1857: Rose Markward Knox born (businesswoman, first woman director of the American Grocery Manufacturers’ Association)

  • She and her husband formed the Knox Gelatin Company, but it was she who ran it after his death in 1908 and who turned it into a leading company.
  •  Through her innovative programs in advertising and marketing to women, the firm undertook research and emphasized the nutritional aspects of the products, then published recipe collections featuring gelatin.
  •  The first day she was there she permanently closed the back door of the factory, stating that all men and women were equal and that was the way she was going to be treating them: there was no need to have two separate doors. She also requested one of her husband’s top executives to resign after he was overheard saying he would not work for a woman. Throughout the years to come, Mrs. Knox made many other changes. One of the most famous things she did was to create a five day work week for her workers, and she also gave them two weeks of paid vacation, something that was unheard of before. Mrs. Knox survived the Depression without having to release any of her workers.
  •  Rose Knox, as one of the first business women in New York State, received many honors in her lifetime.
  • She became the first woman on the Board of Directors of the American Grocery Manufacturers Association in 1929.
  • In 1937, Mrs. Knox was voted as the woman who had contributed the most to American business by the New York State Federation of Business and Professional Women.
  • And in 1950, the story of her life was told on “Cavalcade of America” which was broadcast from New York.
  • Recently, in March 2007, she was honored during Women’s History Month as a New York State Woman of Distinction.

1861: Julia Ward Howe  (May 27, 1819 – October 17, 1910) was a prominent American abolitionist, social activist, poet, and the author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”.

  • Julia Ward Howe was inspired to write “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” after she and her husband visited Washington, D. C., and met Abraham Lincoln at the White House in November 1861. During the trip, her friend James Freeman Clarke suggested she write new words to the song “John Brown’s Body”, which she did on November 19.
  • The song was set to William Steffe’s already-existing music and Howe’s version was first published in the Atlantic Monthly in February 1862. It quickly became one of the most popular songs of the Union during the American Civil War.
  • After the war Howe focused her activities on the causes of pacifism and women’s suffrage. In 1870 she wrote her Mother’s Day Proclamation. It was a “Mother’s Day for Peace”, asking women from the world to join for world’s peace. In 1872, she asked that “Mother’s Day” be celebrated on the 2nd of June. Her efforts were not successful, and by 1893 she was wondering if the 4th of July could be remade into “Mother’s Day”.From 1872 to 1879, she assisted Lucy Stone and Henry Brown Blackwell in editing Woman’s Journal.
  • After her husband’s death in 1876, Howe focused more on her interests in reform. She was the founder and president of the Association of American Women, a group which advocated for women’s education, from 1876 to 1897. She also served as president of organizations like the New England Women’s Club, the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association, and the New England Suffrage Association, and the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA).

1870: Elizabeth Meriweather Gilmer, Dorothy Dix (November 18, 1861 — December 16, 1951), was the pseudonym of U.S. journalist Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer.

  • As the forerunner of today’s popular advice columnists, Dorothy Dix was America’s highest paid and most widely read female journalist at the time of her death. Her advice on marriage was syndicated in newspapers around the world. With an estimated audience of 60 million readers, she became a popular and recognized figure on her travels abroad. Her name is the origin of the term “Dorothy Dixer”, a widely-used phrase in Australia meaning a question from a member of Parliament to a minister, that enables the minister to make an announcement in the form of a reply.
  • Through her writing she was able to express her ideas of feminism, including women’s right to work, vote and have equal access to health care and education. The column, aimed largely at women, was often based on Meriwether’s personal experiences. With its success, Meriwether was promoted to editor of the women’s department and assistant to the editor of the Picayune.
  • In 1901, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst offered Meriwether a position at the New York Journal. Hearst knew that what sold newspapers was drama.
  • One of the most sensational stories Meriwether covered was the New York trial of Harry Kendall Thaw in 1907. Thaw was accused of killing architect Stanford White who had been conducting a love affair with Thaw’s wife, Evelyn Nesbit. A male reporter who saw Meriwether sitting in the press section with other woman reporters — Winifred Black, Nixola Greely-Smith and Ada Patterson — stuck the name “sob sisters” on them and the term came to describe their technique of rendering the news from a woman’s perspective .
  • In 1917, Meriwether tired of New York City and reporting on trials and moved back to New Orleans. She joined the Wheeler Newspaper Syndicate, writing an advice column. It was estimated that she recieved 400 to 600 letters a day and had more than 60 million readers. She continued her advice column until 1950. She died in 1961 at age 90.

1945: Wilma Mankiller (November 18, 1945 – April 6, 2010) was the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation. She served as principal chief for ten years from 1985 to 1995.

By 1983, Mankiller was elected deputy chief of the Cherokee Nation, alongside Ross Swimmer, who was serving his third consecutive term as principal chief. In 1985, Chief Swimmer resigned when appointed as head of the US Bureau of Indian Affairs. Mankiller succeeded him as the first female principal chief of the Cherokee. She was elected in her own campaign in 1987, and re-elected again in 1991 in a landslide victory, collecting 83% of the vote. In 1995, Mankiller chose not to run again for chief, largely due to health problems.

  • Mankiller faced many obstacles during her tenure in office. At the time she became chief, the Cherokee Nation leadership was male-dominated. Such a structure contrasted with the traditional Cherokee culture and value system, which tended to include both sexes in leadership positions, though in somewhat different capacities.
  • Over the course of her three terms, Mankiller reinvigorated the Cherokee Nation through community-development projects where men and women work collectively for the common good. These were funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs “Self Help” programs, initiated by the United Keetoowah Band, and with the help of the Federal governments self-determination monies. The projects included establishing tribally owned businesses (such as horticultural operations and plants with government defense contracts), improving infrastructure ( such as providing running water to the community of Bell, Oklahoma), and building a hydroelectric facility.
  • Under the US Federal policy of Native American self-determination, Mankiller improved federal-tribal negotiations. She helped prepare for today’s Government-to-Government relationship which the Cherokee Nation has with the US Federal Government
  • Her administration founded the Cherokee Nation Community Development Department, revived the tribal Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, and saw a population increase of Cherokee Nation citizens from 55,000 to 156,000. “Prior to my election,” says Mankiller, “young Cherokee girls would never have thought that they might grow up and become chief.” 
  • After her term as chief, she took a teaching position at Dartmouth College.
  • She died in April 2010.

* The family surname, Mankiller, refers to a traditional Cherokee military rank; it is Asgaya-dihi in the Cherokee language.

Nov. 18, 1972: Richard Nixon appoints Anne Armstrong counselor, a cabinet-level position. She then founds the White House Office of Women’s Programs

  • Armstrong was a United States diplomat and politician, and the first female Counselor to the President; she served in that capacity under both the Ford and Nixon administrations. She was also the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • She was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and graduated from Vassar College in 1949. In 1950, she married Tobin Armstrong and moved to Kennedy County, Texas.
  •  From 1966 to 1968, she was the vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party. From 1971 to 1973 she was Co-chairman of the Republican National Committee, and she was the keynote speaker at the 1972 Republican National Convention. (She was the first woman from either major party to keynote at a national convention).
  •  In 1973, a young Karl Rove, then on his way to becoming the chairman of the College Republicans, suggested in a memorandum to Armstrong that the Republican Party show nonpolitical films (such as John Wayne movies and Reefer Madness) at College Republican clubs as part of a strategy to raise support for the party among students and for fundraising.
  • From 1976 to 1977, Armstrong was the first woman United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom. At the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas Cityh, Missouri, there was a draft effort to put Armstrong on the ticket as the vice presidential nominee with incumbent President Gerald Ford; Senator Robert Dole of Kansas was instead chosen by Ford.
  • In 1978, Armstrong supported George W. Bush in his successful primary challenge to Jim Reese in their congressional runoff primary in Texas’s 19th congressional district. Bush, however, lost the general election that fall to then Democrat Kent Hance.
  • In 1987, Armstrong was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan.
  • In addition to her public life, Armstrong served on the boards of many U.S. corporations, including American Express, Boise Cascade, Halliburton, and General Motors. She also served on the board of non-profit organizations such as Center for Strategic and International Studies and was a member of the Founding Council of the Rothermere American Institute, and the University of Oxford.
  • Armstrong died of cancer at a hospice in Houston.

 Quote of The Day

“I don’t think anybody anywhere can talk about the future of their people or of an organization without talking about education. Whoever controls the education of our children controls our future.” Wilma Mankiller

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