women's history

Black Women Striving for Suffrage

The history of the women's movement for suffrage was written by white women and largely overshadows the African-American feminists who worked alongside them, battling not only gender inequity but also racism, disenfranchisement and segregation from mainstream suffrage organizations. Cristen and Caroline highlight Ida B. Wells and other black women integral to winning the vote for all American women.

33 Real-Life Rosie the Riveters

In December 1941, the United States entered World War II, and the U.S. government soon after launched the "Rosie the Riveter" propaganda campaign encouraging women to pitch in with the war effort. Before the war began, women already comprised a quarter of the American workforce and eventually overtook a third of U.S. jobs by 1945. During that period 3 million women worked at war plants as the real-life Rosie the Riveters, building aircraft bombers, tanks, guns and even American flags for military activities. The Library of Congress has preserved photographs of these power-tool-wielding, manual-laboring ladies of World War II in its archives. This gallery of women workers showcases the diversity of jobs they fulfilled, as well as some of the finer details of female life in massive midcentury factories.

The MAKERS of Comedy

Comedy hasn't always been an especially welcoming space for women. Cristen and Caroline highlight the hilarious female trailblazers who've been honored by MAKERS, an historic initiative that aims to be the largest and most dynamic collection of women's stories ever assembled.

25 Black Female Firsts

Celebrating a diversity of black female trailblazers who excelled in their respective fields, from STEM to the screen, and inspired generations afterward to follow in their footsteps.

10 Pioneering Female Pilots (Who Aren't Amelia Earhart)

When women first took to the skies in the early 1900s, popular opinion maintained that the female constitution was too panic-ridden and flighty for the aeronautical job. Nonetheless, a number of women -- in addition to the legendary Amelia Earhart -- defied gender- and race-based discrimination in pursuit of their passion for piloting planes.

Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets -- But Who's Lola?

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.

How the Telegraph Left Its Mark on Women's History

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...

The First Ladies of Motorcycling

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.

The Crossdressing Doctor Who Performed the First Successful Cesaraen Section

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.

See Jane (and Susan B. Anthony) Bike

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."