Mary Cassatt

“I do not admit that a woman can draw like that,” said Degas when he saw one of her pictures

At eight o’clock on the evening of June 14, 1926, a very old woman—blind and suffering from advanced diabetes—died in her chateau on the edge of the tiny village of Mesnil-Theribus, some thirty miles northwest of Paris. At her funeral, because she held the Legion of Honor, there was a detail of soldiers, and because she was chatelaine of the manor house, the village band played and most of the townspeople followed her coffin to the cemetery. There was nothing extraordinary in this; it is a not uncommon ritual in the villages of France.Read more »

Humanity, Said Edgar Allan Poe, Is Divided Into Men, Women, And Margaret Fuller

Poe’s witticism was not meant kindly, but it was actually a compliment. Without doubt Margaret Fuller stood first among women of the nineteenth century. It is surprising that, as America’s first liberated female, she is not today first in the hearts of her countrywomen. The primary responsibility for this neglect lies with her intimate friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, who, under the guise of loving kindness, defeminized, distorted, and diminished the image of her that has come down to us. Read more »

A Mere Woman

A shy Yankee named Hannah Adams never thought of herself as liberated, but she was our first professional female writer.

If they should care to, the leaders of Women’s Liberation may add Miss Hannah Adams, born in 1755, to their roster of distinguished women. She was probably the first native American woman to earn a living as a professional writer. Read more »

Good Lord, Grandpa It All Came True

Ideas change. A thigh thought massive in 1970 was another era’s ideal, and the pinups presented here never failed to draw admiring looks from gentlemen of the 1890’s, along with a chuckle or two at the presumption of these career-minded girls. Read more »

The Working Ladies Of Lowell

Proud and independent, the farm girls of New England helped build an industrial Eden, but its paternalistic innocence was not to last

Dusk fell over the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts, a few minutes before five o’clock on January 10, 1860. In the five-story brick textile factory owned by the Pemberlon Manufacturing Company, lamps began to flicker in the ritual of “lighting-up time.” The big building—nearly three hundred feet long and eighty-five wide—rumbled unceasingly with the noise of its hundreds of machines for turning cotton into cloth: its scutchers and spreaders, carders, drawing frames and speeders; its warpers and dressers; and its power looms for weaving the finished fabric.

Pioneers In Petticoats

Legend says the frontier was “hell on women,” but the ladies claim they had the time of their lives

I once had a conversation about the ways of the West with a wise and literate old man who had been a cowpuncher in Montana in the golden days of Charlie Russell and Teddy Blue. John R. Barrows was the author of a book called Ubet , describing the adventures of his parents who ran a stage station rejoicing in that typically jaunty frontier name. They had gone west with a wagon train from Wisconsin in 1879, taking several small children.