Six little-known women from around the world – starting with a Russian-Jewish immigrant and ending with a French former chambermaid – who contributed to first-wave feminism in the United States.
Katharine Houghton Hepburn helped American women secure the vote and reproductive freedom. Her daughter was a four-time Oscar winner. Chances are, you know about the actress, but not the activist.
A major New York City airport is named in honor of her brother, but Gemma La Guardia Gluck’s story of surviving Ravensbrück concentration camp as the political prisoner of Adolf Eichmann unjustly exists in the shadows of history.
English author H.G. Wells envisioned a future of alien invasion and time travel. He dabbled in dystopian nightmares and conjured up mad scientists and invisible men. And, to the disgust of two of his feminist lovers, he imagined a utopia where “women are to be as free as men.”
Sweden’s history provides insight into how it has quietly established itself as one of the most gender equal countries in the world, while the United States continues to loudly squabble over legislation guaranteeing equal legal rights regardless of gender.
Matilda Joslyn Gage, who wrote about how cumulative advantage (a principle not named until a century later) erased women and their achievements from history, was herself erased from history because of cumulative advantage. The reason why You Don’t Know Matilda involves the Bible and science.
“The prisoners could be forgiven for looking with fear upon the buses that arrived at the concentration camps in the spring of 1945. Transports had brought them to places like Ravensbrück, Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau. Transports had taken their loved ones to horrific deaths. Despite the rumors of rescue, it seemed more likely to be a cruel Nazi ploy.”
Read more in “When Sweden Rescued 31,000 Non-Swedes From Nazi Germany“