1889 – Journalist Elizabeth Cochran, aka Nellie Bly

  • Cochran sails around the world in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds, beating the fictional record set by Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days. Nellie Bly was the pen name of American pioneer female journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochrane. She remains notable for two feats: a record-breaking trip around the world in emulation of Jules Verne’s character Phileas Fogg, and an exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within. In addition to her writing, she was also an industrialist and charity worker.
  • An aggressively misogynistic column in the Pittsburgh Dispatch prompted her to write a fiery rebuttal to the editor with the pen name “Lonely Orphan Girl.” The editor was so impressed with Bly’s earnestness and spirit that he asked the man who wrote the letter to join the paper. When he learned the man was Bly, he refused to give her the job, but she was a good talker and persuaded him. She originally intended for her pseudonym to be “Nelly Bly,” but her editor wrote “Nellie” by mistake, and the error stuck.
  • As a writer, Bly focused her early work for the Dispatch on the plight of working women, writing a series of investigative articles on female factory workers.
  • Burdened again with theater and arts reporting, Bly left the Pittsburgh Dispatch in 1887 for New York City. Penniless after four months, she talked her way into the offices of Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper, the New York World, and took an undercover assignment for which she agreed to feign insanity to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. Her report, later published in book form as Ten Days in a Mad-House, caused a sensation and brought her lasting fame. While embarrassed physicians and staff fumbled to explain how so many professionals had been fooled, a grand jury launched its own investigation into conditions at the asylum,inviting Bly to assist.

1896 – Mamie Eisenhower, born, First Lady of the United States (d. 1979)

  • Mamie Eisenhower was the first president’s wife known to be kissed openly in public by her husband following his Inaugural ceremony. She encouraged her husband to compose an Inaugural prayer which he recited at the ceremony and also strongly approved the decision to invite African-American opera singer Marian Anderson to sing at the ceremony. She also arranged for the accommodations of her African-American maids to stay in Washington, still segregated at the time, and attend all the Inaugural events.

1903 – The U.S. Women’s Trade Union League is established

  • A U.S. organization of both working class and more well-off women formed in 1903 to support the efforts of women to organize labor unions and to eliminate sweatshop conditions. The WTUL played an important role in supporting the massive strikes in the first two decades of the twentieth century that established the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union and Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and in campaigning for women’s suffrage among men and women workers. The Women’s Trade Union League, nearly forgotten in much of the mainstream, feminist and labor history written in the mid-20th century, was a key institution in reforming women’s working conditions in the early 20th century.

1946 – Emily Greene Balch, co-founder of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

  • An American academic, writer, and pacifist who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 (the prize that year was shared with John Mott), notably for her work with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).
  • Born in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston into an affluent family, she was amongst the first graduates of Bryn Mawr College in 1889. She continued to study sociology and economics in Europe and the United States, and, in 1896, she joined the faculty of Wellesley College, becoming a full professor of economics and sociology in 1913.
  •  During the World War I, she helped to found the WILPF League and campaigned against America’s entry into the conflict.
  •  When her contract was terminated by Wellesley because of her pacifist activities, she became an editor of The Nation, a well-known liberal news magazine, acted as secretary of the WILPF (a second term in 1934 without salary for a year and a half), and did much work for the League of Nations.
  •  Balch converted from Unitarianism and became a Quaker in 1921. She never married. She died the day after her 94th birthday.

1954 – Condoleezza Rice, born, American educator, diplomat and 66th United States Secretary of State, first African-American female Secretary of State

  • American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush. Rice was the first female African-American secretary of state, as well as the second African American (after Colin Powell), and the second woman (after Madeleine Albright).
  • Rice was President Bush’s National Security Advisor during his first term, making her the first woman to serve in that position. Before joining the Bush administration, she was a professor of political science at Stanford University where she served as Provost from 1993 to 1999. Rice also served on the National Security Council as the Soviet and Eastern Europe Affairs Advisor to President George H.W. Bush during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and German reunification.
  • In March 2009, Rice returned to Stanford University as a political science professor and the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution. In September 2010, Rice became a faculty member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a director of its Global Center for Business and the Economy.


Quote for Today

“Prejudice and bigotry are brought down…by the sheer force of determination of individuals to succeed and the refusal of a human being to let prejudice define the parameters of the possible.”

? Condoleezza Rice

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