Madeline Pollard and the Gilded Age’s #MeToo Moment

How the Historic Courtroom Takedown of a U.S. Congressman Challenged Victorian Misogyny

Madeline Pollard and Congressman William Breckinridge
In an epic 1893 Washington, D.C., legal battle that seized the nation’s attention, young Madeline Pollard took U.S. Congressman William Breckinridge to court in a case that ended his political career.

If you think women taking powerful older men to court under the banner of the #MeToo movement is something new, think again. A chance meeting between a young Madeline Pollard and a powerful politician in 1884 at the height of America’s Gilded Age set the stage for a sensational trial that helped change the way society thought about men, women and sex.

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Isabelle Kelley – The Economist Who Fed America

A Little Known Advocate Who Ran Federal Programs Feeding Hundred of Millions

Isabelle Kelley was particularly moved by widespread hunger among African Americans in the U.S.
Through presidential administrations from Franklin Roosevelt to Richard Nixon, Isabelle Kelley was the architect of the federal government’s sweeping food assistance and nutrition programs addressing widespread hunger in America.

You probably don’t know her name. But one female economist has been feeding America for decades. From the “Penny Milk Program” of the 1940s to today’s Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), Isabelle Kelley made it her mission to see that the poorest of Americans did not go to bed hungry.

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Ynés Mexía, Late-Blooming Mexican-American Botanist

Pioneer in the Fight to Preserve Northern California’s Majestic Redwood Forests

A section of California Red Woods and botanist Ynés Mexía
Aside from her pioneering work to save the California Redwoods, Ynés Mexía traveled North and South America amassing a collection of plant specimens still used by scientists today.

One of the most successful botanists and female plant collectors of her time, Ynés Mexía didn’t begin her career until age 55. Assertive, brave, and not afraid to knock the stereotypes of racism, sexism and ageism on their heads, she was remarkable not just for the number of specimens she collected, but for the number of miles she traveled to collect them.

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The Leesburg Stockade Girls – A Civil Rights Horror of 1963

How Racist Georgia Authorities Held Teenagers in a Secret, Squalid Prison

Two of the 30 girls who were locked away in a secret prison in Americus, Georgia in 1963
Two of more than 30 African American teenage girls who were locked away in secret for 45 days in a dilapidated former Civil War jail for participating in a 1963 Civil Rights protest in Americus, Georgia. (Photo: Danny Lyon, 1963)

It was 13-year-old Shirley Green’s first civil rights demonstration. She went to the protest without her parents’ knowledge, figuring she could make it back home before they did. She was wrong.

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Zitkála-Sá: A 20th-Century Champion of Native American Activism

Her Opera “The Sun Dance” Made Stage History

The Carlisle Indian Industrial School became infamous as a place designed to
Born on a South Dakota Sioux Reservation, the young Gertrude Simmons was pulled between the Indian culture into which she was born and the Euro-American culture that educated her. At 19, she seized on her tribal roots and went on to become one of the most influential Native American activists of the 20th century.

Zitkála-Sá (pronounced Zitkála Shá), also known as Gertrude Evaline Simmons, was born in 1876, year of the Battle of Little Bighorn, on South Dakota’s Yankton Sioux Reservation. Her mother was a full-blooded Dakota Sioux named Ellen Tatiyahewin (“She Reaches for the Wind”) Simmons, her father a white man about whom little is known. We do know he abandoned the family, leaving her mother to raise their children in traditional Sioux ways.

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Dr. Margaret Chung: Proud ‘Mom’ of WWII’s Fair-Haired Bastards

First Chinese American Female Physician and Wartime Celebrity

Planes of the 'Flying Tigers' unit in World War II.
In one of the more unlikely pairings of World War II, Margaret Chung, the country’s first Chinese-American female physician, helped recruit fighter pilots for the “Flying Tigers.” That unit of P40 aircraft, famed for its planes’ shark face nose art, was secretly equipped and trained by the U.S. military. Its pilots operated in China as mercenaries helping to repel Japanese air raids during the year before America officially entered the war.

From the time she was 10 years old, Margaret Chung wanted to become a doctor. But with no dolls or toys to practice on, she resorted to using banana peels to practice her suture technique. Born into a time when the stories of Chinese Americans were those of rejection and exclusion, Margaret Chung learned early on she would need to forge a distinctive path for herself if she were to achieve her dreams.

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