83 per cent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment. 62 per cent of Egyptian men admitted harassing women and 53 per cent of those blame women for instigating this kind of behaviour.

How the Victorians Invented the Traditional Christmas

From Wales Online comes this article on the tradition of Christmas as we know it today:
EBENEZER Scrooge was Welsh. Before moving to London in the late 1830s, he lived in a little village just outside Bangor. The historical evidence for this frankly implausible claim comes in the shape of a letter that appeared in the North Wales Chronicle in December 1835. In the letter, Scrooge – or at least someone very like him – complained bitterly about the festive spirit that had apparently possessed all about him. Everybody the correspondent met, from his servant to strangers in the street, wished him a “Merry Christmas”. What, he wanted to know, was there to be merry about?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

St Ismeria - More on the Legend

The story of Ismeria was discovered by Catherine Lawless, a history lecturer at Ireland's University of Limerick, in two manuscripts from 14th- and 15th-century Florence, Italy. But while it's tempting to believe that these recently unearthed papers shed new light on the Virgin Mary's family, Lawless told AOL News that, just like "The Da Vinci Code," the tale is almost certainly a work of fiction.

There is no biblical-era evidence to support the manuscripts' assertion that Ismeria was the mother of St. Anne, who later gave birth to Mary. (Other medieval sources suggest Ismeria may have been Anne's sister). Instead, Lawless suspects that the story may have been created by a religious order as a "morality tale" intended to teach Florentine women how to be good wives, and later, widows.

Being Frank With Anne

Just like to share a fascinating website from author & poet Phyllis Johnson.
Phyllis is the author of a book of poetry entitled "Being Frank With Anne" - it is poetry inspired by the life and legend of Anne Frank. 

To find out more about Phyllis and her work, please visit:

Here is a little snippet:

Burnt peas in
anxiety soup.
Strips for curtains
and stripes of sunlight.
no coughs
and no exits in sight.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Edith Cavell by Diane Souhami

Review in the Financial Times:
The British nurse Edith Cavell worked as part of a Belgian resistance network during the first world war, operating from the training school she had been recruited to set up in Brussels in 1907. The Germans had turned her school into a Red Cross hospital, where she and her nurses treated German soldiers as well as French, Belgian and British. Cavell was asked to help injured British soldiers by resistance leaders who were members of the Belgian aristocracy. She hid soldiers in the hospital, and provided false papers, guides and safe houses en route to Holland.

The school, however, came under increasing scrutiny and suspicion until Cavell and several of her colleagues were arrested. She was tricked into making a false confession; a hasty trial followed, conducted in German, culminating in the death sentence. A series of diplomatic blunders and a lethargic response on the part of the US ambassador in Brussels were insufficient to divert proceedings and Cavell, along with her colleague Philippe Baucq, were executed at dawn on October 12 1915 at the national rifle range outside Brussels.

Kazumi Inamura: Japan's Youngest Female Mayor

Kazumi Inamura saw her husband off to the construction materials company he runs Monday morning, and took their 5-year-old daughter to nursery school. She then bicycled to work, her first commute as the youngest female mayor in the history of this country.

Just 38 years old, Inamura was elected mayor of Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, in November.

Describing herself as a "mom mayor," she said she wants to "fully utilise my experiences as a housewife to improve our city's measures to help residents raise children and care for the elderly."

Inamura became a member of the Hyogo Prefectural Assembly in 2003, and was elected the nation's youngest ever female mayor on Nov 21.

The previous record was held by Kaori Ito, the current mayor of Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, who took up her post in 2008 at the age of 41.

Korea: Song Myung-soon - Interview

From Arirang:
The South Korean army named its first female combatant general in the 60 years of its history. Army Colonel Song Myung-soon, who was promoted to brigadier general, said her promotion means the country recognizes the important role of female soldiers.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Heaven’s Bride: The Unprintable Life of Ida C. Craddock

From Killing the Buddha, comes this interesting article "The Sexologist's Secret":
In Heaven’s Bride: The Unprintable Life of Ida C. Craddock, American Mystic, Scholar, Sexologist, Martyr and Madwoman, Leigh Eric Schmidt gives us a story of high tragedy and heart-breaking ridiculousness, set at the crossroads of religion and sexuality in late Victorian America.

Born in 1857 in Philadelphia and raised in comfortable circumstances by her widowed mother, Craddock was a precocious student—by the time she finished high school she had a working knowledge of Greek, Latin, French, German, and Italian. She hoped to become the University of Pennsylvania’s first female matriculant, but after passing its entrance exams with flying colors—“four days of written examinations on ancient and modern geography, mathematics, English grammar and composition, Latin grammar and hexameter verse, and Greek grammar and prose composition … followed by a fifth day for an oral examination on Cicero’s orations and Horace’s odes”—she was rejected by the board of trustees three times, even after Susan B. Anthony took up her cause. Instead of the important academic career she’d dreamed of, she taught stenography at Girard College, a charity school for orphans. (She would publish two textbooks on the subject, Primary Phonography: An Introduction to Isaac Pitman’s System of Phonetic Shorthand and Intermediate or Full Phonography.)

Henri IV of France Identified

The skeletons of kings and queens lying in mass graves in the Royal Basilica of Saint-Denis in Paris could finally have the solemn funeral ceremonies they deserve, say experts in the Christmas issue published in the British Medical Journal.

Many of the graves in the Royal Basilica were destroyed by revolutionaries in 1793 and very few remains of the mummified bodies have been preserved and identified.

Dr Philippe Charlier led the scientific breakthrough that has identified the head of the French King, Henri IV.

A team of scientists from different fields of expertise including anthropology, pathology, forensic medicine and genetic studies worked together to make the identification.

Henri IV was known as the "green gallant" because of his attractiveness to women or "good King Henry" because of his popularity amongst his people.

Despite his popularity, Henri IV was assassinated in Paris at the age of 57 on 14 May 1610 by Francois Ravaillac, a fanatical Catholic. Along with the bodies of other French kings and queens, his remains lay in the graves of the Basilica of Saint-Denis, before the graves were desecrated and the corpses mutilated in the wake of the French Revolution.

The authors conclude that "similar methods could be used to identify all the other kings' and queens' skeletons lying in the mass grave of the basilica, so that they can be returned to their original tombs."

See also this post from BBC News

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Mona Lisa Theory

An Italian researcher has sparked new controversy over the world's most famous painting by claiming Leonardo da Vinci painted tiny letters into the eyes of the Mona Lisa which may finally reveal the disputed identity of his model.

To arrive at a theory worthy of The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown's 2003 bestseller, researcher Silvano Vinceti avoided the Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile and instead gazed deep into her eyes with the help of high-resolution images.

"Invisible to the naked eye and painted in black on green-brown are the letters LV in her right pupil, obviously Leonardo's initials, but it is what is in her left pupil that is far more interesting," said Vinceti, the chairman of the Italian national committee for cultural heritage.

Vinceti said that the letters B or S, or possibly the initials CE, were discernible, a vital clue to identifying the model who sat for the Renaissance artist. She has often been named as Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine merchant, but Vinceti disagreed, claiming Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa in Milan. He said he would announce his conclusions next month.

Bone Key To Earhart Mystery

From AOL News:
See also Discovery News article - Amelia Earhart's Finger Bone Recovered?

A tiny piece of bone could unlock the mystery of what happened to Amelia Earhart, the pilot who vanished somewhere over the Pacific Ocean 73 years ago.

The fragment, believed to be from a human finger, was found on Nikumaroro, an uninhabited island in the southwest Pacific, Discovery News reported.

Researchers investigating Earhart's disappearance found the fragment of bone in June 2009 along with pieces of a pocketknife, prewar American bottles and makeup from a woman's compact.

At first they thought the bone was from a turtle. Further investigation showed it could very well be human.

"After 22 years of rigorous research and 10 grueling expeditions, we can say that all of the evidence we have found on Nikumaroro is consistent with the hypothesis that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, landed and eventually died there as castaways," Ric Gillespie, executive director of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, told Discovery.

Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic solo and became an icon of the active woman. In 1937, she embarked on an attempt to fly around the globe.

See my post from August 2009 - Amelia Earhart - Found??

Boxing's Most Celebrated: Hattie Leslie

More than a century ago, when the Police Gazette was the Sports Illustrated of its time, that title belonged to Mrs. Hattie Leslie, the first publicly recognized women's boxing champion, whose reign and life ended at age 23 in a Milwaukee hotel room.
Hattie won her championship in a match against Alice Leary on Sept. 16, 1888. The bout was held covertly in a barn near Buffalo, N.Y., Leslie's hometown, for the American women's title and a purse of $250.
What the New York Times decried as a "disgraceful prize fight" lasted seven rounds, or about one-half hour.about one-half hour. The almost 5-foot-8, 175-pound Leslie had 20 pounds on Leary, and battered her until the latter's corner threw in the towel to end it.

Over the next four years, Mrs. Leslie -- admiringly described in the Gazette as "the "famous Amazon who has made quite a name and gained considerable reputation as a boxer" and "a tall, powerful specimen of humanity" -- had a standing challenge out to defend her title against all comers. But since female boxers were only slightly more plentiful at the time than one-legged clog dancers, Hattie spent most of her time demonstrating her ring skills on the vaudeville circuit instead of in real fights.

Details of the match: Alice Leary vs Hattie Leslie

Nara Princess Found

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a tomb here thought to have been the burial place of the granddaughter of Empress Saimei (594-661), the local board of education has announced.

The tomb was discovered during excavation work around the nearby Kengoshizuka tomb, which is thought to be the burial site of Saimei. According to the Asuka Village Board of Education, the newly discovered tomb was likely constructed at almost the same time as the Kengoshizuka tomb, in the latter half of the 7th century.

The newly found tomb is thought to be the resting place of Empress Saimei's granddaughter Princess Ota, which would match with the Nara-period historical document Nihon Shoki, which records Princess Ota as being buried in front of the Empress in 667.

Further news from Heritage of Japan regarding the discovery of the tomb of Empress Saimei:
An ancient tomb in Nara Prefecture has been effectively identified as that of Empress Saimei (594-661) and her daughter Princess Hashihito, based on its shape and descriptions in the Chronicles of Japan, archaeologists said Thursday.

The Kengoshizuka tomb, located in the village of Asuka, Nara, is octagon-shaped, which is peculiar to imperial tombs in the mid-seventh to early eighth centuries, the board of education of the village said.

Do And Die: The Chittagong Uprising 1930-34

Adapting a work of literature into a movie is an arduous task. Film-makers have always been fascinated by best-selling books for adaptation into feature films. Even in Hollywood, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Narnia and many more have been successfully adapted from novels by reputed names.

Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey is yet another book-to-movie adaptation by Ashutosh Gowariker (based on the book Do And Die: The Chittagong Uprising 1930-34 by Manini Chatterjee); and not the first time Gowariker has revisited the bygone era.

Set in 1930s British India, the movie tells the story of a revolution in the peaceful port of Chittagong. One night, five simultaneous attacks take place under a group of unsung heroes, including two determined young women and an idealistic leader (Surjya Sen), a teacher.

Kansas: First Female Firefighter Retires

Longtime fire Captain Lexie Engleman is retiring on her 60th birthday Saturday after serving almost 30 years with the department. Engleman joined the Lawrence fire department in 1981 and was one of the first female firefighters in the department’s history.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

St. Ismeria - Greatgrandmother of Jesus

From Sify News:

A historian has identified the great-grandmother of Jesus.

According to Florentine medieval manuscripts analyzed by a historian, the great-grandmother of Jesus was a woman named St. Ismeria.

St. Ismeria likely served as a role model for older women during the 14th and 15th centuries.

The legend of St. Ismeria sheds light on both the Biblical Virgin Mary's family and also on religious and cultural values of 14th-century Florence.

Lawless studied the St. Ismeria story, which she said has been "ignored by scholars," in two manuscripts: the 14th century "MS Panciatichiano 40" of Florence's National Central Library and the 15th century "MS 1052" of the Riccardiana Library, also in Florence.

"According to the legend, Ismeria is the daughter of Nabon of the people of Judea, and of the tribe of King David," wrote Lawless.

She married "Santo Liseo," who is described as "a patriarch of the people of God." The legend continues that the couple had a daughter named Anne who married Joachim. After 12 years, Liseo died. Relatives then left Ismeria penniless.

At The Dark End of the Street

From the Washington Post:
In the segregated American South, a white man could rape a black woman with little fear of legal or social recourse, and black women lived in a persistent state of apprehension. Rape was used as a weapon of terror in the subjugation of black women, their families and whole communities.

In "At the Dark End of the Street," Danielle L. McGuire writes that white men raped black women and girls "with alarming regularity and stunning uniformity," with some victims as young as 7. While some readers will rightly be stunned by that assertion, many African American women will recognize a commonly acknowledged danger.

But "At the Dark End of the Street" is a story of courage. The women did tell, again and again. Many went to police before they went to the hospital and were supported by families and friends who corroborated their stories, at great risk. White control of the justice system meant that relatively few men were ever arrested and many fewer were ever convicted. McGuire reports that between 1940 and 1965, only 10 Mississippi white men were convicted of raping black women and girls. Although rape was a capital offense in many Southern states, no white man was ever executed for raping a black woman.

Historic Hospital Admission Records Project

From BBC News:
A fascinating and rare set of hospital records dating from Victorian times has been put online.

The records tell the stories of poor, sick children who were admitted to Glasgow Hospital for Sick Children from 1883 to 1903.

It is part of the Historic Hospital Admission Records Project being run by Kingston University in London.

The records give an insight into the common diseases and conditions of Victorian times.

Very few records from children's hospitals have survived from Victorian times.

Only two more sets are known to exist in the whole of Britain: for Edinburgh and Aberdeen hospitals.

Historians at Kingston University hope to digitise these remaining records in future.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Women of Faith in the Latter Days

From the Mormon Times:
Two LDS Church historians are on a quest to tell the world about the inspirational lives of Mormon women.

Richard E. Turley Jr., an assistant church historian and recorder, and Brittany A. Chapman, a historian in the Church History Library, are serving as the editors for a new series of books titled "Women of Faith in the Latter Days." Because half of the people in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been women, the purpose of the project is to bring to light their untold accounts of faith and dedication, both past and present.

Two LDS Church historians are on a quest to tell the world about the inspirational lives of Mormon women.

Richard E. Turley Jr., an assistant church historian and recorder, and Brittany A. Chapman, a historian in the Church History Library, are serving as the editors for a new series of books titled "Women of Faith in the Latter Days." Because half of the people in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been women, the purpose of the project is to bring to light their untold accounts of faith and dedication, both past and present.

Elizabethan Vizard Mask

From Arch News:
A Visard mask, was worn by gentlewomen in the 16th and possibly into the early 17th centuries. The mask was found during the renovation of an inner wall of a 16th century stone building.

The wall was approximately 4-foot thick, and the mask was found concealed within the inner hard core of the wall, which consisted of soil, straw and horse hair (for insulation). The mask was folded in half, lengthways, and placed within a small rectangular niche behind the face of the wall. Due to the conditions when found, the mask has an amount of soil and straw adhering to one half. The opposite half still has the velvet material in relatively good condition, but is in need of some conservation to prevent further damage.

Visard Mask, which covers the whole face, having holes for the eyes, a case for the nose, and a slit for the mouth, and to speak through; this kind of Mask is taken off and put in a moment of time, being only held in the Teeth by means of a round bead fastned on the inside over against the mouth.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Stephanie Dray and The Uncelebrated Life of Cleopatra Selene

Women of History is proud to welcome author Stephanie Dray who will give us a taste of her amazing new novel: The Uncelebrated Life of Cleopatra Selene.

Cleopatra’s daughter was born at the cusp of a religious awakening and came of age in a dangerous political world. When her parents lost their war with Rome and committed suicide, Selene, her twin Alexander Helios and their younger brother Ptolemy Philadelphus were all that remained of the Ptolemaic dynasty, so they were taken prisoner by the Romans.

Though she was only ten years old, Selene was marched as a chained prisoner through the streets of Rome. Prisoners were normally strangled or killed after a triumphal march, but Selene was an exception. The little orphaned princess and her brothers were spared by the emperor, then taken into the home of his sister to be indoctrinated with Roman values.

Such a policy of hostage-taking was fairly common in ancient times, so we might have expected Selene to fully embrace the Roman way in order to survive. Indeed, like her more famous mother, she forged important alliances with the Romans and charmed her way into power. It may even be argued that she did so more successfully; she certainly did so with less bloodshed. Though Selene came to Rome as a chained prisoner, she so impressed Augustus that he married her to Juba II of Mauretania, making her the most powerful client queen in the empire.

But Selene’s importance may have to do more with her religious influence than with her statecraft. Today, we take for granted the concept of personal spirituality or a relationship with god. In much of the ancient world, however, religion was a covenant between the state and the divine realm. Insofar as personal or household gods existed for the Romans, worship was more orthopraxy than orthodoxy. That is to say, the emphasis was more on correct ritual than on faith or intimate prayer. For the Romans especially, religion was more a matter for men than women.

All of this started to change with the rise of henotheistic mystery cults, and as a forerunner of Christianity, the Isiac religion was one of the few in the ancient world to concern itself with social justice. In challenging temporal authority, the spread of Isis worship nurtured a nascent concept of personal spirituality without  which our world might be very different today. And were it not for the influence of Cleopatra Selene—who fostered the Isiac faith in Mauretania while it was being suppressed in Rome—such a transition may never have taken hold.

Though she never returned to her mother’s Egypt, Selene would rule a mostly peaceful nation for at least twenty years, spreading the influence of Hellenism and Isis worship to Northwest Africa. She appears to have had complete autonomous powers of coinage, and often minted monies with depictions of her mother or her goddess.

The most remarkable thing we know about Selene, however, is the name of her son. At that time period, any child she had should have been named after its father’s line. But Selene clearly considered herself the true ruler of Mauretania and her own family line to be superior because she named her son Ptolemy and he would rule after her.

Indeed, some scholars have suggested that upon the ascension of Ptolemy to the throne, coins were issued to honor his mother, perhaps reminding the people of their popular queen and legitimizing his rule.

Stephanie is currently sponsoring the Cleopatra Literary Contest for Young Women, the deadline for which is March 1, 2011, but join her newsletter now for updates and a chance to win a free copy of Lily of the Nile and additional prizes.

About Stephanie:
Stephanie Dray is the author of a forthcoming trilogy of historical fiction novels set in the Augustan Age, starting with Lily of the Nile: A Novel of Cleopatra's Daughter. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has–to the consternation of her devoted husband–collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.  

You can follow Stephanie's Blog Tour

Sunday, December 5, 2010

National Day of Remembrance and Action in Violence Against Women in Canada

Dec. 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action in Violence Against Women in Canada.

This day coincides with the sad anniversary of the deaths of 14 women who were tragically killed in Montreal because of their gender.

None of the victims who went to class at L'Ecole Polytechnique could have guessed that they were a target.

That day, on a cold late December afternoon in 1989, a young man named Marc Lepine lashed out with a semi-automatic rifle.

As soon as he entered a classroom, he separated the women from the men, lined the women along the wall, and then killed them one by one.

In addition to killing 14 female engineering students, he injured eight other women, and also four men who tried to stop him.

Then, he killed himself.

This tragic event has come to be known as the Montreal Massacre.

A police investigation later revealed that Lepine was on a mission. In his pocket, they found a list of 15 other female targets in various professions.

In his eyes, they were all guilty of the same thing. They were all women who chose non-traditional careers and dared to be leaders in their fields.

Since then, over 170 women have died through acts of violence in Manitoba. It's these kinds of senseless acts that make places like Genesis House in Winkler so necessary.

Business Backlash to Parental Leave

From the Courier Mail:
WOMEN of child-bearing age are in the firing line as struggling small businesses baulk at the cost of implementing the Gillard Government's paid parental leave scheme.
Dozens of cases of pregnant women being bullied and unfairly sacked have already been lodged with authorities, fuelling fears of widespread discrimination once paid parental leave starts on January 1.

Business groups warn that the onerous cost of administering payments will force some employers to think again about hiring women.

Queensland's Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss David Goodwin said small businesses - already hurting from the financial downturn - could not absorb the costs of filling out ''welfare papers'' and changing payroll systems. Some small businesses ''probably'' won't hire women of child-bearing age.

Side Note: Whilst paid parental leave is a bonus to all women who plan on starting a family from 1st January 2011, there are many women out there who have done it hard. Older women - who have had their families - should take advantage of the situation. Where once age may have been a barrier to employment, for some women it may now be a blessing in disguise.