Before Julia Child, There was Eugénie Brazier

The Real Mother of Modern French Cooking

 Eugénie Brazier in her kitchen with her chefs
Born on a pig farm near Lyon, France in 1895, Eugénie Brazier went on to lift herself out of poverty with the creative cooking skills that made her a famed chef whose innovative work was often overlooked by food historians as rivals claimed credit for her achievements.

Who didn’t love celebrity chef Julia Child? After all, she made French cuisine accessible to America’s cooks with her 762-page cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and brought one of the first cooking shows, The French Chef, into countless living rooms. But if you think she was the mother of modern French cooking, you would be wrong. That honor belongs to Eugénie Brazier.

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Doris Fleeson First Syndicated Female Political Columnist

From WWI War Zones to 5 Presidential Administrations, She Covered It All

World War II meeting of soldiers and U.S. journalist in the field
Aside from breaking through barriers in sexist newsrooms, Doris Fleeson went on to become a feminist champion helping other women — particularly those of color — get into the news business in an era of rampant male chauvinism.

For two decades, Washington reporter Doris Fleeson took no prisoners as she stalked the halls of Congress in her white gloves and designer hats, exposing ignorance, fraud and hypocrisy wherever she found it. One of the best and most-respected reporters of her day, she struck fear in the hearts of Congressmen, press secretaries and presidents of both parties, one of whom, John F. Kennedy, quailed at the prospect of being “Fleesonized” by her sharp prose and what Newsweek called “the sharp edge of her typewriter.”

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Isabella Lucy Bird’s 19th-Century Journey to Travel-Writing Fame

Mountain Climber, Cattle Driver, Caravan Organizer, Photographer and Acclaimed Book Author Isabella Lucy Bird

Isabella Lucy Bird climbed Mount Mauna Loa in Hawaii, the world's largest active volcano.
Climbing Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, and riding stallions through the Atlas Mountains of Morocco were just two of Isabella Lucy Bird’s many 19th-century travel writing adventures around the world.

In 1972, a bespectacled, shaggy-haired singer-songwriter named John Denver celebrated his love affair with Colorado in a song called “Rocky Mountain High.” But more than a century earlier, an intrepid Englishwoman named Isabella Lucy Bird beat him to it. Her book, A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains, was published in 1879 as a letter to her sister in England. It detailed her adventures in Colorado, became an international bestseller, and put the area now known as Rocky Mountain National Park on the map.

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Triumph Against All Odds: Black Artist Elizabeth Catlett

A Highly Acclaimed 20th Century Sculptor and Printmaker

Artist Elizabeth Catlett and slavery print.
Inspired by the stories of her formerly-enslaved grandmothers, artist Elizabeth Catlett built an internationally acclaimed career around her artworks capturing the experiences of Black women.

Elizabeth Catlett never knew her father, a Tuskegee Institute math professor who died before she was born, but a small wooden bird sculpture he left behind gave wing to the artistic interests that would ultimately define her career. Born near Washington, D.C., in 1915, grandchild of formerly-enslaved people, her life’s work would give poignant voice to the dignity, pride, strength, and hard-won victories of Black women in a society dominated by white men.

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Jessie Tarbox Beals: First Published Female Photojournalist

Blazed a trail for future female news photographers

At the turn of the 20th century, Jessie Tarbox Beals blazed a trail for female photographers when she became the first woman photojournalist to be published in the U.S. Her accomplishments are all the more notable because the photo process and equipment of her era required arduous amounts of physical labor and stamina. For instance, the camera she often balanced on top of 20-foot ladders weighed 50 pounds.

Jessie Tarbox Beals might have spent her life as a teacher, doing “genteel, sheltered, monotonous and moneyless work having neither heights nor depths.” Instead, thanks to a little box camera, a knack for self promotion and pure moxie, she became one of America’s first women to carve out a career in the tough, competitive, male-dominated field of photojournalism.

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Theda Bara – First Creation of Hollywood’s Sultans of Spin

Bookish Daughter of a Tailor Turned Into One of Filmdom’s First Sex Vamps

Silent screen actress Theda Bara in the first Cleopatra movie
Starring as the first Cleopatra, Theda Bara is viewed by historians as one of the best actresses of the silent film era and one of Hollywood’s first sex symbols. The entire collection of her films was lost in a 1937 studio fire.

If you’ve ever wondered how a nice Jewish girl from Cincinnati who was named after Aaron Burr’s daughter became what one newspaper described as “the most fascinating though revolting female character ever created,” have I got a story for you about Theda Bara.

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