1860: Helen Clarke born (writer, editor, critic)

  • Born Helen Archibald Clarke on November 13, 1860, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; died of cardiac disease on February 8, 1926, in Boston, Massachusetts; daughter of Hugh Archibald Clarke (a professor of music) and Jane (Searle) Clarke; studied music as a special student at the University of Pennsylvania; never married; lived with Charlotte Endymion Porter; no children. Porter and Clarke are best known for Poet Lore, a journal they began together in Philadelphia in 1889. When they were offered office space in exchange for three pages of advertising in the journal, the pair moved Poet Lore to Boston. In 1903, Porter and Clarke sold Poet Lore, though they continued to edit the journal for some years afterward. Poet Lore is still published today, making it the oldest published poetry magazine in the United States. Porter and Clarke exchanged rings in a commitment ceremony and lived together until Clarke died at age 65. After her partner’s died, Porter then spent most of her time living at their summer home on the Isle au Haut in Penobscot Bay, Maine.


1974: Karen Silkwood died

  • Plutonium plant worker, advocate of workers’ rights, testified about health and safety violations. Her life and mysterious death became the subject of the 1984 movie Silkwood, with Meryl Streep playing the title role. Silkwood was an American chemical technician and labor union activist known for raising concerns about corporate practices related to health and safety of workers in a nuclear facility.
  • In the summer of 1974, she testified to the Atomic Energy Commission about her concerns. For three days in November, she was found to have high levels of contamination on her person and in her home. While driving to a meeting that month with David Burnham, a New York Times journalist, and Steve Wodka, an official of her union’s national office, she died in a car accident under mysterious circumstances.
  • Her family sued Kerr-McGee on behalf of her estate. In what was the longest trial up until then in Oklahoma history, the jury found Kerr-McGee liable for the plutonium contamination of Silkwood, and awarded substantial damages. These were reduced on appeal, but the case reached the United States Supreme Court in 1979, which upheld the damages verdict. Before another trial took place, Kerr-McGee settled with the estate out of court for US $1.38 million, while not admitting liability.

1938: Mother Francis Xavier Cabrini is beatified.

  • She is the first American woman citizen to become a saint. In New York City, she founded Columbus Hospital and Italian Hospital. In the 1980s, they were merged into Cabrini Hospital. This facility was closed in 2002. In Chicago, the Sisters opened Columbus Extension Hospital (later renamed Saint Cabrini Hospital) in the heart of the city’s Italian neighborhood on the Near West Side. Both hospitals eventually closed near the end of the 20th century. Their foundress’ name lives on via Chicago’s Cabrini Street. Mother Cabrini died of complications from dysentery at age 67 in Columbus Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, on December 22, 1917, while preparing Christmas candy for the local children. By that time, she had founded 67 missionary institutions to serve the sick and poor and train additional nuns to carry on the work. Her body was originally interred at Saint Cabrini Home, an orphanage she founded in West Park, Ulster County, New York.

Quote for Today

“Because man and woman are the complement of one another, we need woman’s thought in national affairs to make a safe and stable government.”

– Elizabeth Cady Stanton



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