Thursday, March 31, 2011

Famous Women in Hungarian History

From IEWY News:
When one lists the outstanding personalities of Hungarian history, one tends to think of crowned kings, valiant commanders, renowned statesmen and legendary champions of freedom –representing, almost exclusively, the stronger sex. Yet, many woman bolstered the fame of Hungary over the centuries.

Read on -> Famous Hungarian Women in History

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Houdini Assistant - Dorothy Young

Dorothy Young, the last surviving stage assistant of illusionist Harry Houdini and an accomplished dancer, has died. She was 103.

Young's death was announced Wednesday by Drew University, where she was a prominent donor and patron of the arts. Drew spokesman Dave Muha said Young died Sunday at her home in a Tinton Falls, N.J., retirement community.

Young joined Houdini's company as a teenager after attending an open casting call during a family trip to New York. During her year with Houdini's stage show in the mid-1920s, she played the role of "Radio Girl of 1950," emerging from a large mock-up of a radio and performing a dance routine.

Young went on to become a professional dancer, performing in several movies. She also published a novel inspired by her career.

Remembering The Triangle Fire

It was a warm spring Saturday when dozens of immigrant girls and women leapt to their deaths — some with their clothes on fire, some holding hands — as horrified onlookers watched the Triangle Shirtwaist factory burn.

The March 25, 1911, fire that killed 146 workers became a touchstone for the organized labor movement, spurred laws that required fire drills and shed light on the lives of young immigrant workers near the turn of the century.

The 100th anniversary comes as public workers in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere protest efforts to limit collective bargaining rights in response to state budget woes. Labor leaders and others say one need only look to the Triangle fire to see why unions are crucial.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor - Legend Lost

The star of "Cleopatra" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles surrounded
by family after a long battle with congestive heart failure that sent her to the hospital six weeks ago.

In a career spanning seven decades, Taylor first gained fame in 1944's "National Velvet" at age 12 and was nominated for five Oscars. She won the best actress award for "Butterfield 8" (1960) and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966) with actor Richard Burton, whom she would marry twice.

Taylor's eight marriages, health problems, prescription drug addiction and ballooning weight often overshadowed her career, but she overcame adversity and used her fame to advocate for causes such as AIDS education and research.

Her death triggered an outpouring of tributes from Hollywood luminaries like Barbra Streisand, recording stars such as Elton John and politicians including former president Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Egyptian Queen Has Wart

King Tut's grandmother, the powerful and beautiful Queen Tiye, might have had an unattractive flat wart on her forehead, according to a mummy expert.

Located between the eyes, the small protuberance was found on the mummy of the so-called Elder Lady (KV35EL). Boasting long reddish hair falling across her shoulders, the mummy was identified in February 2010 by DNA testing as Queen Tiye, the daughter of Yuya and Thuya, wife of Amenhotep III, and mother of Akhenaten.

The skin growth had gone unnoticed until Mercedes González, director of the Instituto de Estudios Científicos en Momias in Madrid, spotted it looking at the mummy during a visit to the Cairo Museum.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Haneen Zoab: Palestinian Voice In Israel

From Xinhuanet:

"Every woman can be a woman of frustration. I'm not optimistic. I'm not pessimistic. I'm just struggling," said Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian female legislator in the Israeli parliament, Knesset.

Zoabi has made a history in Israel as the first woman to be elected in the Knesset on an Arab Party's list. At her 41, she has been representing the Arab National Democratic Party in the parliament since 2009.

Sitting in her office in Nazareth, viewed by the Palestinian Arabs in Israel as their effective capital, Zoabi argues in an interview with Xinhua that her real task is to advance the cause of ending Israel's occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a cause for both Palestinian men and women.

Matadora: Lupita Lopez

From NPR:
Last Sunday, a 32-year-old bullfighter named Lupita Lopez appeared in Mexico City's Plaza Mexico — the largest bullring in the world — and was inducted into the tiny sorority of matadoras, or professional female bullfighters. Lopez, 32, has wanted to be a bullfighter since she was 11.

Growing up in the city of Merida, on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, Lopez decided she wanted to be a bullfighter when she was 11. During her long apprenticeship, she faced the challenges of a young woman entering the quintessentially male domain of bulls.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Joan of Arc - Another Theory

I have shamelessly poached this topic from a history forum, which posed the question back in 2006 - was Joan of Arc really a man.  Now, the thinking behind this was related to a medical condition known as "testicular feminization syndrome" or "complete androgen insensitivity syndrome".

From the website: "The complete androgen insensitivity syndrome is usually detected at puberty when a girl should but does not begin to menstruate. Many of the girls with the syndrome have no pubic or axillary (armpit) hair. They have luxuriant scalp hair without temporal (male-pattern) balding. They are sterile and cannot bear children."

What do we know of Joan that might fall into the above catergory.
1. There was no obvious signs of menstration.
2. She bore no children - child bearing would have been common for a girl of her age - and engaged in no known sexual activity.
3. Despite the saintly modern day depictions, Joan was, by nature of her ancestry, considered to have been short, dark complexioned and swarthy - almost masculine in appearance.
4. Yes she did undergo an "inspection" to ascertain that she was still "virgo intacta" - but would those women who examined her have been at all familiar with a medical condition in which a male took upon, to all intents and purposes, female form.  And quite frankly, no man would have undertaken such an intimate examination of a woman.
5. The Duke of Alencon, in his later reflections on Joan, was said to have remarked "... it was if she had known how to be a man-at-armss following the wars since her youth.."  And the Burgundian Chronicler Georges Chastellain also commented on her manly skills.

So, just as there is the mystery of Pope Joan - could we have the mystery of John of Arc??

American WASPS

From Utah News:
Within months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the U.S. Army Air Force, faced with an acute shortage of male pilots, decided to use women in domestic aviation to relieve their male counterparts for combat.

This was a first for the military. They knew little about women’s adaptability, attitudes, strength or psychological bearings. So they turned to world-renowned pilot Jacqueline Cochran, who created in-country ferrying and training programs including aerial navigation, target towing, assimilated bombing missions and conveyance.

Cochran had broken international speed and altitude records. President of the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women pilots, she was a member of the Wings for Britain, delivered military aircraft from America to England and became the first woman to pilot a bomber across the North Atlantic.

Actively recruited, 25,000 young women stepped forward to volunteer, and about 1,800 were accepted into the program. Learning to fly “the Army way,” 1,074 graduated into the Women Air Force Service Pilots, or WASPS.

Japan: Wives Final Revolt

For centuries in this male-dominated society, women have been guided by the concept of ie, or household, in which wives are bound to their in-laws for life - and beyond.

Formally abolished at the end of World War II, the system has hung on in many parts of Japan. Yet quality-of-life changes here, including climbing divorce rates, higher education levels and increased geographic and social mobility among women, mean many are now thumbing their nose at a tradition that often forces a lifelong divorce from their own families.

"Women are rebelling against the idea of being buried for eternity with people they didn't even like that much in life. They see it as a form of eternal torture," said Yoriko Meguro, a sociologist at Tokyo's Sophia University and former Japanese representative to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. "The refusal to be buried in the husband's ancestral plot is the last stand against traditional family confinement."

At Aoyama cemetery, one of Tokyo's largest public burial grounds, new sections are reserved for people who want to be buried alone or with a spouse, unconnected to larger family sites.

Activists say the burial requirement is one of many outdated responsibilities women are forced to shoulder within the Japanese family structure. Many must perform duties such as caring for their in-laws.

Some of those traditions are also being challenged. In February, six women filed a lawsuit fighting a 113-year-old civil law that precludes brides from keeping their surnames when they marry, insisting that the law violates their right to equality.

Burial of Peruvian Woman

She was a woman who died some 1,600 years ago in the heyday of the Moche culture, well before the rise of the Incas. Her imposing tomb suggests someone of high status. Her desiccated remains are covered with red pigment and bear tattoos of patterns and mythological figures.

But the most striking aspect of the discovery, archaeologists said yesterday, is not the offerings of gold and semiprecious stones, or the elaborate wrapping of her body in fine textiles, but the other grave goods.

She was surrounded by weaving materials and needles, befitting a woman, and 2 ceremonial war clubs and 28 spear throwers — sticks that propel spears with far greater force — items never found before in the burial of a woman of the Moche (pronounced MOH-chay).

Was she a warrior princess, or perhaps a ruler? Possibly.

Agatha Christie - Secret Life As An Archaeologist

From CNN:
She is one of the best-known crime writers of all time but few know the extent of Agatha Christie's archaeological pedigree.

Married in 1930 to eminent archaeologist Max Mallowan, Christie spent two decades living on excavation sites in the Middle East, writing her crime novels and helping out with her husband's work.

Travel by boat and on the Orient Express to far-flung places such as Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad inspired some of Christie's best-known works of detective fiction, including "Murder on the Orient Express," "Death on the Nile," and "Murder in Mesopotamia."

Now, 3,000-year-old ivory artifacts recovered by Mallowan between 1949 and 1963 from the ancient city of Nimrud, in what is now Iraq, and likely cleaned by his famous wife using cotton wool buds and face cream, go on display Monday at the British Museum in London.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Photos from the personal albums of Eva Braun

From CNN: has obtained a set of newly released photos from the personal albums of Eva Braun, Adolf Hitler's longtime girlfriend and, in their final hours, wife.

The photos "reveal new dimensions" of the woman who married Hitler as the Russian army closed in on his Berlin bunker and then committed suicide with him a day later. He was 56. She was 33.

The 30 photos cover almost all of Braun's life, from images of her as a toddler and schoolgirl to her spending time with Hitler at his mountaintop retreat in the Alps.

Among the most interesting images are those of Braun posing seemingly naked behind an umbrella and her made up as American actor Al Jolson in his role in "The Jazz Singer."

The photos come from "a cache of images confiscated by the U.S. Army in 1945 and brought to light by collector and curator Reinhard Schulz," reports.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Online: 17th Century Witch Chronicle

A 350-year-old notebook which documents the trials of women convicted of witchcraft in England during the 17th century has been published online.

The notebook written by Nehemiah Wallington, an English Puritan, recounts the fate of women accused of having relationships with the devil at a time when England was embroiled in a bitter civil war.

The document reveals the details of a witchcraft trial held in Chelmsford in July 1645, when more than a hundred suspected witches were serving time in Essex and Suffolk according to his account.

"Divers (many) of them voluntarily and without any forcing or compulsion freely declare that they have made a covenant with the Devill," he wrote.

"Som Christians have been killed by their meanes," he added.

Of the 30 women on trial in Chelmsford, 14 were hanged.

Wallington also recounts the experiences of Rebecca West, a suspected witch who confessed to sleeping with the devil when she was tortured because "she found her selfe in such extremity of torture and amazement that she would not enure (endure) it againe for the world." Her confession spared her.

Carol Burrows, who managed the notebook's digitization, on Thursday told Reuters that Wallington's journal was important because of its connections to the civil war.

View the Notebook here: http:/

Friday, March 4, 2011

Timeline of Women In History

From the Vancouver Sun:
1639: The Ursuline Nuns establish a school for girls in Quebec.

1663: 775 French orphan girls and young women are sent to New France under the banner "Filles du Roi" to marry settlers.

1737: Marguerite d'Youville founds the Grey Nuns order in Montreal.

1783: Mohawk Molly Brant was given a house in (now) Kingston, Ontario and pension by the British government for service and loyalty to the Crown during the American Revolution.

Read more: Vancouver Sun

Gaston Hospice: A Story of War Brides

She left France 65 years ago, a war bride with a baby boy.

Speaking no English, with little money and only the clothes on her back, she found bad news waiting in the U.S.: Her GI husband wanted her to go home and leave the infant behind.

Even though the soldier offered to pay for the trip, Josette Laney, then 23, knew there would be more opportunity in America.

In Gaston County, where her husband was from, she built a new life as a single parent. She worked in textiles and raised her son, Jim. They supported each other, and she helped put him through college.

At 88, Laney recently came under the care of Gaston Hospice, where staff heard about her experiences.

Officials with the nonprofit - celebrating its 30th anniversary this year - put Laney's story on the front of its winter newsletter. As the face of hospice, she helps call attention to the soon-expanding program.
According to the World War II War Brides Association, about 65,000 women married American soldiers and sailors; 7,000 came from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

DNA Inconclusive In Search For Amelia Earhart

From CNN:
The fate of famed aviator Amelia Earhart remains a mystery after DNA tests on one of three bone fragments discovered on a Pacific island proved inconclusive.

Cecil M. Lewis Jr. of the University of Oklahoma's Molecular Anthropology Laboratories reported "the question of whether the bone is human must remain unanswered" until new technologies may make a determination possible.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) asked Lewis to test the bones found in 2010 on Nikumaroro, formerly Gardner Island. The bone tested by Lewis may be from Earhart's finger, the group says.

Earhart disappeared near the island in 1937 while flying around the world with navigator Fred Noonan. She was later declared dead.

"You learn patience," TIGHAR executive director Ric Gillespie said Wednesday night about the findings. "The door is still open for it to be a human finger bone."

According to Gillespie, a British officer found 13 bones, including a skull, of a likely castaway on the island in 1940 and sent them to Fiji. The officer also reported finding the remains of a woman's shoe and a man's shoe.

Lost Diary of Queen Victoria's Final Companion

'I am so very fond of him. He is so good and gentle and understanding… and is a real comfort to me.”

These were the words of Queen Victoria speaking to her daughter-in-law, Louise, Duchess of Connaught, on November 3, 1888, at Balmoral. Perhaps surprising, though, is who she was talking about – not her beloved husband, Albert, who had died in 1861. Nor John Brown, her loyal Scottish ghillie, who in many ways filled the void left by Albert, since Brown had died in 1883.

Instead, Queen Victoria was referring to Abdul Karim, her 24-year-old Indian servant.

Her relationship with Karim was one that sent shockwaves through the royal court – and ended up being one of the most scandalous periods of her 64-year reign.

Indeed, such was the ill-feeling that when Victoria died, her son King Edward ordered all records of their relationship, including correspondence and photographs, to be destroyed.

Farewell to Hollywood Legend Jane Russell

From BBC News:
Former Hollywood actress and sex symbol Jane Russell has died at the age of 89.

The brunette was discovered by eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, who cast her in his 1943 Western The Outlaw.

Some of her most memorable films include the The Paleface (1948) with Bob Hope, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) with Marilyn Monroe.

She died on Monday at her home in California of a respiratory-related illness, her daughter-in-law confirmed.