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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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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Jackie Ormes – First African American Female Cartoonist

Crusading Journalist Targeted by FBI during Joe McCarthy Era

Comic strip by Jackie Ormes
With the publication of her comic strip in the Pittsburgh Courier in 1937, Jackie Ormes became the first African American woman newspaper cartoonist. It was the beginning of a long career as a crusading journalist, artist and activist who used her pen as an instrument of protest and change.

Anyone remember riffling through the Sunday papers to get to the comics section? The Sunday funnies, a.k.a. the funny papers, were a family tradition for kids of all ages. They were so popular that, during a 1945 newspaper delivery strike, New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia took to the radio to read the comics so readers wouldn’t miss a week.

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Annette Kellerman – Taboo-Busting Mermaid, Women’s Health Advocate

As an Athlete, Actress, and Designer, She Swam Her Way to Fame

The first mermaid of Hollywood's early silver screen era.
During the early decades of the 20th century, Australia-born Annette Kellerman was renowned as an athlete, actress, writer, stuntwoman, women’s health and fitness advocate, and clothing designer who revolutionized female swimwear. She performed the first water ballet, invented the sport of synchronized swimming, and was the first mermaid of the silver screen.

Ever since Disney’s aquatic Princess Ariel debuted in 1989, mermaids have become a thing. Before Ariel, there was actress Glynis Johns as a mermaid named Miranda in 1948. And who can forget Daryl Hannah striding ashore in all that strategically-placed hair in the 1980s’ movie Splash? But long before any of those film mermaids, there was Australia’s Annette Kellerman.

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Against Lynchings and Jim Crow Laws: Mexican-American Activist Jovita Idár

Early 19th-Century Journalist and Feminist Founded League of Mexican Women

Jovita Idár and
A teacher turned journalist who championed the rights of Mexican communities on both sides of the south Texas border, Jovita Idár’s achievements were little-known to the outside world until recent years.

One of eight children born to a family of Mexican-American journalists and social activists in Laredo Texas in 1885, Jovita Idár went on to make her mark as a crusader for civil and women’s rights in a border region notorious for the racist and misogynistic policies and practices of its ruling white culture.

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Namahyoke Sockum Curtis In The Spanish-American War

Recruited to Solve a Critical Shortage, She Helped Elevate the Status and Role of U.S. Military Nurses

Nurses at a U.S. Army field hospital in Havana during the Spanish-American War
The only known photo of Namahyoke Sockum Curtis against an 1898 image of a U.S. Army Field hospital in Havana, Cuba, during the Spanish American War. Daughter of an African-American/Native American family, and a Black socialite who raised funds to build hospitals for non-whites in Chicago, she was selected by the U.S. Surgeon General to head the recruitment of desperately needed war-time nurses. It was the first time nurses served in dedicated, quasi-military Army units, leading to the establishment of the Army Nurse Corps in 1901.

As wars go, the Spanish-American War gets very little attention. But black women hired as nurses during what some called the “splendid little war” get even less. So you’re excused if you’ve never heard of a woman with the unusual name Namahyoke “Namah” Sockum Curtis, and her role in the Spanish-American War.

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