Historical Events & Women – August

  • I think it is important that we, as women, continue to remind ourselves of how far we have come and how much farther we can go so, here are some important dates to remember:
  • August 6, 1965 – The Voting Rights Act outlaws the discriminatory literacy tests that had been used to prevent African Americans from voting. Suffrage is finally fully extended to African American women
  • August 9, 1995 – Roberta Cooper Ramo becomes the first woman to hold the office of president of the American Bar Association
  • August 10, 1993 – Ruth Bader Ginsburg is sworn in as the second woman and 107th Justice to serve on the US Supreme Court
  • August 12, 1972 – Wendy Rue founds the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE), the largest businesswomen’s organization in the US
  • August 14, 1986 – Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper retires from active duty in the US Navy. A pioneering computer scientist and inventor of the computer language COBOL, she was the oldest officer still on active duty at the time of her retirement
  • August 23, 1902 – Fanny Farmer opens the “School of Cookery” in Boston, MA
  • August 26, 1920 – The 19th Amendment of the US Constitution is ratified granting women the right to vote
  • August 26, 1970 – Betty Friedan leads a nationwide protest called the Women’s Strike for Equality in New York City on the fiftieth anniversary of women’s suffrage
  • August 26, 1971 – The first “Women’s Equality Day,” initiated by Representative Bella Abzug, is established by Presidential Proclamation and reaffirmed annually
  • August 28, 1963 – More than 250,000 gather for a march on Washington, DC, and listen to Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech
  • August 30, 1984 – Judith A. Resnick is the second US woman in space, traveling on the first flight of the space shuttle Discovery

And…some important birthdays of women you may or may not know about:

  • August 1, 1923 (2006)beamedicine– Beatrice Medicine, Standing Rock Sioux anthropologist, focused on the roles of Lakota women in changes facing their cultures in areas including bilingual education, alcohol and drug use, abuse, socialization of children, and identity needs, author of Learning to Be an Anthropologist and Remaining Native

  • August 2, 1902 (1997)– Mina Rees, mathematician, first woman president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1971)
  • August 3, 1905 (1995) – Maggie Kuhn, senior rights activist, founded the Gray Panthers
  • August armstrong_barbara thumbnail4, 1890 (1976)– Barbara Armstrong, lawyer, first female law professor at a law school of a major university, Boalt Hall, at the University of California at Berkeley, expert on social economics


  • August 6, 1886 (1916) – Inez Milholland Boissevain, a lawyer and suffrage leader; gowned in white and riding a white horse, she lead a suffrage parade in Washington, DC, during Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration
  • August 6, 1903 (1999)–Virginia Durr, civil rights activist and author, founding member of the Southern Conference on Human Welfare (1938)
  • August 6, 1911 (1989)– Lucille Ball, comedian, actress, and television executive, starred in TV series “I Love Lucy” from 1950 to 1960, first woman to own a major television studio, Desilu Productions
  • August 9, 1919 (1986)– Leona Woods Marshall Libby, physicist, only woman on the team that built the world’s first nuclear reactor,worked on the Manhattan Project, professor at New York University and UCLA
  • August 11, 1941– Elizabeth Holtzman, youngest woman elected to U.S. Congress, (D-NY, 1973-81), first woman District Attorney in New York City (1981)
  • zerna sharpeAugust 12, 1889 (1981)– Zerna Sharp, author, called the “Mother of Dick and Jane,” helped create the popular reading series with bright action picture stories and one new word on each page


  • August 13, 1818 (1893) – Lucy Stone, suffragist and supporter of rights for women and African Americans, boldly kept her own name when she married
  • August 13, 1893 (1986)– Eva Dykes, first African-American woman to earn a doctoral degree (in English from Radcliffe College in 1921), professor at Howard University, and Chair of the English Dept. at Oakwood College
  • August 14, 1899 (1990)– Caroline Ware, history professor, pioneer in the “cultural approach to History,” expert on consumer affairs, Chair of the American Association of University Women Committee on Social Studies
  • August 14, 1911 (1991)– Ethel Payne, called “The First Lady of the Black Press,” first African American female radio and television commentator at a national news organization (CBS) in 1972
  • August 15, 1903 (1984)– Ellen Winston, first U.S. Commissioner of Welfare in the Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare (1963-1967)
  • August 15, 1913 (1998)– Aurora Castillo, community activist, co-founded Mothers of East Los Angeles (1984)which worked against a proposed prison and hazardous waste dump in East Los Angeles
  • August 15, 1918 (1995)– Fay Knopp, pacifist and feminist, prison reformer, member of Women Strike for Peace, pioneered more humane treatment of prisoners based on compassion and a belief that people can change themselves
  • August 17, 1891 (1980)– Marion Kenworthy, psychiatrist, first woman president of the American Psychoanalytic Association, professor at New York School of Social Work (now Columbia University School of Social Work)
  • mae westAugust 17, 1893 (1980)– Mae West, iconic actress and sex symbol, started in Vaudeville, starred in plays, movies, radio, and television


  • August 17, 1906 (1998)– Hazel Bishop, chemist, created the first “kiss-proof” lipstick, founded a cosmetics company, Hazel Bishop, Inc.
  • August 17, 1927 (1997)– Elaine Hedges, educator, helped create the field of Women’s Studies, founding member of the National Women’s Studies Association, founded the Women’s Studies Program at Towson University, one of the oldest programs in the country, writer and editor for The Feminist Press
  • August 18, 1893 (1982)– Ragini Devi, American specialist in classical and folk ethnographic dances, won acclaim from dance critics, wrote Dance Dialects of India in 1972, later performed with her daughter and granddaughter
  • August 18, 1902 (1991)– Leona Baumgartner, physician, first woman to be commissioner of the New York City Dept. of Health (1954), advocated for public health education, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (1962)
  • August 18, 1927– Rosalynn Carter, U.S. First Lady from 1977 to 1981, politically active while in the White House, focused on mental health, senior citizens, and community voluntarism, co-founded the Carter Center with her husband in 1982
  • August 19, 1895 (1987)– Vera Weisbord, radical activist, labor organizer, and feminist,organized women textile worker strikes in the 1920s, active in the Civil Rights Movement, wrote her autobiography, A Radical Life, in 1977, also a painter
  • August 19, 1920 (1999)– Donna Allen, founder of the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press in 1972 to publicize and research women’s issues which she thought were ignored by the main stream media
  • August 22, 1883 (1984)– Ruth Underhill, anthropologist and professor, studied with Ruth Benedict who encouraged traveling with native women to learn their history, wrote of the Papago Native American culture, and taught in the Bureau of Indian Affairs schools
  • August 22, 1912 (1996)– Cornelia “Coya” Knutson, first woman elected to the U.S. Congress from Minnesota (1955-1959), first woman on the Agriculture Committee, defeated after an infamous “Come Home Coya” lettersupposedly written by her estranged husband
  • August 23, 1899 (1999)– Grace Chu, cookbook author and teacher, emigrated from Shanghai in 1920 with a scholarship from Wellesley College, taught Chinese cooking, wrote Madame Chu’s Cooking School Cookbook in 1975
  • August 26, 1898 (1979)– Peggy Guggenheim, art collector and socialite, started buying modern art in 1938 and amassed an impressive collection
  • August 26, 1908 (1986)– Cynthia Wedel, first woman elected President of the National Council of Churches (1969-1972), president of the World Council of Churches (1975-1983), argued that women should be treated as equals in the church
  • August 26, 1935 (2011)– Geraldine Ferraro, first woman to run for Vice President of the U.S. on a major party ticketin 1984 (with Democratic candidate Walter Mondale), attorney, U.S. Congresswoman (NY, 1979-1985)
  • August 29, 1913 (1991)– Sylvia Kaye, lyricist and composer, wrote over 100 songs for her husband, Danny Kaye, television producer, and teacher
  • August 30, 1907 (1992)– Luisa Moreno, labor leader and Mexican-American civil rights activist, emigrated from Guatemala, helped organize“El Congreso del Pueblo de Habla Espanola” (Spanish-Speaking Peoples Congress) in 1938, worked for the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing, and Allied Workers of America (UCAPAWA)

This information is compliments of the Natural Women’s History Project – Writing Women Back Into History.  For more information, go to www.nwhp.org.



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