Hedy Lamarr, Serious Inventor Trapped in a Hollywood Image

Hedy Lamarr, actress and one of America's most famed female inventors
In parallel with her Hollywood fame, Hedy Lamarr was a constant tinkerer and successful inventor who contributed significant innovative engineering ideas adopted by the U.S. military and consumer industries. In 1997 Lamarr’s engineering work was honored with the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award and in 2014 she was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Whoever coined the phrase “more than just a pretty face” could have been describing this Wednesday’s Woman. Hedy Lamarr, the exquisite Hollywood beauty of the 1930s and ’40s, was born into an Austrian Jewish family as Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in 1914. She would ultimately go on to become the Hollywood star we all know, as well as a highly successful engineering innovator who most of us were never aware of.

Continue reading “Hedy Lamarr, Serious Inventor Trapped in a Hollywood Image”

Dolores Del Rio: Trailblazer for U.S. Latino Actors

Dolores Del Rio, U.S.-Mexican film star
Mexican actress Dolores Del Rio was a U.S. trailblazer for Latino actors and one of the most glamorous Hollywood performers of the first half of the 20th century.

You may know the names Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz, Sofia Vergara and Eva Mendes. What you may not know is that these Latina actresses stand on the shoulders of this Wednesday’s Woman. Her given name was Lolita Dolores Martinez Asunsolo Lopez Negrette. But film buffs know her as Dolores Del Rio. Born in Durango, Mexico, she was one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the silver screen. In fact, Irish author/playwright George Bernard Shaw once said of her, “The two most beautiful things in the world are the Taj Mahal and Dolores Del Rio.”

Continue reading “Dolores Del Rio: Trailblazer for U.S. Latino Actors”

Loretta Walsh, 1917, First Woman to Enlist in the U.S. Navy

First woman to enlist in the U.S. Navy, Loretta Walsh
When Loretta Perfectus Walsh became the first women to enlist in the U.S. Navy in 1917, that service didn’t yet have uniforms for female sailors. She served as a yeoman at the U.S. Navy Yard in Philadelphia (background photo).

In 1917, twelve words opened the floodgates for women to serve in the military: “It does not say … anywhere that a Yeoman must be a man.” One year after the U.S. Naval Reserve Act of 1916 allowed qualified “persons” to enlist, history was made when 20-year-old Loretta Perfectus Walsh (1896-1925) did just that, earning herself a whole series of “firsts” in the process.

Continue reading “Loretta Walsh, 1917, First Woman to Enlist in the U.S. Navy”

Susan La Flesche Picotte: America’s First Native American Doctor

Susan La Flesche Picotte was the first first native American female doctor
In the middle of both background images, a young Susan La Flesche is shown in the two different worlds of her 19th-century life. The mature Susan La Flesche in the foreground is the woman who became the first Native American physician.

The idea that “it was only an Indian and it did not matter” if a person received adequate medical care or not changed the life of Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte (1865-1915), the first Native American woman in the United States to receive a medical degree. Continue reading “Susan La Flesche Picotte: America’s First Native American Doctor”

Sarah Josepha Buell Hale: The Godmother of Thanksgiving

Sarah Hale, creator of Thanksgiving holiday
Literary titan and material cultural arbiter of the Victorian Age, Sarah Hale was the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book and credited with making Thanksgiving an official national holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving! Did you know the holiday we celebrate tomorrow with parades, turkey, full bellies and football wouldn’t exist if not for this Wednesday’s Woman? She is Sarah Josepha Buell Hale (1788-1879), a.k.a. the Godmother of Thanksgiving. Continue reading “Sarah Josepha Buell Hale: The Godmother of Thanksgiving”

Elizabeth Blackwell, MD: America’s First Formally Accredited Female Physician

Elizabeth Blackwell was one of America's most important historical female doctors.
Elizabeth Blackwell played a major role in organizing medical relief facilities for soldiers of the Union Army during the Civil War. The Women’s Central Association for Relief (WCAR) she founded led to the creation of the U.S. Sanitary Commission which operated 30 major facilities like this one in Alexandria, Virginia.

Elizabeth Blackwell, MD., was America’s first formally accredited female doctor. Admitted to medical school as a joke, she proved she who laughs last, laughs best. Continue reading “Elizabeth Blackwell, MD: America’s First Formally Accredited Female Physician”