May in Women's History

 

Celebrate Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Asian-American History Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, and National Nurses’ Week.

May Highlights in US Women's History

  • May 1, 1950 – Gwendolyn Brooks becomes the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, named Library of Congress’s Consultant in Poetry (later called Poet Laureate) in 1985
  • May 5, 1938 – Dr. Dorothy H. Andersen presents results of her medical research identifying the disease cystic fibrosis at a meeting of the American Pediatric Association
  • May 8, 1914 – President Woodrow Wilson signs a Proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day
  • May 10, 1872 – Victoria Woodhull is nominated as the first woman candidate for U.S. president for the Equal Rights Party
  • May 12, 1968 – A 12-block Mother's Day march of "welfare mothers" is held in Washington, D.C., led by Coretta Scott King accompanied by Ethel Kennedy
  • May 21, 1932 – Amelia Earhart Putnam becomes the first woman to complete a solo
    transatlantic flight by flying 2,026 miles from Newfoundland to Ireland in just under 15 hours
  • May 21, 1973 – Lynn Genesko, a swimmer, receives the first athletic scholarship awarded to a woman (University of Miami)
  • May 29, 1977 – Janet Guthrie becomes the first woman to qualify for and complete the Indy 500
  • May 29, 1943 – “Rosie the Riveter” by Norman Rockwell appears on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post

May Birthdays

  • May 1, 1830 (1930) – Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, labor leader and organizer
  • May 3, 1894 (1989) – Phyllis Greenacres, psychoanalyst, interest in physical maturation and psychological development in children led to study of gifted infants, wrote “Swift and Carroll”
    (1955), a biographical study in applied analysis, held many positions in psychoanalytic societies and associations
  • May 3, 1898 (1987) – Septima Clark, educator, civil rights activist, called “The Grandmother of the Civil Rights Movement”
  • May 3, 1901 (1981) – Estelle Massey Osborne, Texas African-American, fought discrimination in nursing, aided by the Rosenwald Fund, awarded a master’s degree in nursing education, integrated the American Nurses Association and served on its board of directors (1948-52)
  • May 3, 1912 (1995) – May Sarton, prolific writer and poet, professor
  • May 5, 1864 (1922) – Elizabeth Seaman, pen name "Nelly Bly," journalist, wrote expose of mental asylum (1887), set a record for circling the world in 72 days (1890)
  • May 5, 1942 (1998) – Tammy Wynette, country music singer, after first success in 1967 had more than 20 songs go to #1, Grammy Award for “Stand By Your Man” (1968), final recording with Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton in 1993
  • May 8, 1910 (1981) – Mary Lou Williams, jazz composer, became piano chair and writer for Benny Goodman (1931), wrote “The Zodiac Suite” for jazz ensemble, played at Town Hall (1945) and Carnegie Hall (1946)
  • May 9, 1906 (1994) – Sarah Boyle, Virginia writer, supported immediate integration in 1962 with “The Desegregated Heart,” was arrested and jailed in St. Augustine (1964), railed against age discrimination in the 1970s and 80s
  • May 9, 1907 (1978) – Kathryn Kuhlman, evangelist and faith healer, held services in Denver for 2,000 (1933), developed a radio ministry then a healing ministry in Franklin, PA (1947), hosted regular services at Pasadena Civic Auditorium for 2,500 (1965), filled the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium for 10 years
  • May 9, 1917 (2013) – Fay Kanin, screenwriter, nominated for Academy Award for “Teacher’s Pet” (1958), won two Emmy Awards for “Tell Me Where It Hurts” (1974) and for producing “Friendly Fire” with Carol Burnett (1979), second female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science (1979-83)
  • May 10, 1897 (1985) – Margaret Mahler, psychoanalyst, fled with her husband from the Nazis in 1938, began observational research in 1959 to observe normal mother-infant pairs beginning at four months of child’s age, when problems in development occurred she treated mother and child together
  • May 11, 1875 (1912) – Harriet Quimby, first American woman to become a licensed airplane pilot (1911), first woman to fly across the English Channel (1912)
  • May 11, 1894 (1991) – Martha Graham, modern dance innovator and choreographer
  • May 11, 1906 (1975) – Ethel Weed, military officer in the Women's Army Corp., promoted women's rights and suffrage in Japan
  • May 12, 1907 (2003) – Katherine Hepburn, actor, big break was “A Bill of Divorcement” (1932) with John Barrymore, acted for more than 60 years, won four Academy Awards for best actress including “The Philadelphia Story” and “On Golden Pond,” named top American = screen legend of all time by American Film Institute (1999)
  • May 14, 1890 (1983) – Margaret Naumburg, progressive educator, used Montessori’s and John Dewey’s philosophies (1914-24), researched the power of art spontaneous expression in therapy in the 1980s
  • May 15, 1937 – Madeline Albright, first woman U.S. Secretary of State (1997-2001)
  • May 18, 1970 – Tina Fey, television writer, began in Chicago’s “The Second City” then wrote for “Saturday Night Live” (1997-2006), began acted in movies in 2004, won five screen Actors Guild Awards, youngest winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American humor (2010)
  • May 19, 1930 (1965) – Lorraine Hansberry, first African-American woman to produce a play on Broadway, “A Raisin in the Sun” (1959)
  • May 20, 1894 (1988) – Adele St. Johns, journalist, hired by William Randolph Hearst for her social contacts, became a feature writer with interviews and investigative stories on the New Deal, abdication of Edward VIII, and death of Gandhi
  • May 20, 1900 (1991) – Lydia Cabbera, Cuban artist, studied art from 1917, moved to Miami in 1960 after studying in Europe (1920-38), her greatest legacy is recording Afro-Cuban beliefs, rituals, songs and language
  • May 24, 1898 (1986) – Helen Taussig, pediatric cardiologist, first full woman professor at Johns Hopkins (1959), with talented African-American technician Vivien Thomas perfected the Blalock-Taussig surgical techniques which corrected “blue baby” syndrome (1944), contributed to the ban on thalidomide in the 1960s, president of the American Heart Association (1965), awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • May 25, 1905 (1995) – Dorothy Wesley, librarian and historian, one of the first African- American women to earn a master’s degree in library science (Howard University, 1932), her collection of books by black authors grew to tens of thousands of items including black music and
    the papers of Angelina Grimké
  • May 25, 1910 (1997) – Mary Keyserling, became general secretary of the National Consumers’ League (1938) to improve labor conditions and wages, worked to pass the Fair Labor Standards and defended National Labor Relations, later supported the ERA, adequate minimum wages, strong unions, and high-quality childcare, won the Distinguished Service Award of the National Conference on Social Welfare (1972)
  • May 25, 1928 – Mary Wells Lawrence, executive, leader in humorous and creative advertising from 1964, first female CEO of a company traded on the New York Stock Exchange, named Advertising Woman of the Year (1971)
  • May 26, 1916 (1976) – Helen Kanahele, labor organizer, while touring as a talented 7-year-old hula dancer became greatly disturbed by the “No Colored” signs on mainland, worked with the Women’s Auxiliary of the International Longshoreman’s and Warehousemen’s Union (1949-51) which was on strike for wage parity, faced red-baiting and retaliation in job placement because of her activism, campaigned for women’s rights including right to serve on juries, for world peace, and against the death penalty
  • May 26, 1924 (1977) – Thelma Hill, dancer, educator, began with tap dance then concentrated on ballet about 1949 at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet school, ballerina in Les Ballets Negres (1955), joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1959
  • May 26, 1951 (2012) – Sally Ride, astrophysicist, first American woman astronaut
  • May 27, 1907 (1964) – Rachel Carson, scientist and environmentalist, wrote "The Silent Spring" which became a cornerstone of the modern environmental protection movement
  • May 27, 1909 (1997) – Mary Fieser, organic chemist (1932-56), developed research on steroids, wrote guide to existing literature in the field, “Reagents for Organic Synthesis,” now a constantly updated standard laboratory reference
  • May 28, 1913 (1989) – May Swenson, poet, first generation immigrant from Sweden, wrote 11 volumes of poetry (plus four published posthumously), showed a great love of the outdoors and nature, 59 poems published in the New Yorker, taught as writer-in-residence at Purdue University
  • May 28, 1932 (1999) – Lucille Kallen, television comedy writer, novelist, wrote humorous skits with Mel Tolkin for Imogene Coca and Sid Caesar (1950-54), also wrote for Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Dick Van Dyke, wrote mysteries in her late 70s
  • May 31, 1910 (1989) – Maria Teresa Babin, Puerto Rican literary critic, supported Spanish authors and values after occupation by U.S. in 1898, recognized pre-Columbian culture, taught in
    U.S. schools and universities as well as in Puerto Rico
  • May 31, 1912 (1997) – Chien-Shiung Wu, renowned physicist, elected to National Academy of Science (1958), first woman elected President of American Physical Society (1975), received National Medal of Science (1975)
  • May 31, 1924 (1985) – Patricia Harris, lawyer and ambassador, participated in sit-ins while student at Howard University, executive director of Delta Sigma Theta (1953-59), first female African-American Ambassador (Luxembourg, 1965), Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare (1979-83)