July in Women’s History

In July we celebrate essential democratic anniversaries — the birth of the United States on July 4, 1776 and the birth of the Women’s Rights Movement on July 19-20, 1848.

Anniversary of the First Women’s Rights Conference (July 19 and 20)
On July 19-20, 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott spearheaded the first women’s rights convention in American History. Over 300 women and men came to Seneca Falls, New York to protest the mistreatment of women in social, economic, political, and religious life. This marked the first public meeting calling for women’s right to vote.

July Women’s History Events
  • July 2, 1979 – The Susan B. Anthony dollar is released
  • July 2, 1937 – Amelia Earhart’s plane is lost in the Pacific Ocean near Howland Island Island.
  • July 2, 1964 – President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act; Title VII prohibits sex discrimination in employment
  • July 4, 1876 – Suffragists crash the Centennial Celebration in Independence Hall to present the Vice President with the “Declaration of the Rights of Women” written by Matilda Joselyn Gage * Read An Overt Act for Posterity: Suffragists and the Fourth of July on our blog.
  • July 6, 1957 – Althea Gibson is the first African American woman player to win a Wimbledon title in women’s tennis singles
  • July 7, 1981 – President Reagan nominates Sandra Day O’Connor as the first woman Supreme Court Justice
    July 12, 1984 – Representative Geraldine Ferraro (D-New York) is chosen as the
  • first female to run for Vice President of the United States on the Democratic Party ticket with Walter Mondale (D-Minnesota)
  • July 14, 1917 – 16 women from the National Women’s Party were arrested while picketing the White House demanding universal women’s suffrage; they were charged with obstructing traffic
  • July 19-20, 1848 – The Seneca Falls Convention, the country’s first women’s rights convention, is held in Seneca Falls, New York Women’s Rights and Women’s Equality Day Resources
  • July 20, 1942 – The first class of Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) begins at Fort Des Moines, IA
July Birthdays
  • July 1, 1895 (1997) – Lucy Howorth, suffragist, ardent feminist, attorney, only New Deal woman to hold a presidential appointment
  • July 1, 1904 (1998) – Mary Steichen Calderone, sex educator, Planned Parenthood medical director (1953), organized Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (1964)
  • July 1, 1915 (1979) – Jean Stafford, novelist, author of The Mountain Lion (1947), a poignant coming-of-age story about an adolescent boy
  • July 1, 1916 – Olivia de Havilland, last surviving principal member of the cast of “Gone With the Wind”
  • July 1, 1931 – Leslie Caron, lead actress in “Gigi” (1958) and “An American in Paris” (1951), wrote autobiography Thank Heaven
  • July 1, 1941 – Twyla Tharp, widely-honored founder of T T Dance Company, which expanded boundaries of ballet and modern dance
  • July 2, 1922 (1987) – Eleanor Leacock, anthropologist at City College of CUNY, found that the Innu of Labrador still had communal rights to hunting and distinct egalitarianism
  • July 3, 1908 (1992) – Mary Frances Kennedy (M.F.K.) Fisher, author of many books on culinary arts and 3 books of memoirs posthumously published
  • July 4, 1897 (1997) – Pilar Barbosa de Rosario, historian and teacher (1926-67), sought statehood for Puerto Rico as her father had before her.
  • July 4, 1918 (2013) – Pauline Esther Friedman; also known as Abigail Van Buren, was an American advice columnist and radio show host who began the “Dear Abby” column in 1956.
  • July 5, 1899 (1990) – Anna Hedgeman, YWCA administrator, encouraged the new National Organization for Women to work with issues affecting poor women (1967)
  • July 7, 1861 (1912) – Nettie Stevens, biologist, discovered X and Y sex chromosomes
  • July 7, 1908 (1986) – Harriette Simpson Arnow, writer, author of The Dollmaker (1954) for which Jane Fonda won an Emmy
  • July 7, 1915 (1998) – Margaret Walker, poet and novelist, a significant voice in African-American letters
  • July 8, 1902 (1981) – Gwendolyn Bennett, Harlem Renaissance poet, short story writer and artist
  • July 8, 1926 (2004) – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, writer and lecturer, developed techniques for counseling the dying and their families
  • July 10, 1875 (1955) – Mary McLeod Bethune, educator, founder of the National Council of Negro Women, served as Minority Affairs Advisor to Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • July 10, 1882 (1975) – Ima Hogg, Texas philanthropist, patron of the arts, supporter of mental health and child welfare organizations, and savior of many historic structures
  • July 10, 1891 (1982) – Edith Quimby, biophysicist, pioneer in the use of radionuclides in medicine and the development of standards for radiation protection
  • July 10, 1910 (1998) – Mary Bunting, feminist, president of Radcliffe (1960-70), gained women’s admission to Harvard’s graduate schools, first woman on Atomic Energy Commission where she questioned impact of atomic testing
  • July 10, 1933 (1989) – Jan DeGaetani, versatile mezzo-soprano and an outstanding teacher at the Aspen Music Festival and the Eastman School in Rochester
  • July 13, 1910 (1983) – Josefina Niggli, playwright, moved to North Carolina from Mexico after penning prize-winning short stories; wrote first novel, Mexican Village, in 1945 then television scripts including “The Twilight Zone”
  • July 14, 1911 (1998) – Gertrude Goldhaber, physicist, fled Hitler’s Germany with her husband, had to work without salary on beta particles at U. of Illinois, Urbana until 1950, produced what may have been the first mother-son scientific paper
  • July 14, 1916 (1988) – Muriel Snowden, civil rights worker, co-founded Freedom House (1949) to deal with Boston racial tensions, helped to desegregate public schools
  • July 15, 1899 (1990) – Estelle Ishigo, artist who joined her Nisei husband in Wyoming internment camp, published book of her pictures in 1972
  • July 15, 1923 (1995) – Connie Boucher, artist who created high quality coloring books for Winnie the Pooh and others in the 1960s, then merchandised Charles Schulz’s Peanuts and Snoopy and Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are
  • July 16, 1821 (1910) – Mary Baker Eddy, founded the Church of Christ, Scientist
  • July 16, 1862 (1931) – Ida B. Wells-Barnett, journalist, crusader against lynching
  • July 16, 1907 (1990) – Barbara Stanwyck, danced in the Ziegfield Follies in 1922, dramatic actress in movies (1930-62), highest paid woman in the United States in 1944
  • July 16, 1911 (1995) – Ginger Rogers, actress and dancer, made 9 movies with Fred Astaire (1933-39), won Academy Award for “Kitty Foyle” (1940)
  • July 17, 1898 (1991) – Berenice Abbott, photographer, artist, teacher, and writer, invented new concepts in portraiture, landscape and science photography
  • July 17, 1908 (1987) – Carmelita Maracci, dancer who debuted in 1926, inspired by Anna Pavlova, then taught Spanish techniques that thrilled audiences in 1939
  • July 18, 1892 (1980) – Doris Fleischman Bernays, partner in Council on Public Relations, first married woman to gain a passport in her own name and to insist her own name was on her daughter;s birth certificate
  • July 18, 1908 (1981) – Mildred Ryder, adopted name “Peace Pilgrim” in 1953 feeling uncomfortable about having so much when others did not, learned to live on $10 a week and walked more than 25,000 miles promoting peace and personal responsibility
  • July 19, 1902 (1983) – Anna Marie Rosenberg, emigrated from Hungary (1912), served as regional director of new Social Security Board until 1943
  • July 21, 1856 (1913) – Louise Bethune, first woman architect in 1881
  • July 21, 1905 (1996) – Diana Trilling, writer and author, many of her feminist essays are included in We Must March My Darlings (1977)
  • July 21, 1938 – Janet Reno, first woman to serve as U. S. Attorney General (under President Clinton)
  • July 22, 1849 (1887) – Emma Lazarus, poet, wrote “The New Colossus,” (1883), which was later inscribed on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”
  • July 22, 1898 (1976) – Miriam Underhill, climbed the Alps and the Matterhorn, led many all-women climbing groups in the 1950s
  • July 23, 1844 (1929) – Harriet Strong, agriculturist, patented water storage dams
  • July 23, 1892 (1984) – Icie Hoobler, chemist and nutrition scientist, led efforts at the Merrill-Palmer School Research Laboratory to improve nutrition of child-bearing women, infants and children
  • July 23, 1917 (1984) – Barbara Deming, influential nonviolent activist, writer and poet, marched for peace, civil rights, women’s rights and lesbian and gay rights, wrote We Cannot Live Without Our Lives (1974)
  • July 23, 1928 (1999) – Ruth Whitney, pro-choice, ground-breaking editor of “Glamour” magazine, first to feature an African-American on the cover, gave editorial support to Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings
  • July 24, 1920 (1998) – Bella Abzug, lawyer, political activist, New York Congressional Representative (1972-76), initiated proposal for Women’s Equality Day
  • July 24, 1897 (1937) Amelia Earhart noted aviation pioneer and author
  • July 27, 1891 (1980) – Myrtle Lawrence, co-founded biracial Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union, wrote at Black Mountain, North Carolina, with financial help from Vassar women, honored on the 1976 Bicentennial Freedom Train Exhibition
  • July 27, 1906 (1994) – Helen Wolff, narrowly fled Germany and occupied France, translated many classics as “A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book”, befriended and published new authors
  • July 28, 1879 (1966) – Lucy Burns, suffragist, formed National Woman’s Party with Alice Paul, picketed the White House for women suffrage and arrested 6 times
  • July 28, 1929 (1994) – Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, First Lady (1961-63), photographer and book editor, established White House Historical Association
  • July 29, 1896 (1986) – Maria Hernandez, midwife and activist who migrated from Mexico, demanded better schools, rights for Mexican Americans, and an hour of Spanish news on radio
  • July 29, 1903 (1989) – Diana Vreeland, legendary fashion icon, born in Paris, columnist then fashion editor of “Harper’s Bazaar” until 1962
  • July 29, 1905 (1994) – Mary Roebling, successful bank president, created innovative business practices, first woman elected to serve on American Stock Exchange (1957)
  • July 29, 1932 – Nancy Kassebaum Baker, Senator from Kansas (1979-96), supported Equal Rights Amendment, instrumental in creation of Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
  • July 29, 1936 – Elizabeth H. Dole, Senator from North Carolina (2002-08), also served as Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Transportation, and head of the American Red Cross
  • July 30. 1939 – Eleanor Smeal, women’s rights activist, publisher of Ms. Magazine for the Feminist Majority Foundation, president of National Organization for Women (1977-82 and 1985-87)
  • July 30, 1940 – Patricia Schroeder, Colorado Congressional Representative (1973-97), promoted Family and Medical Leave Act, later led the Association of American Publishers
  • July 31, 1879 (1978) – Margarete Bieber, emigrated from Germany, examined the history of Greek and Roman costumes and the art of Alexander the Great, named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at age 96
  • July 31, 1924 (2010) – Geraldine Hoff Doyle, model for the 1942 “We Can Do It” morale-raising poster for Westinghouse factory workers during World War II
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